AESCHYLUS (525/524-456/455 BC). The first of Athens’ three great tragic poets of the 5th century BC, Aeschylus was born in Eleusis, Attica and was nurtured by Athenian democracy, as shaped by Cleisthenes’ reforms. With the new dramatic conventions that he introduced, i.e. a second actor and smaller choral parts, Aeschylus is largely credited with giving Greek tragedy its standard form and with elevating it to artistic heights. He won 13 victories in the dramatic festivals of
Athens. His Persae (472 BC) is Europe’s earliest surviving play, while his masterpiece, the Oresteia trilogy, is seen as being to drama what the Parthenon is to architecture. He died in Gela, Sicily. In the epitaph that he had composed for himself, he chose to be remembered for taking part in the battle of Marathon, without a single allusion to his achievements as a poet.
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