There are few reliable sources for the life of Aeschylus. He was said to have been born in about 525 or 524 BCE in Eleusis, a small town just northwest of Athens. As a youth, he worked at a vineyard until, according to tradition, the god Dionysus visited him in his sleep and commanded him to turn his attention to the nascent art of tragedy. His first play was performed when he was only 26 years old (in 499 BCE), and fifteen years later he won his first prize at Athens’ annual Dionysia playwriting competition.
Though Aeschylus is recorded to have written over 90 celebrated plays, only several have survived the test of time and are listed below. Each of these works portrays the characteristics of mankind and nature with penetrating insight.
It should be noted that in spite of the fact that he was inarguably the greatest playwright in his lifetime, Aeschylus desired that the epitaph engraved upon his tombstone simply read: “I fought at Marathon”… a decisive battle against the invading Persian empire whose victory established the sovereignty of a young Athens as a new republic, turning the geopolitical tide of the globe for centuries to come.
Seven Against Thebes