The New Student's Reference Work/Æschylus< The New Student's Reference Work
Æschylus (ěs′kǐ-lus) (525-456 B. C.), the earliest of the great Attic tragedians. He was born at Eleusis, of a noble family, and took an honorable part in the Persian war. His first efforts at tragedy are said to have been suggested by the god Bacchus, who appeared to him while asleep in the fields. At the age of 41 he won his first prize in the dramatic contests popular among the Athenians, and during his life was thirteen times victor. He was finally defeated by Sophocles and went to Sicily, where he lived with Hiero, the tyrant of Syracuse. Tradition says his death was caused by an eagle dropping a tortoise, to break its shell, on his bald head, which the bird had mistaken for a stone. Attic tragedy owes much to Æschylus. He first brought in a second actor, befitting costumes and scenery, and caused a regular stage to be built. He wrote 70 tragedies, of which only seven are now in existence: The Seven Against Thebes, The Suppliants, The Persians, Prometheus Bound, The Choëphori, and The Eumenides. Mrs. Browning's poetical version of Prometheus Bound is one of the best of the many translations of his tragedies.