1995-06-06: The Complete Greek Tragedies, Aeschylus

The Complete Greek Tragedies,

vol 1, Aeschylus (1991)

tr. by Richard Lattimore, Seth Benardete, David Green

This book gives recent translations of the seven surviving (of about seventy) tragedies by Aeschylus, with introductory remarks by the translators. I found them quite good.

Aeschylus is of interest to me as an exemplar of the reflective realm. He seems, to me, to have begun with a conventional view of the Greek gods, and of the place of the Greeks in the world. He fought, at age 22 if he was born in -512, alongside his brothers at Marathon (-490). This battle, against all odds, dramatically altered the place of the Greeks in the world, and certainly affected Aeschylus’ views (as many others’).

I think a reasonable conjecture might be made to the effect that Aeschylus came to believe that the gods supported the just cause, and came to place Zeus below the Fates. He may not have been the first to believe this, but certainly expressed it. The differences between Homer’s words (ca -750) and Aeschylus’ (ca -475) in The Eumenides and Prometheus Bound are certainly enormous.

An interesting project would be to make a story of Aeschylus’ reflective life, illustrating the effect of the dramatic events of Marathon (and Salamis) on his world-view, and the changes in his ‘theology’, and the subsequent changes in the Athenian world-view induced by his works.

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