Aeschylus was born in 525 B.C. and died in 466 B.C. He was the first of the three Athenian dramatists, the other two being Sophocles and Euripides. The first of Aeschylus plays were laid open in 499. He was established as the founder of tragedy, according to Aristotle. He diminished the importance of the chorus and introduced a second actor. Between the years of 484 and 458, he won awards at the festival in the City Dionysia. He wrote more than ninety plays, but only seven survive. The oldest of these is The Suppliant Maidens. The trilogy, Agamemnon, Choephore, and Eumendis, was not long before 458. Aeschylus acted in his own plays.
His family belonged to an old Athenian nobility and, as part of his duty, he fought in at least two wars where the Greeks defeated the Persians: Marathon and Salamis. Some scholars say that he participated in one or more of the northern expeditions in the years following the Persian War. Aeschylus died and was buried in Gela in 456 B.C. A fable state that an eagle dropped a tortoise on his bald head mistaking it for a rock that it could crack its rock on. That is ridiculous.
Word count: 202
The plot section:
A bit of background:
The king of Argos, Atreus, had a very large quarrel with Thyestes, his younger brother. Thyestes had seduced Atreus wife, Aerope. Thyestes went into exile. Agamemnon, seeking revenge, welcomed him back, promising forgiveness. When Thyestes returned, Agamemnon served Thyestes sons to him in a stew and showed their heads on a silver platter to him. Thyestes went into exile again.
Aerope had previously been married to Atreuss son Plisthenes and had two children, Agamemnon and Menalaus. The children were raised by Atreus and married sisters: Clymenstra and Helen. Paris stole Helen and Agamemnon arranged the war to get her back. This war lasted ten years and the plot starts at Agamemnons return home.
The watchman is sitting on the roof of Agamemnons palace awaiting the beacon signaling that the war was over. He is sad that his master is gone and what has been happening in his absence. What has been happening is Clymenstra has been getting friendly with Aegisthus, Thyestes son. Aegisthus is seeking revenge on Agamemnon and will kill him when he returns.
Clymenstra enters and the chorus asks her why she has lit so many sacrifices made on the altar. However, they add an omen before she answers. They say that they say two eagles tear open a rabbit. The eagles represent Agamemnon and Menalaus and the rabbit represented Troy. However, the god of hunt, Aretmis, was angry for Zeus allowing the eagles to do this to the rabbits. He was going to require a sacrifice from Agamemnon. They then cogitate the fact that Zeus places suffering with attaining wisdom. They then tell a story that happened during the war. Agamemnon was forced to choose between his daughter and his war companions. Artemus would not grant favorable winds to the Greeks unless Agamemnons daughter was sacrificed. He chose to sacrifice her in the end. Agamemnons loyalty to his army exceeded his loyalty to his family.
The chorus attribute the victory over Troy to Zeus and not to Agamemnon. They say that excessive wealth, daring, and causal for many deaths are sins committed that will bring punishment. There is evidence for a course of action against Agamemnon. A herald comes to reassure the chorus and Clymenstra that the war was truly over but the whereabouts of Menalaus were unknown. He also states that the temples in Troy were destroyed which further brings down Agamemnons stature.
Agamemnon arrives with Cassandra, his newly captured servant, and is praised and put down for the war. He goes to thank the gods for the victory. His humility and love of justice will not be leading him shortly after this. He requests that Cassandra be treated kindly. Clymenstra comes out of the house and politely asks Cassandra to come inside but receives no reply. Clymenstra storms angrily into the house. Cassandra calls for Apollo to help her in frenzy. She prophesies that Clymenstra will kill Agamemnon. The chorus rebukes her prophecy and asks her where she got it. She says Apollo gave it to her because he was in love with her but when she rejected him he decreed that noone shall ever believe her prophecies. Since she knows her death is coming, she asks that someone will come and avenge her death. She enters the house and hears the cries from Agamemnon that he has been stabbed.
The palace doors open revealing the bodies of Cassandra and Agamemnon. Clymenstra gives many reasons for her actions being justified. Aegisthus comes out of the palace and declares that his revenge has been exacted through Clymenstras actions. The chorus despises him for letting Clymenstra act out his revenge for him.
Word count: 494
The theme section:
I found three main themes while reading this delightful play. The first I will say is pride. Clymenstra was extremely prideful. She kept saying how good of a wife she was being to Agamemnon and how hard it was to be so faithful when we all know she was not really. From a Biblical perspective, pride is defiantly a sin. 1 John 2:16 says, For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. This tells us that lust and pride are of the world. Clymenstra was definitely of the world. She lusted after someone and was prideful in her lies. All of these things are wrong and we know that they are not looked upon favorably by our Father in heaven. We learn that from this book.
Another theme is do not commit adultery. It is in the Bible! Exodus 20:14 says, Thou shall not commit adultery.”This does not mean just sleeping with someone who is not your husband or wife. It can also mean do not lust with your eyes and mind. When you look at someone with lustful thoughts, it is considered adultery.
The last theme I saw was when Agamemnon walked on the tapestries to please his wife although he knew it would displease the gods. This teaches me that we should have an attitude of no compromise. He compromised his values for someone else. This is not the way things should be in Christian lives. Too many people compromise and stretch their values to suit everyone elses needs. Christ did not comprise on the cross, we should not either.
Word count: 297