525 - 456 BC
Aeschylus was the earliest of the great Greek tragedians
and the principal creator of Greek drama. He is called the
'Father of Tragedy'.
Aeschylus fought for Athens at Marathon (490 BC), helping defeat invading Persia. His first prize in a dramatic contest came in 484 BC, followed eight years later by his earliest extant work, 'The Persians'.
Before Aeschylus, tragedies had a single actor, who could only respond to suggestions of the chorus. By adding a second actor, Aeschylus was able to show intrigue and conflict. He reduced the chorus in size, lessening its importance in favour of dramatic dialogue. The chorus assumed a secondary role, commenting, warning or setting the mood for the action of the play which was now carried by the actors.
Of the 90 or so plays Aeschylus wrote, only seven
have survived in complete form, among them the 'Oresteia' trilogy,
'The Seven against Thebes' and 'Prometheus Bound'.
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