Persia (tragedy)


November 27, 2021

One of the tragedies of Aeschylus in Persia (original title ːρσαι) It was presented in 472, the earliest of the seven surviving works of the Greek playwright. It was staged as part of a trilogy, the other two of which were about Phineus, king of the harpies, and Glaucus, Bellerophon's father. They were followed by a satirical play by Aeschylus entitled Fire-lit Prometheus.


The peculiarity of the Persians is that, unlike the dramas of the time, it does not deal with a mythological theme, but with the recent real event, the Battle of Salamis. Aeschylus did not know the history of the Battle of Salamis without telling, for he had taken part in the battles, just as he had before in the Battle of Marathon. Sentences given in the messenger's mouth - "I was there, I will not tell you by hearing, Persians, the destruction that took place there" * (266-267) - were also called to prove the authenticity of Aeschylus' drama. Herodotus also relied on the tragedy as a source in his work describing the Greco-Persian War. The tragedy, also in an unusual way, does not focus on the Greek triumph, but on the Persian defeat, as it presents the events from a Persian perspective, thus creating sympathy for the defeated enemy. However, Aeschylus retains his patriotism as he elevates Queen Atos, who is waiting for his son, as a tragic hero by emphasizing Athens ’role in the Greco-Persian war. The description of the battle, the presentation of the mighty Persian army, also emphasizes Greek heroism. Aeschylus sees war as a clash of two different moral approaches, backed by the Persian hybris. Darius' summoned spirit also calls Xerxes foolish (725), foolish (733), and ignorant (744) for initiating the campaign, thus turning the wrath of Zeus against himself. “He thought it foolish that though he was mortal, he would defeat all the deities and Poseidon, that which is other than that which had taken over my son was foolish” (749-751), says the king’s shadow. Given that the tragedy was presented eight years after the Battle of Salamis, Aeschylus ’drama warned Greek warlords, who were becoming increasingly self-confident after the victories, such as Paussanias and Kimono that the hybris could lead to their downfall. However, this admonition was addressed not only to the military leaders, but to the whole of Athens, which was increasingly using the Southern Alliance for its own power aspirations, thus battering Greek cooperation with the Persians.

His act

The piece begins with a description of the situation of the conductor, from which viewers learn that the tragedy is taking place in Persia while Xerxes ’armies are fighting on Greek soil. The commander lists who of the Persian leaders joined the army. . Atosus, Xerxes ’mother, Darius’ widow, appears, tormented by bad dreams, asking for the advice of the elders, personified by the arm, to interpret what they saw in their sleep, what they meant to their son and army fighting in the distance. The response of the elders is concise and pessimistic, as it is also reminiscent of the fall of Darius (159-249). Then an announcer arrives from Salamis, who describes in detail the course of the battle and announces the severe Persian defeat. He also reports that Xerxes survived the battle (249-514). There is chaos among the Persians. Atossa presents a sacrifice to the gods, while the elders summon the spirit of Darius, who takes the long journey from the underworld to give advice (515-842). The dead king foretells that there will be another blood for the Persian army

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