The only surviving trilogy from ancient times - a story of murder, madness and justice
Aeschylus (525-c.456 bc) set his great trilogy in the immediate aftermath of the Fall of Troy, when King Agamemnon returns to Argos, a victor in war. Agamemnon depicts the hero's discovery that his family has been destroyed by his wife's infidelity and ends with his death at her callous hand. Clytemnestra's crime is repaid in The Choephori when her outraged son Orestes kills both her and her lover. The Eumenides then follows Orestes as he is hounded to Athens by the Furies' law of vengeance and depicts Athene replacing the bloody cycle of revenge with a system of civil justice. Written in the years after the Battle of Marathon, The Oresteian Trilogy affirmed the deliverance of democratic Athens not only from Persian conquest, but also from its own barbaric past.
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About the Author
Aeschylus was born of noble family near Athens in 525 BC. He took part in the Persian Wars, and his epitaph represents him as fighting at Marathon. He wrote more than seventy plays, of which only seven have survived.
Philip Vellacott has translated Aeschylus and Euripides for the Penguin Classics. He taughts classics at Dulwich College for twenty-four years and lectured on Greek Drama in the USA. He was also a Visiting Lecturer in the University of California. He died in 1997.