Portrait bust of Greek dramatist Aeschylus.


(c. 525 BC - 456 BC)

Aeschylus began competing in Athens’ Great Dionysia dramatic festival in 499 bc but did not win his first victory until 484 bc. In the intervening years, the playwright fought in the Battle of Marathon and possibly the battles of Salamis and Plataea. He is believed to have written over eighty plays; seven complete tragedies survive, among them his Oresteia trilogy. The epitaph he purportedly composed for himself reads, “The grove of Marathon with its glories can speak of his valor in battle. The long-haired Persian remembers and can speak of it too.” He has been called the Father of Tragedy.

All Writing

If you stain clear water with filth, you will never find a drink.

—Aeschylus, 458 BC


According to Pliny, after an oracle predicted Aeschylus would die from being hit by a falling house, the poet began “trusting himself only under the canopy of the heavens.” His precaution was futile; he was killed that day when hit by a tortoise dropped from the sky by a hungry eagle eager to crack open its shell.

There is a sickness among tyrants: they cannot trust their friends.

—Aeschylus, c. 458 BC

Voices In Time

c. 1190 BC | Argos

Unwelcome Prophet

“From divination what good ever has come to men?”More


Philocles, the nephew of Aeschylus, received the prize for tragedy at the dramatic festival the year that Sophocles presented Oedipus Rex. None of his one hundred or so plays is extant.

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