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Former good articleAeschylus was one of the History good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
April 28, 2006Peer reviewReviewed
February 18, 2007Good article nomineeListed
March 8, 2007Peer reviewReviewed
May 25, 2009Good article reassessmentDelisted
Current status: Delisted good article


Even in our sleep, a pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.- Aeschylus (525–456 BC)

Robert Kennedy quoted these lines as he told an Indianapolis crowd of the assassination of Martin Luther King. Kennedy was himself assassinated a few months later. Does anyone know the text source?

It's from lines 179-80 of Agamemnon. Ifnkovhg (talk) 01:42, 19 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I read in a reliable source this guy was killed when an eagle, mistaking his head for a rock, dropped a tortoise on him.Eddisford 21:09, 17 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


This article is tagged for copyedit, but I read through it and it seems fine. Can someone double-check? Omgitsmonica 02:14, 19 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lots of run-on sentences, I guess. It would read more smoothly if they were split up. I didn't notice anything else. Weefz 00:17, 22 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

comment header[edit]

That Aeschylus' plays end more happily than those of other playwrights is questionable. Of his six extant plays, only the Eumenides and possibly the Hiketides end happily. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 22:11, 26 September 2003 (UTC).Reply[reply]

Well, they end more happily than, say, Oedipus or Antigone, by Sophocles, in which most of the lead characters all die. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by RonoxQ (talkcontribs) 16:56, 30 October 2005 UTC).

I would also question the assertion that Aeschylus didn't write about -your mom- Prometheus Bound. Some mention should be made of the theory that he wrote it at the end of his life, in Gela. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 22:04, 26 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, no one person is sure of what happened. However, there has been analytical work proving that the style of writing didn't come close to matching that of Aeschylus. —Preceding unsigned comment added by RonoxQ (talkcontribs) 16:56, 30 October 2005 UTC)
That analytical work is also questionable; the vocabulary is most certainly Aeschylean. It is to be granted that it is not as rich in metaphor as, say, Seven Against Thebes, but I'm not so sure that the "majority" of scholars would say it wasn't written by Aeschylus. It is true that at least some of the choruses are questionable, though. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nolewr (talkcontribs) 05:46, 11 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

the bird/eagle..[edit]

why did the eagle drop the turtle on Aeschylus' head?? What did has it mistaken his head with? an egg?? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 05:55, 19 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, it mistook his head for a rock. Birds drop turtles on rocks to crack open their shells, but in this case it was Aeschylus's head that cracked.
However, I doubt it was an eagle, as eagles are one of the few birds strong enough to pry a turtle out without a rock to help. 16:53, 30 —Preceding unsigned comment added by RonoxQ (talkcontribs) October 2005 (UTC)
Article surely ought to make some mention of this. Drutt 07:54, 7 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Prometheus Shrine[edit]

Outside the GE building in Rockefeller center is a sculpture of Prometheus with a quote from Aeschylus inscribed. Anyone know what this quote is? --Atlastawake 16:35, 20 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well you can read most of the inscription on this photo. And a bit of net searching shows that the full (translated) quote from Aeschylus is:
Prometheus, teacher in every art, brought the fire
that hath proved to mortals a means to mighty ends
Sorry, a bit of a slow response. But better late than never... -- Solipsist 10:56, 23 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Aeschylus Fragment?[edit]

I'd like to discuss where the proof is for the claim that some lost Aeschylus was found in the wrappings of a mummy. I recently saw Peter Meineck, a translator of Aeschylus and a ancient Greek scholar, and asked him about this claim. He firmly denied it, saying that this is a rumor that has been going around for years. He confirmed that some lost Sophocles had been found, but no Aeschylus. 16:00, 24 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. The Aeschylus fragments part (and the entire article on the Achilleis play) should be supported by storng references. The only source of information I found on this subject were fishy press releases. It was probably all a marketing stunt to promote a new play based on the few fragments that remain... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 09:58, 30 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I removed the section about the new fragments. Two recent fragments of Achilles plays have turned up that I know of; Trag.adesp. 640b in the addenda section to Kannichts TrG vol. 5 (2004), and one attributed to Sophocles (jr?), PAshm. Inv 89B (DAGM nr. 5, maybe also in Kannicht, which I do not have at hand right now). If new Aeschylus had been found in the early nineties it would have been introduced in the supplements to TrGF vol. 5 or vol. 4, ed. 2 (1999).

Further edits[edit]

I also removed the dating of the Prometheus to the fourth century; discussions generally talk about late fifth century.--Petrus Olaus 07:23, 10 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I corrected the epitaph in the Biography section, and added a version with breathing signs and polytonic accents. Also added reference, and changed certain Aeschylean authorship to possible.--Petrus Olaus 17:50, 10 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I removed the ref. to Cratinus; the problem about this possible allusion is too complicated for a dictionary article. It has been suggested that Cratinus parodied not the Pr.Vinctus but the Prometheus liberatus, a drama of which a few fragments attributed to Aeschylus have been preserved (TrGF vol 3, frr. 190-204). However, the relation of the Liberatus to the preserved Pr.Vinctus is uncertain. Liberatus may in fact be genuine; there are some indications that it may be older than 467 B.C.

Source: Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, vol. 3, Aeschylus (ed. S. L. Radt, Göttingen 1985) p. 307.--Petrus Olaus 19:40, 10 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am a classicist specializing in Aeschylus who is "between jobs" and thus has some time to kill. As a consequence:

1. I removed the reference to the tragic competitions at the Lenaia, because they are irrelevant to Aeschylus' career. He died in 456, and tragic competitions did not become part of the Lenaia until ca. 440's-430's.

2. I removed the reference to the Lammergeier, as it lends credibility to the surely apocryphal "death by eagle" legend.

3. In the "Works" section, I elaborated on Aeschylus' significant tendency (not shared by Sophocles or Euripides) to write connected trilogies, providing a brief catalogue of lost trilogies sugested by known play titles. In the Seven against Thebes, Suppliants and Prometheus Bound subsections, I likewise elaborated on the trilogies to which the respective plays have been argued to belong.

4. I altered the Prometheus Bound section to reflect that (while I still hold out hope) confidence in Aeschylean authorship has steadily eroded. I need to get to a university library to collect references from Sommerstein, West, et al., but n. 14 must take Griffith 1983 out of context. Though Griffith remains admirably restrained in his commentary, by 1977 he had argued against authenticity, and some pretty big names have followed suit.

5. I removed the following sentence from the "Influence" section: "Scholars assume that the weighty themes of his plays were intended to inspire thought and conversation among Athenian audiences, but almost no sources exist that describe how audiences engaged intellectually with Greek theater." This is patently false. In The Frogs, for example, Aristophanes explicitly credits Aeschylus with educating the Athenian polis. Moreover, the last 15 years have seen an avalanche of scholarship detailing the interaction between Greek tragedy and contemporary history and society. Off the top of my head, see: Nothing to Do with Dionysos?, eds. J.J. Winkler and F. Zeitlin 1992; History, Tragedy, Theory, ed. Barbara Goff 1995; Greek Tragedy and the Historian, ed. C. Pelling 1997. I also added the possibility that Aeschylus introduced scene-painting to Greek tragedy. The "Influence" section still seems thin to me. [ Ifnkovhg 22:58, 3 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

6. I made some changes to the "life" section: Athens faced Persia alone at Marathon, and the Delian League had not yet been created; Pausanias was not Aeschylus' friend, as he was born hundreds of years later. I also made some additions to the "influence" section. Ifnkovhg 06:41, 12 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've started an approach that may apply to Wikipedia's Core Biography articles: creating a branching list page based on in popular culture information. I started that last year while I raised Joan of Arc to featured article when I created Cultural depictions of Joan of Arc, which has become a featured list. Recently I also created Cultural depictions of Alexander the Great out of material that had been deleted from the biography article. Since cultural references sometimes get deleted without discussion, I'd like to suggest this as a model for the editors here. Regards, Durova 16:00, 17 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"the tyrant of Gela" - the Gela article mentions multiple "rulers", but without an exact year to work off, this is difficult. The only one mentioned as a "tyrant" appears to have been a generation before Aeschylus was likely to travel there. Sherurcij (Speaker for the Dead) 22:01, 31 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Prometheus Bound[edit]

Just from a quick browse, it appears that this article says that the Prometheus Bound is not by Aeschylus. This is questionable; the introduction to Griffith's recent edition says "Most modern scholars have seen no good reason to doubt the traditional ascritpion, though opinions as to date have varied." (Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, ed. Mark Griffith, Cambridge, 1983, p. 32.) I think the article should simply note that the authenticity of the play is disputed, and give details at Prometheus Bound. --Akhilleus (talk) 22:08, 17 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hopefully this will not irritate anyone, but I've changed what the article says about Prometheus, including the bit in the lede which said that six plays survived--it now says "Unfortunately, only seven of an estimated 70 plays by Aeschylus have survived into modern times; one of these plays, the Prometheus Bound, is sometimes thought not to be the work of Aeschylus." The reason for this is that the majority opinion of classical scholars is that the PB is usually thought to be authentic. If you were taking a Greek Lit exam, you'd want to say that we have seven Aeschylus plays--but you'd want to follow that immediately by saying that maybe the PB isn't by Aeschylus. It's worth noting that Griffith wrote a book arguing that the PB wasn't by Aeschylus (M. Griffith, The Authenticity of Prometheus Bound, Cambridge 1977), but still said in his 1983 commentary that most scholars consider the play as a work of Aeschylus--a good indication of the majority opinion. T.K. Hubbard, "Recitative Anapests and the Authenticity of Prometheus Bound", The American Journal of Philology, 112 (1991), pp. 439-460 argues for the play's authenticity and rebuts some of Griffith's arguments, and I believe the Oxford Classical Dictionary entry on Aeschylus reflects current consensus when it says "Seven plays have survived via medieval manuscripts, of which Prometheus Bound is of disputed authenticity..." (entry on Aeschylus, p. 27).

The arguments for and against authenticity are fairly interesting, and might be worth covering in detail, but the place for that is probably Prometheus Bound. --Akhilleus (talk) 05:42, 18 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Good article[edit]

This article was nominated as a Good Article Candidate. It meets all requirements—well done! Further improvement might include more detail on the contents of his plays. I have also added some wikilinks to relevant unlinked terms. A mild copyedit would help improve sentences like "However, the glory was tempered for Aeschylus personally when his brother was killed in the battle." –Outriggr § 05:01, 18 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Harry Potter[edit]

I've removed a reference to Harry Potter. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, quoted a brief part of the Libation Bearers in an epigraph to the final Harry Potter novel. This doesn't merit an entry here. Many authors have referred to the work in far more significant ways. --Tony Sidaway 22:57, 27 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You're fighting a losing battle there... Someone's eventually gonna put it back, I barely resisted the tempation
But good luck : ) -Panther (talk) 22:13, 24 June 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In the third volume of I Am a Cat, the Cat tells the story of Aeschylus's death. Shouldn't this be mentioned? 瀬人様 17:33, 2 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not in this article. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:04, 2 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This Lammergeier nonsense must stop.[edit]

The story of Aeschylus' death from above by rock or turtle is unquestionably apocryphal. Weird deaths were similarly ascribed to (e.g.) Homer, and the philosopher Chrysippus. It is a literary trope, and to be given no weight. The Lammergeier stuff seems (to me) to lend credence to the story, which is a mistake. Ifnkovhg 08:32, 12 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It seems to me that mention of Lammergeier habits is relevant. It "gives credence", not to the death of Aeschylus in particular, but at least to the possibility of death by this means. If it is omitted, the reputed death seems a wholly random event, far too unlikely to be plausible, like being hit by a meteorite. However, if it is included it allows a more balanced judgement to be made about whether it might apply to him, or indeed to anyone else.
In any case, however unlikely or implausible the reputed death, it's hard to see how an article about Aeschylus could omit the widely-told story altogether – and if that is included, the Lammergeier habit should certainly be too. If you feel that the story itself lacks credence, I suggest you find a reference for that, and put in a new section about it, discussing it from both sides.
Finally, how can something be "unquestionably apocryphal"? For all we know, philosophers and writers in Ancient Greece were going down like ninepins to passing Lammergeiers. We can be sceptical about a story told about several different people, but it is risky to say that it must therefore not have occurred to any of them. And if it is indeed a "literary trope" (personally I think so), is that not interesting in itself?--Richard New Forest 09:41, 12 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Richard, I see your point. I don't object to the story about Aeschylus' death, but the way in which it is presented. I think my objection lies chiefly with the wording. "This may not be as unlikely as it seems..." This formulation smacks of advocacy. I would prefer something more neutral, such as "This story was perhaps inspired by..." or words to that effect.

I also object to the Lammergeier reference for its specificity. Such a method for eating tortoises is equally true of (e.g.) the golden eagle; Aesop attributes this act to a generic eagle in one of his fables. Thus I find trying to identify the species of eagle that killed Aeschylus is rather like trying to determine Capt. Kirk's blood type, because...

This story is to be taken with a huge grain of salt. "Unquestionably apocryphal" may be a tad strong, but just barely. Where the historical record is silent, the invention of improbable, tragicomic deaths for famous people appears to be the norm in antiquity. To those I've already cited, we may add Hesiod, Pythagoras and Archimedes. I'm sure there are others. Given the tendency in historiography to ascribe outlandish deaths to famous figures, and given the astronomical odds of such a death (while not impossible) occurring ever, much less to Aeschylus, I think we can safely call this an urban legend. Absolute certainty is, of course, impossible. But c'mon. There's no way this happened to Aeschylus. I've read a fair amount of Aeschylean scholarship, and I can't recall a single academic who gives any weight to this story.

How do y'all like my soapbox?Ifnkovhg 05:39, 13 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think the point about the Lammergeier is that smashing bones and tortoises is its usual habit. Other birds do it (not heard of Golden Eagle, but certainly crows and gulls), but it is the only one I'm aware of which does it habitually with objects big enough to kill a playwright. I think "invention" is not quite right. Is it not the case that these stories served to illustrate a general belief in fate – giving a character an appropriately ironic death? If so, the story told about a particular figure becomes highly relevant, whether true or not.--Richard New Forest 09:01, 13 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Made a Septem edit.[edit]

I deleted the following, because it's almost entirely wrong:

"She defies the order of the new king, Creon, banning anyone from burying Polynices. In response, Creon sentences her to be buried alive, and Antigone commits suicide just before Creon is persuaded to rescind his order. The remainder of the play is an orgy of deaths. Creon is killed by his son, Haemon, who was betrothed to Antigone and who immediately afterwards kills himself. Then Eurydice, Creon's wife, kills herself in mourning. This ending entirely mirrors the plot of Antigone."

Creon, Haemon and Eurydice are NOT characters in the Septem. Not even in the spurious ending that features Antigone. These characters' actions that the author describes "entirely mirror[ing]" Antigone's plot is also off. In Sophocles' play, Eurydice does kill herself after Haemon killed himself. Haemon tried to kill Creon, but failed. Creon is alive at the end of Antigone. The entirety of the spurious ending is simply this: Antigone and Ismene mourn their dead brothers; a messenger announces the prohibtion against burying Polyneices; and Antigone announces her intention to defy that edict. This new ending was likely written to turn Aeschylus' Septem into a prequel of sorts to Sophocles' Antigone.Ifnkovhg 01:04, 15 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Freeman references[edit]

I have noticed that there are a lot of references made to a work by Freeman (1999), but that this work is not actually listed in the Notes or References sections.

I have gone back to the origin of the article and it does not seem to be that the reference has been removed; it just was never there. Is this a reference to Freeman's "The Greek Achievement"?

I do not have ready access to a copy of this work, so I cannot check to see if the page references in the article refer to that book. Does anyone know why there is no mention of the actual book by Freeman in this article, given that it is referenced so many times? MarkHudson (talk) 12:06, 9 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Who wrote the rhyming translation of the epitaph? --NigelG (or Ndsg) | Talk 11:23, 5 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

After some Google madness, I found the translator: Edward Haynes Plumptre, an early 20th century scholar (which explains the rhyming nonsense. Here's the link to Google Books [1] and his translation is in the Life of Aeschylus section on page xlvii. I'd much rather we find a more modern (read: not ghastly) translation before we cite. CaveatLector Talk Contrib 05:18, 6 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply] gives this literal prose rendering:
Beneath this stone lies Aeschylus, son of Euphorion, the Athenian, who perished in the wheat-bearing land of Gela; of his noble prowess the grove of Marathon can speak, or the long-haired Persian who knows it well.
I suggest that even this would be an improvement until someone comes up with a more inspired version. --NigelG (or Ndsg) | Talk 10:26, 6 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've been trying to track down the original sources of the epitaph. Guided by this page [2] I found out that apparently it appears in its entirety in a "Life of Aeschylus" in a manuscript known as the Medicean Codex. However, I haven't been able to find a version of this text that can be read online. The first two lines of the epitaph are also found in Plutarch's "Of Banishment" which can be found in translation here [3]

"Here lieth buried Aeschylus, the son / Of the Athenian Euphorion; / In Sicily his latest breath did yield / And buried lies by Gela’s fruitful field."

Meanwhile, the Marathon portion is described by Pausanias, in "Description of Greece" 1.14.5, available on Perseus in a 1918 English translation:

"Still farther of is a temple to Glory, this too being a thank-offering for the victory over the Persians, who had landed at Marathon. This is the victory of which I am of opinion the Athenians were proudest; while Aeschylus, who had won such renown for his poetry and for his share in the naval battles before Artemisium and at Salamis, recorded at the prospect of death nothing else, and merely wrote his name, his father's name, and the name of his city, and added that he had witnesses to his valor in the grove at Marathon and in the Persians who landed there."

and also by Athenaeus of Naucratis in "The Deipnosophists" XIV, a translation of which by C. D. Yonge can be found here [4]:

"The grove of Marathon, and the long-hair'd Medes, / Who felt his courage, well may speak of it."

Anyway, I hope we can source the epitaph properly instead of referring just to the secondary source that's there now.

Iphthime (talk) 21:59, 17 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Eagle and tortoise death a debunked legend.[edit]

Encyclopedia Britannica states: "A ludicrous story that he was killed when an eagle dropped a tortoise on his bald pate was presumably fabricated by a later comic writer." -

Microsoft's Encarta list details of his death but makes no mention of a tortoise or any other object falling on his head:

Older texts might repeat the tortoise and eagle story, but as the above, modern, references show, this legend has been debunked. No other modern reference could be found online to give validity to the legend. --JeffJ (talk) 05:06, 16 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

E.B. considering the story ludicrous and presuming fabrication by a later comic writer hardly (by itself) rates as debunking. The sentences removed did a good job of indicating that the circumstances of his death are not reliably know, while at the same time explaining that the story might not be a "ludicrous" as first perceived. However valid the legend, it is notably associated with Aeschylus, and mention should be restored. It should be improved if a source can be found that attempts to trace the origins of this legend. -- Kirk Hilliard (talk) 14:01, 16 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think it's fine if you want to include information about the legend, but in its proper context. Wikipedia receives a great deal of criticism about accuracy and care should be taken not to perpetuate misinformation. --JeffJ (talk) 17:06, 16 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In the absence of an alternative theory or history regarding his death, there is no reason to misrepresent the story of his death as an "urban legend" simply because there is an absence of evidence in support of it. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, one must regard the original text as a factual account - why should we trust what was written of his life, if we do not trust what was written of his death? (And, I should note, there is no reason to cast aspersions on the tale as being "ludicrous." Death due to a falling object is hardly unusual.) (talk) 04:54, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The way we resolve such disagreements is via reliable sources, not the subjective opinions of editors. In the absence of another reliable source that suggests otherwise, the Encyclopedia Britannica's description ought to be followed. DionysosProteus (talk) 17:00, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I bashed my head against this wall a while ago, to no avail. Don't waste your breath, DionysusProteus. As for "Death due to falling object is hardly unusual": I've done no research in this area, but I would hazard a guess that such a manner of death doesn't even crack the top 50. The story's apocryphal. All the experts agree. The rest of you need to defer to their collective wisdom. Ifnkovhg (talk) 23:38, 23 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

OK, so what is know about the "legend" of his death? I've not been very successful with google book search on this subject, getting a lot of returns without preview or with only unhelpful snippet views.

My general understanding is that there is no surviving contemporary record of the manner of his death, but that someone (who?) wrote a few hundred years later (when?) that he had been killed by a tortoise dropped from an eagle. It was also written (by that same author?) that the eagle had mistaken his bald head for a rock. When was the veracity of this report first questioned, and was the questioner skeptical of "death by ballistic tortoise", or of the deliberate aim of the eagle? (Ossifrages do drop both bones and tortoises from height to crack them open, but I've never seen mention of their taking aim at individual stones. Perhaps the earliest skeptics questioned not the manner of death as much as the intent of the eagle with its implied ridicule of Aeschylus's bald pate.) Does anybody here have any good references?

The EB link above only states, "A ludicrous story that he was killed when an eagle dropped a tortoise on his bald pate was presumably fabricated by a later comic writer." It gives no specific indication as to why the editors consider the story ludicrous. -- Kirk Hilliard (talk) 09:16, 27 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The story about the eagle and tortoise comes from a short biography of Aeschylus appended to an 11th-century manuscript of his plays. The biography itself was anonymously written much earlier -- perhaps some time during the original collation of Aeschylus' plays at the Alexandrian Library in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. The relevant passage reads (forgive the transliteration):
geraious eteleuta touton ton tropon: aetos gar chelonen harpasas, hos eykrates genesthai tes agras ouk ischuen, aphiesi kata petron auten sunthlasson to derma he de enechtheisa kata tou poietou phoneuei auton. chresteriastheis de en, "ouranion se belos kataktenei."
which in English reads (more or less): "As an old man he came to an end in this way: when an eagle snatched a tortoise, since it was not strong enough to overcome its prey, the eagle tossed it against the rocks in order to smash its shell, and dropping it on the poet, the eagle killed him. And it had been prophesied (to Aeschylus), 'a heavenly missile will kill you.'"
We have every reason to write this off as an urban legend. First, the tortoise-shelling habits of certain birds notwithstanding, this is the only account ever written of someone dying in this manner; not just in antiquity, but also in the 2000-plus years since. Maybe someone trained in statistical probabilities would like to chime in, but I feel confident that the chances of this happening to anyone, ever -- let alone to Aeschylus of all people -- are extremely remote. Moreover, it is a topos in ancient biography to attribute outlandish deaths to famous people; similarly weird deaths can be found in the ancient biographies of (e.g.) Homer, Hesiod, Pythagoras, Sophocles, Archimedes and Chryssipus. If you get one goofy death attributed to a famous guy, fine; maybe we should take it at face value. But as the goofy deaths pile up one after another, we need to ask ourselves what gives. And while I haven't read all of it, I've read a fair chunk of Aeschylean scholarship from @ the 1940's to the present. Every single author I've come across that mentions this story regards it as a fiction. Whether the original biographer thought the story was true is debatable I guess, but given the prevalence of the goofy-death genre in antiquity, I doubt it. Aeschylus probably died of old age. But what a boring story that is. Ifnkovhg (talk) 17:59, 27 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The current version of this is not acceptable as it seems to include original research. I am very willing to believe it to be an apocryphal story (I do not have enough knowledge of the subject to make a definite opinion on this), however it needs sources that explicitly state this.

Quote:"It is claimed that he was killed by a tortoise which fell out of the sky after it was dropped by an eagle, but this story is very likely apocryphal.(citation)See (e.g.) Lefkowitz 1981, 67ff. Cf. Sommerstein 2002, 33, who entirely ignores this story when giving a biographical sketch of the poet.(endcitation)"

The conclusion that the story is apocryphal based on the absence of it in one biography is original research. Please add a source that states the story is apocryphal, and then you can continue with "Sommerstein does not even mention the story in his biography from 2002" or something like that.--Saddhiyama (talk) 18:55, 9 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I see your point about the OR re: Sommerstein, but I also included the Lefkowitz ref, which flat out denies the story's validity. I added the Sommerstein ref. because it is a very recent piece of scholarship which provides a biography of Aeschylus that does not find the eagle story worth mentioning. This silence is indicative of the story's credibility among modern scholars. Ifnkovhg (talk) 22:53, 9 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I must admit I had not even noticed that Lefkowitz citation, which kind of makes my point moot. I agree as I stated above that the absence of the story would only be OR if it was the only source cited. Sorry about the misunderstanding. --Saddhiyama (talk) 09:20, 10 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No hard feelings. Like I said, I think you might have a point. I take Aeschylus' biography in Sommerstein to be an argumentum ex silentio; this actually might be OR.

"Freeman" reference.[edit]

I'm not dead certain, but I would bet that the elusive Freeman reference is: Charles Freeman, The Greek Achievement: the foundation of the western world, 1999. Dare I add it to the bibliography? Ifnkovhg (talk) 06:52, 26 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I haven't been able to look at the book. Google Books only has snippet view, but searching this I'm pretty sure it's the right one (the main section on Aeschylus is on pp. 243-6), so it can safely be added. I don't think this fully solves the referencing issue though, as I wrote in the review. Lampman (talk) 13:36, 26 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Translating the term "Eumenides"[edit]

The article currently states "She also renames them The Awesome Goddesses, ". Is "The Awesome Goddesses" really a good translation for The 'Eumenides'? I mean, it sounds modern and trendy, but it doesn't convey any of the meaning of the word. I much prefer the version given in this article here, "The Kindly Ones", reflecting the greek roots 'eu-' (good) and 'menos' (mood or spirit). If no-one has any objection, I plan to change it.

Drjamesaustin (talk) 08:39, 24 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Usually pronounced /'i:sk ɪl əs/, /'i:sk əl əs/ in British usage. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:45, 2 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Aeschylus and "shame"[edit]

I'm removing the claim that Aeschylus's name means "shame". The reference cited is a baby naming site which, well, it doesn't look very reliable. Furthermore, there is a common misunderstanding of the ancient Greek word "aiskhos" as "shame" because the common biblical verb "aiskhynomai" does mean "to cause shame", but it's a metaphoric use of the word. The literal (and probably more common in his day) meaning is "disfigurement"; it is much more likely that Aeschylus's name was a reference to his appearance. I'm not listing this as a fact since I don't think there are any reliable sources for either meanings. (talk) 17:01, 26 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

'Aischos (Disgrace/Deformity) ulos (diminutive). Technically he was A little disgrace or Ugly little So-and-So! but it need not imply anything personal. Check out the OCD for names, personal, Greek: a personal name wasn't necessarily personal, any more than Bottom or Botham in English nomenclature always refers to the bottom of a hill, though originally it did. Some respectable Greeks got called Kopr... from kopros or shit. The Furies got called The Kindly Ones. To quote OCD: While there was a natural tendency for desirable attributes to be chosen, it is not always the case, and it remains a matter of psychological curiosity why some forms were chosen, and even handed down within families. However I agree that the claim should have a reliable source since it involves some speculation about the name's personal relevance for Aeschylus. Maybe he really was a little disgrace. Most poets are a disgrace, I believe. McCnut (talk) 05:24, 7 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cryptic paragraphs[edit]

These paragraphs:

Aeschylus was one of many Greeks who had been initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries, a cult to Demeter based in his hometown of Eleusis.[17] As the name implies, members of the cult were supposed to have gained some secret knowledge. Firm details of specific rites are sparse, as members were sworn under the penalty of death not to reveal anything about the Mysteries to non-initiates. Nevertheless, according to Aristotle some thought that Aeschylus had revealed some of the cult's secrets on stage.[18]
Other sources claim that an angry mob tried to kill Aeschylus on the spot, but he fled the scene. Heracleides of Pontus asserts that the crowd watching the play tried to stone Aeschylus. He then took refuge at the altar in the orchestra of the Theater of Dionysus. When he stood trial for his offense he pleaded ignorance. He was acquitted, with the jury sympathetic to the wounds that Aeschylus and his brother Cynegeirus suffered at Marathon. According to the 2nd-century AD author Aelian, Aeschylus's younger brother Ameinias helped acquit his brother by showing the jury the stump of the hand that he lost at Salamis, where he was voted bravest warrior. The truth is that the award for bravery at Salamis went to Ameinias of Pallene, not Aeschylus's brother.

are very unclear. Was the attempted lynching related to the supposed revelation of Eleusian secrets? If so, which play prompted the reaction? And if the revelation of Eleusian secrets was the problem, isn't it somewhat strange that he would be threatened by a mob (were initiates so numerous that they could form a mob?) Besides, the "other sources" aren't mentioned by name, which makes the passage somewhat weasely - and, in the way it is constructed, it seems to imply that those other sources are somehow contradicting Aristotle.

So - what play prompted and attempt at lynching Aeschylus, and was it because of a leak of Eleusine secrets? What sources say that? Does Aristotle deny the attempted lynching, or its relation to the Eleusine misteries? Ninguém (talk) 12:54, 28 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Aeschylus/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Intro is too short. Article needs major expansion and more references. Kaldari 21:42, 20 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm keeping this article at Start-class for the moment. The lead section doesn't summarise the article. The general characteristics of Aeschylus' works are treated very briefly, and there's nothing on their reception or influence.

Also, referencing is very problematic at the moment. Important statements are uncited; e.g., that the Prometheus Bound "considered by modern scholars to be the work of an unknown playwright". The sources cited by inline citations in the "Life" section are mostly very old or otherwise of dubious reliability. There are two separate sets of footnotes, and those under "Notes" aren't connected to the body of the article. Most of the "References" aren't even cited in the article.

Thank you to the editors for their work so far. EALacey 11:14, 13 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Last edited at 11:14, 13 February 2007 (UTC). Substituted at 06:48, 29 April 2016 (UTC)