Aeschylus was born at Eleusis of a noble family. He fought at the Battle of Marathon (490 b.c.), where a small Greek band heroically defeated the invading Persians. At the time of his death in Sicily, Athens was in its golden age. In all of his extant works, his intense love of Greece and Athens finds expression. Of the nearly 90 plays attributed to him, only 7 survive. These are The Persians (produced in 472 b.c.), Seven against Thebes (467 b.c.), The Oresteia (458 b.c.)---which includes Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and Eumenides (or Furies) --- Suppliants (463 b.c.), and Prometheus Bound (c.460 b.c.). Six of the seven present mythological stories. The ornate language creates a mood of tragedy and reinforces the already stylized character of the Greek theater. Aeschylus called his prodigious output "dry scraps from Homer's banquet," because his plots and solemn language are derived from the epic poet. But a more accurate summation of Aeschylus would emphasize his grandeur of mind and spirit and the tragic dignity of his language. Because of his patriotism and belief in divine providence, there is a profound moral order to his plays. Characters such as Clytemnestra, Orestes, and Prometheus personify a great passion or principle. As individuals they conflict with divine will, but, ultimately, justice prevails. Aeschylus's introduction of the second actor made real theater possible, because the two could address each other and act several roles. His successors imitated his costumes, dances, spectacular effects, long descriptions, choral refrains, invocations, and dialogue. Swinburne's (see Vol. 1) enthusiasm for The Oresteia sums up all praises of Aeschylus; he called it simply "the greatest achievement of the human mind." Because of his great achievements, Aeschylus might be considered the "father of tragedy."
Alan H. Sommerstein is Professor of Greek, University of Nottingham.
Author's (Mark Ahavel) Biography The author was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1963 in a Roman Catholic hospital during the middle of Vatican II (1962-'64). And his exact birthday coincides with the day that the prophet Muhammad completed is Hijrah (migration) to Medina, according to Muslim tradition, a significant event in the life of the Prophet for Muslims. In 1963, the Baha'i Faith celebrated their 100th anniversary and they established their International House of Justice on Mt. Carmel, Haifa, Israel. From the year and the date of the author's birth, one can certainly find ecumenical and interfaith significance, perhaps a portent of his destiny. The author was baptized as an infant in a Roman Catholic parish, and was raised in a Protestant congregation and its parochial school from kindergarten to the 5th grade. These were faith-formative years for the author, raised in a Christian tradition. He felt the Call to the Ministry during his first two years of college but it was unclear what kind of ministry God was wooing him to. He completed his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education at a private Christian liberal arts college of his denomination by the end of 1985. He was in the seminary from 1990 to 1994, earning his Masters of Divinity degree in May 1994. He served five years in the pastoral ministry in a conservative Christian body. He was sensing God was leading him to a more ecumenical ministry. His ecumenical ministry began through creating and managing a global online prayer site In 2009, the same year, he began teaching the World Religions course at the community college as an Adjunct Instructor. The teaching of this broad course stretched his own understanding tremendously and he intensified his research in the world's religions, beyond the Judeo-Christian foundation of which he was most acquainted. He is a member in the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Biblical Literature.