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A History Of Tragedies Essay

2060 words - 9 pages

Where did tragedy originate, and who decided that killing the main characters of a play was best way to communicate his plot? Tragedy was invented by the Greeks long ago. In the fourth year of the sixty-third Olympiad, or 525 B.C., the first great tragic playwright was born (“Aeschylus”). The playwright's name was Aeschylus, son of Euphorion ("Aeschylus"), and he wrote about ninety plays, though the number is uncertain, seven of which have withstood the tests of time (Kopff). His works have been incredible to the point that he earned the title "Father of Tragedy" (Kopff).
How did Aeschylus write such great tragedies? He looked at his surroundings in the world. His world was in Athens, Greece, and he saw the beginning of democracy, which came to be a theme of The Oresteia (Kopff). In the government in Athens, white males could be citizens with rights to vote. However, the Persians attempted a takeover of Athens, among other Greek city-states, and Aeschylus abandoned his work as a tragic poet to fight for the Greeks. Athens was one of only four cities to refuse to submit to the Persians, who were then provoked to attack at Marathon, outnumbering the Greeks three to one (Lacey 44). In a battle that shocked everyone, the Greeks pulled through and won the battle (Lacey 44). Thereafter, the Greeks who fought at Marathon were known as "hard as oak" (Lacey 44). The Greek continued to win battles at Salamis and Plataea, and they continued to shock everyone (Lacey 44). After the Persian War, the Greeks proposed one and only one explanation for their seemingly inexplicable victory: the Persians were not tough enough to fight (Lacey 45). Soon enough, this idea developed into the stereotype that the Persians are "those soft sons of luxury," as Aeschylus refers to them in his play, The Persians (Lacey 45). The stereotype still remains intact today, as demonstrated by the action movie 300, in which the Persians are depicted as a soft and weak group of people. All of the false ideas about the Persians, who were actually quite proficient in warfare, their specialty being siege battles, were started by Aeschylus after one war (Lacey 44-45). Aeschylus did, however, go back home and return to his career as a tragic poet and playwright ("Aeschylus").
In order to continue his career, he had to enter some plays in the local festivals, which were a form of worship for Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and tragedy (Flickinger 119). The two festivals that showcased tragic art were City Dionysia and the Lenaea (Flickinger 119). Lenaea occurred near the end of Janurary and was a small gathering, while City Dionysia was a huge party that happened toward the end of March (Flickinger 196). These major cultural movements of the time paved the way for Aeschylus to make his move on the tragic playing field, since tragedy was up and coming in 534 B.C. (Flickinger 119). The Oresteia Trilogy finally debuted in 458 B.C. (Kopff) in front of representatives of other Greek...

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