A Brief Note on Aeschylean Tragedy

In his day, Aeschylus had published and produced more than ninety plays. Today, seven have survived. We are the fortunate beneficiaries of the complete Oresteia trilogy, telling the story of Orestes in avenging the blood of his father, and ending in Athena/Zeus declaring the predominance of law, over vengeance. This theme of the emergence, and protection of the law, is a consistent theme throughout Aeschylean tragedy. Many feature the question of nomos among and between nations, and how conflicts between customs can lead to war.

The other Aeschylean plays are only fragments -that is, they are not complete parts of the larger trilogies and tetralogies for which they were once written: The Suppliant MaidensThe PersiansThe Seven Against Thebes (a highly obscure play written as a listing of heroes featuring Oedipus and Anigone), and Prometheus Bound. Later, in Aristophanes, we find a profound defense of Aeschylus in The Frogs.

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