Aeschylus -525 - -456 (69)
Aeschylus (525 BC – 456 BC) was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians poets whose plays can still be read or performed, the others being Sophocles and Euripides. He is often described as the father of tragedy. Only seven of his estimated seventy to ninety plays have survived into modern times, and there is a longstanding debate about his authorship of one of these plays, Prometheus Bound. Fragments of some other plays have survived in quotes and more continue to be discovered on Egyptian papyrus, often giving us surprising insights into his work. He was probably the first dramatist to present plays as a trilogy; his Oresteia is the only ancient example of the form to have survived. With the exception of Prometheus Bound – the success of which is uncertain – all of Aeschylus's extant tragedies are known to have won first prize at the City Dionysia.
At least one of his works was influenced by the Persian invasion of Greece, which took place during his lifetime. This play, The Persians, is the only extant classical Greek tragedy concerned with recent history (very few of that kind were ever written) and it is a useful source of information about that period.
Aeschylus married and had two sons, Euphorion and Euaeon, both of whom became tragic poets. He fought with great courage in the battles of Marathon, Salamis and maybe Plataea. In the first of them he was hurt. He considered the highest honor that was a warrior rather than a peaceful citizen, so his epitaph commemorated his participation in the Greek victory at Marathon rather than his success as a playwright:
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,
and the long-haired Persian who knows it well.