‘Your kindness to the human race has earned you this.
A god who would not bow to the gods’ anger – you
Transgressing right, gave privileges to mortal men’
Aeschylus (525–456 BC) brought a new grandeur and epic sweep to the drama of classical Athens, raising it to the status of high art. In Prometheus Bound the defiant Titan Prometheus is brutally punished by Zeus for daring to improve the state of wretchedness and servitude in which mankind is kept. The Suppliants tells the story of the fifty daughters of Danaus who must flee to escape enforced marriages, while Seven Against Thebes shows the inexorable downfall of the last members of the cursed family of Oedipus. And The Persians, the only Greek tragedy to deal with events from recent Athenian history, depicts the aftermath of the defeat of Persia in the battle of Salamis, with a sympathetic portrayal of its disgraced King Xerxes.
Philip Vellacott’s evocative translation is accompanied by an introduction, with individual discussions of the plays, and their sources in history and mythology.