BiographyEschyle, wire of Euphorion, dème of the mysteries of Eleusis, are born with Éleusis in Attique in an aristocratic family. It is in its youth the witness of the end of the tyranny of Pisistratides to Athens.
It is one of the “Marathonomaques”: it takes share, within the framework of the wars carried out against Persians, with the Bataille of Marathon (490) like to that of Salamine in 480. Some of its works, like Persians or the Seven against Thèbes , must much with this experiment of the war. He is only large Greek poets of the traditional age which was pilot development of the Athenian Démocratie. Begging Them thus contains the first reference which reached us to a “capacity of the people”. In the same way, the representation of the creation of the Learned assembly, court charged to judge homicides, in the Euménides , appears a support for the reform of Éphialtès (462): transfer of the political powers of the Learned assembly to the council of the Five hundreds). To a certain time, one says, it is continued to have revealed the mysteries of Éleusis, but it succeeds in being cleared because it was not initiated.
It is at the origin of the upheavals of the tragedy which was a kind of Mélopée, where only one character told or mimait some heroic exploit. Eschyle then puts in scene two actors and makes possible the drama itself. Thereafter, it followed Sophocle by putting in scene three actors.
He dies in Géla, in Sicily, to have received on the head, according to the legend, a tortoise that a bearded Gypaète had released on its head bald person, that he had taken for a stone.
The magistrates granted to play its parts after its death, honor exceptional.
The prevalence of the trilogic form at Eschyle, which appears only in the last part of its life and its work, is undoubtedly not a chance. One wondered whether this structure, far from being a traditional obligation imposed to the poets and from which they would have gradually sought to be released, were not on the contrary an invention of Eschyle, creates by him and disappeared with him. In any case it is appropriate perfectly for its genius: it provides a framework privileged to the expression of its dialectical design, where two tragedies oppose the aspects of a problem, the third resolvent and " dépassant" the discrepancy, reconciling the opposites. The only clear example for us is Orestie, since it is the only complete trilogy which we have.
This dialectical is exerted on two plans: the divine plan and the human plan. On the one hand in the reconciliation of the old divinities and the new gods, and the integration of the antiquated worships in the ceremonies of the democratic city; in addition in the search for a political and social ideal which ensures a justice able to exceed and make useless old the justice of blood based on revenge, without abolishing however the rites of them. The human organization is the reflection of a cosmic order; the freedom of the men is to achieve the will of the gods; and this will is not an arbitrary capacity but the incarnation of this balance of the world which excludes and represses any going beyond (the Hybris) likely to compromise it. The human erreure (Atè), generator of imbalance, comprises its own punishment. Any excess involves a contrary excess, and the right repression of the crimes itself, if it exceeds measurement, involves an inversion of the right, until better balanced institutions ensures the reign of equity (Orestie). The empires are subjected to the same laws (Persians). Admittedly, it is difficult, for our modern logic, to reconcile this imposing design, where the religious order and cosmic sublimates the political organization and social, with the traditional image of the gods of the mythology which one sees reappearing in certain works; but the ancient religion is usual of these " amalgames" , the same gods take different figures according to the cities, the spirits or the various circumstances and these images can be superimposed without contradiction as appearing shocking as it would be it for us.
The impressions create by works of Eschyle do not answer exactly the design of the traditional Dramaturgie. Individual psychology is not the spring, not that it is absent from theater of Eschyle: characters like that of Etéocle or Clytemnestre have an astonishing size and a truth; but it is not them which determine the action. The characters incarnate of great forces more than they do not obey personal reactions. Even when the human mobiles, like the jealousy or pride, push them, it is only like agents of these higher powers. That does not want to say that they are " marionnettes" in the hand of the gods; but, as we said, the human action and the divine will double or merge.
Such a theater has only to make adventures and reversals. This simplicity of composition had been also recognized in antiquity. The emotion is created by the atmosphere more than by the events. When those burst, however unforeseen they are, they were prepared less by the recall of other facts or allusions that by presentiments and waitings. The role of the chorus (in particular in Persians and Agamemnon) is capital in this respect. The rise continues anguish contributes to the dramatic progression more than the succession of the facts. Those come only in confirmation from that one. It is a great crescendo outcome with a fall, more than one sequence of actions which combine or cross.
Eschyle wrote 73 parts (or 90, according to the sources) and gained its first victory in dramatic composition in 484. It gains 13 victories during its life. At its beginnings, he is the rival of Pratinas, Phrynichos and Choerilos of Athens, and at a more advanced age of Sophocle which beats it in 468.
Seven parts only reached us; we know that six of them come from tetralogies which gained prices:
- Seven against Thèbes ( Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ Θήϐας / Heptà epì Thếbas ), represented in 467;
- Begging Them ( Ἱκέτιδες / Hikétides ), probably represented in 463;
- Orestie , represented in 458, which includes/understands:
- Agamemnon ( Ἀγαμέμνων / Agamémnôn ),
- Choéphores ( Χοηφόροι / Khoêphóroi ),
- Euménides ( Εὐμενίδες / Eumenídes );
- Prométhée connected ( Προμηθεὺς δεσμώτης / Promêtheùs desmốtês ) of which attribution is discussed.
Other parts unfortunately did not reach us but we know that they existed:
trilogy of 467: Phinée , Glaucos - Sphinx (drama satyric);
- trilogy of 463: Danaïdes , the Egyptians ;
- trilogy of 458: Protée (drama satyric);
- trilogy of Prométhée: Prométhée delivered , Prométhée carry-fire .
- the pilgrims
- the sinners
- Cariens or Europe
- the achilléide : let us myrmidons Them and Phrygian the
The founder of the tragedy
One generally regards Eschyle as the “creator of the tragedy”, according to the expression of G. Murray. It made possible a true dialog and a dramatic action in:
- giving to the tragedy rigorous laws;
- releasing the theater of lyricism choral;
- bringing the dialog and the action;
- introducing one 2nd character;
- innovating on the plan of the mask, the costume and the setting in scene by simplifying them what gives them more expressive power.
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