BLTC Press Titles


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Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour


Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner


Aeschylus

by Aeschylus

Excerpt:

Artaphernes, within ten miles of Athens. .flSschylus, with his brothers Cynaegeirus and Ameinias, were honoured with the highest marks of distinction for valour and conduct in the battle. Of Cynaegeirus Herodotus relates, that having pursued the Persians to their ships, he seized one of the vessels by the poop to board it, but his hand was lopped off by one of the crew, and he died of his wounds *.

In the intervals of his military campaigns, which were not like the long-protracted struggles of modern warfare, jUschylus continued to direct his attention to poetical composition. In the forty-first year of his age, he gained the Tragic prize, B.c. 484, the same year in which Herodotus was born. Four years after this he was wounded at the battle of Salamis, when the reward of extraordinary valour was conferred upon his brother Ameinias, who lost an arm in the engagement. Next year he fought at Plataaa, where of two hundred thousand Asiatics, the lowest computed number of the Persian force, scarcely three thousand men escaped with life by flight. jEschylus was thus well qualified from actual observation to sing the paean of the Greeks, which, seven years afterwards, he celebrated accordingly in the drama of the Persians. This was the first piece of the trilogy which gained the prize, and the only one still extant; the other two were named Phineus and Glaucus. The drama of the Persians preserves a faithful record, and presents a living picture of the sea-fight of rocky Salamis, to which the battle of Plataea was the final and conclusive supplement. Greece had no longer aught to fear

* Herod. Erato.

from Eastern invasions. From that time forward, the Persian princes never dared to cross the Hellespont with a hostile armament.

Late in life, vEschylus retired into Sicily, to the court of Hiero, king of Syracuse, who in his latter days hecame the munificent patron of learning and genius, and whom Pindar has celebrated as victor in the Olympic games, where he had gained three several crowns. The motives which influenced JEschylus to depart from Athens are little known. By some he is said to have repaired to Sicily on account of Sophocles having gained the victory in tragedy, by others, because he was surpassed by Simonides in an elegy on those who fell in Marathon; while a third part assign a charge of profanation, contained in an allusion to the Eleusinian mysteries, and from which he narrowly escaped with his life, as the cause of this voluntary exile. While in Sicily, he composed a tragedy entitled jEtna, predicting prosperity to the inhabitants of that city, which had been recently founded by Hiero. It is supposed that it was on the death of this prince he fixed his residence at Gela, on the south-west coast of Sicily, where he died. Some think that it was here also he composed the Orestean trilogy, which is presented to the reader first in the present volume, and which gained the prize, B.C. 458.

The singular story of the poet's death, which happened B.c. 456, in the sixty-ninth year of his age, is sufficiently known, whatever may be the opinion as to its truth. It had been foretold that he was not to die until a house should fall on him. Being, like Horace, a bald old man, who loved to sit in the sun, he wandered forth one summer's morning into the fields, and sat him down to meditate and compose. He uncovered his head to bathe his temples freely in the balmy air, when a towering eagle soared with a tortoise in his bill exactly over the spot in which the bard sat silent and motionless, enjoying the sunshine and the breeze, and the freshness of nature. The bird of Jove, mistaking the bald head of the old man for a round white stone, let fall his prey to break its shell upon that hard substance. The tortoise dropped plumb from the zenith, and a fractured skull was the unfortunate result to the father of Tragedy; for so the Athenians justly styled our poet.

An elegiac quatrain written by himself, and which only records that "there lay jEschylus of Athens, son of Euphorion, who died in fertile Gela, and whose prowess the long-haired Mede experienced on the illustrious field of Marathon," was the epitaph engraven on his tomb.


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