The Ancient Library

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On this page: Aesculapius – Aeson – Aesopus



against Thebes, part of a Tetralogy, em­bracing the cycle of Theban legend, of which LcCius and CEdtpus formed the first two pieces, and the satyrie drama Sphinx the conclusion. (3) The Suppliants, the re­ception of Danaus and his daughters at Argos, evidently part of another Tetralogy, and, to judge by the simple plot and its old-fashioned treatment, one of his earliest works. (4) Prometheus Bound, part of a Trilogy, the Prometheia, whose first and last pieces were probably Prometheus the Fire-bringer and Prometheus Unbound. Lastly, the Oresteia, the one Trilogy which has survived, consisting of the three tragedies, (5) Agamemnon, the murder of

* jESCHYLUS. (Rome, Capitoline Museum.)

that hero on his return home; (6) The Choephoro?, named from the chorus of captive Trojan women offering libations at Agamemnon's tomb, in which Orestes avenges himself on jEgisthus and Clytsem-nestra; and (7) The Eiimentdes, in which Orestes, pursued by the Furies, is acquitted by the Areopagus at Athens. This Trilogy, composed B.C. 458, and probably the last work exhibited by ^Eschylus at Athens, gives us an idea of the whole artistic con­ception of the poet, and must be looked upon as one of the greatest works of art ever produced. The style is marked by sub­limity and majesty, qualities partly attri-butableto the courageousandserionstemper of the time, but chiefly the offspring of the

poet's individuality, which took delight in all that is great and grand, and loved to express itself in strong, sonorous words, an accumulation of epithets, and a profusion of bold metaphors and similes. His view of the universe reveals a profoundly philo­sophic mind, so that the ancients call him a Pythagorean ; at the same time he is pene­trated by a heartfelt piety, which conceives of the gods as powers working in the interest of morality. However simple the plot of his plays, they display an art finished to the minutest detail. His Trilogies either embraced one complete cycle of myths, or united separate legends according to their moral or mythical affinity; even the satyric dramas attached to the Tragedies stand in intimate connexion with them. jEschylus is the true creator of Tragedy, inasmuch as, by adding a second actor to the first, he originated the genuine dramatic dialogue, which he made the chief part of the play by gradually cutting down the lyrical or choral parts. Scenic apparatus he partly created and partly completed. He intro­duced masks for the players, and by gay and richly embroidered trailing garments, the high buskin, head-dresses, and other means, gave them a grand imposing aspect, above that of common men ; and he fitted up the stage with decorative painting and machinery. According to the custom of the time, he acted in his own plays, practised the chorus in their songs and dances, and himself invented new dance figures.

JEsculapiua. See asolefius.

JEson, son of Cretheus by Tyro (see jEoujs, 1), king of lolcos in Thessaly, was de­posed by his half-brother Fellas, and killed while his son Jason was away on the Argo-nautic Expedition. (Comp. argonauts.)

.ffisopus (Gr. Aisdpos). The fame us writer of fables, the first author who created an independent class of stories about animals, so that in a few generations his name and person had become typical of that entire class of literature. In course of time, thanks to his plain, popular manner, the story of his own life was enveloped in an almost inextricable tissue of tales and traditions, which represent him as an ugly hunchback and buffoon. In the Middle Ages these were woven into a kind of romance. A Phrygian by birth, and living in the time of the Seven Sages, about 600 B.C., he is said to have been at first a slave to several masters, till ladmon of Samos set him free. That he next lived at the court of Croesus, and being sent by him on an

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