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Thread: Aeschylus' Epitaph

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Aeschylus' Epitaph

    Aeschylus, the great playwright, fought at Marathon (and probably Salamis). Although he is honored 2500 years later for his literary talents, there is no mention of them on his tombstone, which reads:

    "Aeschylus, the Athenian, Euphorion's son, is dead. This tomb in Gela's cornlands covers him. His glorious valour the hallowed field of Marathon could tell, and the longhaired Persians had knowledge of it."

    Personally, I wouldn't have messed with the guy.

    Also, isn't corn from the Western Hemisphere? What crop were they referring to?

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    Hardly suppressing that fighting and saving your civilization and way of life and every man and woman and child of your city from slavery and death is more worthy of note than a couple of plays he wrote.

    The Greeks were kind of big on the whole valuing the men who fight and die for their homes thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Aeschylus, the great playwright, fought at Marathon (and probably Salamis). Although he is honored 2500 years later for his literary talents, there is no mention of them on his tombstone, which reads:

    "Aeschylus, the Athenian, Euphorion's son, is dead. This tomb in Gela's cornlands covers him. His glorious valour the hallowed field of Marathon could tell, and the longhaired Persians had knowledge of it."

    Personally, I wouldn't have messed with the guy.

    Also, isn't corn from the Western Hemisphere? What crop were they referring to?
    "corn" in the ancient world meant "any cereal." It was not just "maize" as it is today. "Maize" is the name as it is known today. Thus "maize corn" is what you are probably thinking.

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    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post

    Also, isn't corn from the Western Hemisphere? What crop were they referring to?
    "Corn" was only applied to "maize" within the last few hundred years, and "corn" is still a general term for grain in most of the world.

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Thanks for the "corn" explanation. Also, yes, saving yourself, your family, and everyone you knew from slavery or death was probably more important to you than writng plays. It might even have been more important to us.

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    Absinthe minded bIGwIRE's Avatar
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    Also, not everyone was enamoured with his plays. According to Aristotle, through some of his plays, Aeschylus may have revealed some inner secrets of the Eleusinian cult he was a member of. This secretive cult had many members throughout Greece, and revealing any secrets meant death, or at least an attempt on ones life. Some sources claim Aeschylus had to flee from mobs wanting to stone him after one of his plays opened.

    Also, tombstones, epitaphs, and such, are usually written, or at least approved by family of the deceased. Aeschylus' two brothers also fought at Marathon, Salamis, and probably Plataea, with at least one of his brothers, Ameinias, suffering some greivous injuries. The importance of those events in the family, and his country, likely overshadowed the importance of his work in poetry and play writing.

    Under both of these lights, and what Alex said about the Greeks and their appreciation for the warrior culture, his epitaph makes perfect sense.

    I love his work. He has something infused into his plays that only comes from the poet / soldier combination.

    For grievous war these arms don't ask,
    No armor, save this joyous flask

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Most of what needs to be said has been said. Of the three great Greek tragedians that survive today (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides) - the first two were more renowned for their military and political work than their plays. They were certainly honoured playwrights (such is in part why more of their works survive than the lesser known or unknown tragedians), but mostly posthumously so.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Registered User prendrelemick's Avatar
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    Just finished "The Persians" by Aeschylus which is now put into better context for me after reading this thread. I remember reading somewhere that he wrote his own epitaph, which shows how significant Marathon was for the Athenians
    ay up

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    ^Now that is a bad play. What is it? "Woe to the woeful who begets more woe" Admittedly reads better in ancient Greek, but very much not up to part with Prometheus or Orestes.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Registered User prendrelemick's Avatar
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    I know what you mean, its hardly a play at all, but it has weight - those "proclamations" were built to last.
    ay up

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    Brothers

    Quote Originally Posted by bIGwIRE View Post

    Also, tombstones, epitaphs, and such, are usually written, or at least approved by family of the deceased. Aeschylus' two brothers also fought at Marathon, Salamis, and probably Plataea, with at least one of his brothers, Ameinias, suffering some greivous injuries. The importance of those events in the family, and his country, likely overshadowed the importance of his work in poetry and play writing.
    Aeschylus brother Kynegeiros was killed in the Battle of Marathon. His youngest brother, Ameinias did not fight in Marathon but did fight in the Battle of Salamis.

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