""A world of wealth is trash if men are wanting"
As Charles Isherwood noted in The New York Times, "the ruler of a rich and powerful empire leads his countrymen into a disastrous war on foreign soil in "The Persians," a play Aeschylus wrote in the fifth century B.C. It seems the guy was acting on advice from bad counselors. And trying to finish some business started by papa, who ruled before him. Ring any bells?"
Towering over the rest of Greek tragedy, The Persians, Aeschylus' earliest surviving tragedy, is one of the most enduring dramas ever written, and quickly becomes a tragic lesson in tyranny.
It depicts the final defeat of Persia in the battle of Salamis, through the eyes of the Persian court of King Xerxes,
Not only is it the earliest existing play in the Western convention, it is taken directly from the playwright's own experiences at the battle of Salamis, making it the only account of the Persian Wars composed by a participant.
As pure tragedy, it is a masterwork. Aeschylus tells the story of the war from the Persian point of view, and his satisfaction in the great victory of Greeks is tempered with a genuine compassion for Xerxes and his vanquished nation.
AESCHYLUS (525-456 BC) is one of three ancient Greek tragedians (along with Sophocles and Euripides) whose plays have survived down through the centuries. Although he is said to have written over seventy plays, only a few have survived.
He was the playwright who first made Athenian tragedy one of the world's great art forms, although in his epitaph he preferred he should be remembered as one of those who fought the Persians at Marathon.
His most famous plays include Seven Against Thebes, The Suppliants, The Oresteia, Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides, and Prometheus Bound.