The Persians

The Context of Aeschylus' Original Production, and the Effect on the Structure and Message of 'The Persians' 12th Grade

Aeschylus was writing his tragedy ‘The Persians’ in a period of peace following a particularly violent series of wars between Greek and Persian forces (499-449) which eventually ended in Greek victory, as the Persian fleet was defeated in the straits of Salamis, and this can explain the playwright’s primary focus on historical events throughout his play, which is clearly influenced by historical context. Whilst the context surrounding the original production as aimed at winning a literary competition in a festival dedicated to Dionysus can be seen to shape the structure of events in the plot, it is the historical context of the Persian Wars that ultimately guide the overall messages of the play, which are hyperbolised due to the play’s status as a tragedy.

Aeschylus’ ‘The Persians’ was crafted with the aim to win the annual tragedy-writing contest at the Dionysia festival, and this context can be seen to affect the play’s message and playwright’s motives, which seem to be to dazzle audience members and judges alike in order to place in the competition. This is immediately made evident through the mass prostration of the chorus at the play’s opening hymn, as they sing of the glory of Persian soldiers. Indeed, we can understand...

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