The Persians

The Persians Analysis

It is precisely known that the tragedy of Aeschylus "Persians" was first staged on the stage in 472 BC and included in the tetralogy, which has not reached us and about which only vague guesses are possible.

Aeschylus depicts in this drama the state of Persia immediately after the defeat of Xerxes from Salamis. In the Persian capital Susa, the choir of elders is worried about gloomy forebodings due to the long absence of Xerxes, who went to war with Greece. This depressed state is aggravated by the arrival of Xerxes' mother, Athossa, who tells the choir about the bad dream she has seen and is also worried about her terrible forebodings. And indeed, immediately there is a herald with a detailed account of the death of the Persian fleet at Salamis and of the terrible losses incurred by the Persian army, which causes groans and tears in the choir and Atossa.

The historical basis of the tragedy are the famous Greco-Persian wars, of which Aeschylus himself was a participant. With the exception of individual and minor inaccuracies, the "Persians" give a correct picture of the state of both struggling sides and are to a large extent the primary source for the history of this period of Greece. But Aeschylus did not want to be a dispassionate spectator of these great events, they were deeply experienced by him before, just like the Greek people.

First of all, here we have a hot patriotism. This patriotism is justified by Aeschylus with a special philosophy of history, according to which dominion in Asia and Greeks in Europe was destined for God himself and the Persians. The Persians had no right to cross the borders of Asia; and if they crossed, it was their tragic audacity (hubris), dark and criminal, and the Greeks defended their independence through their wise "sophistication", the light and noble.

The opposition of Greece and Persia is aggravated from Aeschylus by the opposition of free people who freely builds their destiny, and of the Oriental people lying prostrate before the despot and servilely fulfilling the will of this latter, all his criminal intentions. Aeschylus does not limit himself to general and patriotic ideas in the Persians. In the struggle of the democrat and the proponent of the sea expansion of Themistocles with the leader of the agrarians who preferred land war, Aristide Aeschylus undoubtedly supported the latter. This explains, for example, the fact that the "Persians" put forward an overland operation in the Psittalee under the leadership of Aristide.

The completed idea of ​​the "Persians", embodying the grandiose philosophical and historical concept of the East and the West, is given in the Aeschylus tragedy in an unusually original way: not by a direct description of the Greek victory, but by portraying the suffering and horror of the Persians about their defeat.

This frenetic style of the "Persians" also sharpens their main idea in the sense that Aeschylus here not only glorifies the victory of the Greeks over the Persians who have already suffered enough punishment for their aggression, but also preaches the need to stop further persecution of the Persians. This corresponded more to the policy of Aristide than Themistocles.

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