Aeschylus (c.525–c.456 BC), translated by Theodoridis, G., (contributor-contact-email)

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Aeschylus’ The Persians, written in 472 BC, dramatises the historical defeat of the Persian Empire at the hands of the Greeks, particularly focusing on the Battle of Salamis. Set in Susa, which at that time was one of the capitals of the Persian Empire, the play opens with a chorus of elderly Susans and Queen Mother Atossa, who anxiously await news of King Xerxes’ campaign against Greece.

The narrative gathers pace with the arrival of a messenger who vividly recounts the Persian loss at Salamis, including the death of Persian generals and Xerxes’ escape. Following this, Atossa, at the tomb of her late husband Darius, summons his ghost, who criticizes Xerxes’ arrogance and the hubris of his decision to bridge the Hellespont. Darius foretells the further Persian defeat at Plataea. The play concludes with Xerxes’ return in despair, wearing torn clothes, symbolizing the completeness of the Persian defeat. The interaction between Xerxes and the chorus portrays the magnitude of the loss, reflecting on themes of personal conceit, divine retribution, and the downfall of empires.

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Theodoridis, G.,

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