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Aeschylus (525—456 bc) Greek dramatist

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The name of two tragic poets of the 4th cent.bc, father and son. The father was the son of Morsimus, son of Aeschylus' nephew Philocles. It appears that some of the information attached to the father in our sources properly belongs to the son. In that case all we know of the father is that he produced his first play in 398 and lived to be 60 (Diog. Laert. 4. 43. 5); and it was the son who was said to have been a pupil of Isocrates before turning to tragedy, to have written 240 tragedies (but the number can hardly be right), and to have won fifteen victories.

The younger Astydamas was one of the most successful poets of his day. He won his first victory in 372, and others are recorded in inscriptions. After the success of his Parthenopaeus (340) the Athenians honoured him with a statue in the theatre (part of the base survives), but he was not allowed to inscribe on it the conceited epigram which made him a byword for vanity (D. L. Page, Further Greek Epigrams (1990), 33–4). Aristotle (Poet. 14) tells us that his Alcmaeon made the hero kill his mother unwittingly (when the usual version makes him do so deliberately). An especially famous play was the Hector, based on parts of Homer's Iliad: it is believed to be depicted on an Apulian vase and attested in three papyri, and Plutarch speaks of it (De glor. Ath. 7) in the same breath as Aeschylus and Sophocles.

Andrew L. Brown

Subjects: Classical studies

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