Aeschylus (EoH)

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Aeschylus (525/524-456 B.c.)

First of the great Attic tragedians. Aeschylus fought against the Persians at Marathon and probably Salamis. Profoundly religious and patriotic, he produced, according to one catalogue, 72 titles, but ten others are mentioned elsewhere. He was the one who first added a second actor to speak against the chorus. Of his seven surviving tragedies, none is pederastic. His lost Myrmidons, however, described in lascivious terms the physical love of Achilles forPatroclusl thighs, altering the age relationship given in Homer's Iliad-where Patroclus is a few years the older, but as they grew up together, they were essentially agemateeto suggest that Achillesw as the lover (erastes)o f Patroclus. Plato had Phaedrus point out the confusion, and argue that Patroclus must have been the older and therefore the lover, while the beautiful Achilles was his beloved (Symposium, 180a).

Among Attic tragedians Aeschylus was followed by Sophocles, Euripides, and Agathon. Sophocles (496-406 B.c.), who first bested Aeschylus in 468 and added a third actor, wrote 123 tragedies of which seven survive, all from later than 440. At least four of his tragedies were pederastic. Euripides (480-406 B.c.) wrote 75 tragedies of which nineteen survive, and thelost Chrysippus, and probably some others as well, were pederastic. Euripides loved the beautiful but effeminate tragedian Agathon until Agathon was forty. The latter, who won his first victory in 416, was the first to reduce the chorus to a mere interlude, but none of his works survive.

All four of the greatest tragedians wrote pederastic plays but none survive, possibly because of Christian homophobia. The tragedians seem to have shared thepederastic enthusiasm of the lyric poets andof Pindar, thoughmany of theirmythical and historical source-themes antedated the formal institutionalization of paiderasteia in Greece toward the beginning of the sixth century before our era.

William A. Percy

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