Aeschylus is the first Greek tragic playwright whose whole works have survived. He was a prominent Athenian politician and diplomat who was known for his powerful speeches before assembly elections.
His plays include seven that are still performed today: Seven Against Thebes, The Suppliant Women, The Eumenides (The Orestes), Prometheus Bound, Agamemnon, The Libation-Bearers. His other major work is a four-book epic poem on the Trojan War called the Iliad.
Sophocles was another important Greek dramatist of the fifth century BC. Like Aeschylus, he was a prominent political figure in Athens, but unlike him he was only a poet. He is best known for his dramatic works which include five plays still performed today: Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Electra, Philoctetes, Oedipus At Colonus.
Euripides was a third famous Greek tragedian of the fifth century BC. He too was a prominent Athenian politician and diplomat, but unlike Aeschylus and Sophocles he was also a dramatist and musician.
Aeschylus (born 525/524 bc—died 456/455 bc, Gela, Sicily), the first of classical Athens' great dramatists, who elevated the burgeoning art of tragedy to new heights of poetry and dramatic grandeur. His early life is unknown, but tradition holds that he was born in Gela, on Sicily's south coast, where his father had been sent to succeed as king after killing an uncle. Aeschylus may have begun writing tragedies while still a young man, for several of his plays were probably produced during the years when he was already famous as a poet.
He is said to have studied under the legendary Euripides, whose own career as a tragedian began around 480 BC. It is possible that it was only after both men had become established writers that they formally adopted each other as students. Whatever the case, it seems clear that they collaborated on at least two plays: _The Persians_, which may have been completed by either writer, and _The Suppliant Women_, which certainly was written by Aeschylus. Whether any other works shared between them have survived is doubtful; according to one tradition, their collaboration ended in feud over credit for a third play, _The Eumenides_ (the Goddesses). Aeschylus is believed to have won this conflict by writing another trilogy (of which only fragments remain) called _Prometheus Bound_.
The Ancient Greeks are the oldest playwrights in Western literature whose works have survived. These early plays were written for yearly Athenian playwright competitions conducted about the 5th century BC. Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes developed forms that are still used by their modern successors.
After the fall of Athens, drama seemed to disappear from history for nearly two thousand years. It was not until the 3rd century AD that Roman actors began to perform comedies and tragedies again. Even then, ancient authors claim that only Aeschylus' work had any real success with the audience.
But despite this apparent decline, drama was being written about this time in many different cultures across Asia and Europe. Novellae (short stories) and dramas were appearing almost everywhere from Syria to Scotland, and even in North America. This shows that this was not a time when anyone was neglecting drama; instead, it seems people were just writing about other things or using other media to express themselves.
Drama as we know it today is thought to have begun in Greece around 5000 years ago. But since no one really knows how old most plays from that time are, it is possible that some earlier works have been lost forever.
From the late sixth century BCE, Greek tragedy was a popular and important style of play performed in theaters across ancient Greece. Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides were the genre's most famous playwrights, and many of their works were still performed centuries after their first debut. The plays of these three writers have survived almost entirely intact, and are some of the most influential works in all of theater history.
Greek tragedy is known for its violent scenes and highly stylized language. It developed out of older traditions dating back to at least 7th-century BCE Athens when poets began writing performances that included dialogue as well as music and dance. These early tragedies were mainly satires on contemporary politicians or myths from which modern audiences might conclude that many public figures of the time were evil or foolish.
Over time the form became more philosophical and psychological as opposed to political. Writers like Aeschylus explored the depths of human emotion with tragic heroes who made poor decisions but believed they were doing what was right at the time.
Euripides wrote earlier than Aeschylus or Sophocles and is therefore considered the father of classical drama. His work focuses more on politics than on philosophy or psychology, but it is still regarded as an important influence on later writers including Shakespeare.
Sophocles is thought to have written about 300 plays.