Classical Texts Library >> Aeschylus, Fragments >> Fragments 1-56


Aeschylus, Agamemnon

AESCHYLUS was a Greek tragedian who flourished in Athens in the early C5th B.C. Of the 76 plays he is known to have written only seven survive--1. The Persians, 2. Seven Against Thebes, 3. Suppliant Women, 4 - 6. The Oresteia Trilogy (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers or Choephori and The Eumenides), 7. Prometheus Bound. The last of these, however, is usually attributed by modern scholars to an unknown playwright.

Aeschylus. Translated by Smyth, Herbert Weir. Loeb Classical Library Volumes 145 & 146. Cambridge, MA. Harvard Universrity Press. 1926.

The Aeschylus volumes are still in print and available new at Amazon.com. In addition to the translations the volume also contains the source Greek text, Smyth's footnotes and introduction, and an index of proper names.

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Seventy-three of the under-mentioned titles appear in the list of the dramas that is found in the Medicean manuscript.

1. Agamemnôn.
2. Athamas.
3. Aigyptioi.3
4. Aitnaiai (gnêsioi).4
5. Aitnaiai (nothoi).4
6. Alkmênê.1 3
7. Amymônê.
8. Argeioi or Argeiai.
9. Argô ê Kôpastês.5
10. Atalantê.
11. Bakchai.
12. Bassarai.
13. Glaukos pontios.6
14. Glaukos Potnieus.6
15. Danaïdes.
16. Diktyoulkoi.3
17. Dionysou trophoi (or Troiphoi).3 5
18. Eleusinioi.
19. Epigonoi.
20. Hepta epi Thêbas.
21. Eumenides.
22. Êdônoi.
23. Hêliades
24. Hêrakleidai.
25. Thalamopoioi.
26. Theôroi ê Isthmiastai.5
27. Thrêssai.
28. Hiereiai.1
29. Hiketides.
30. Ixiôn.
31. Iphigeneia.
32. Kabeiroi.
33. Kallistô.3
34. Kares ê Eurôpê.5
35. Kerkyôn.3
36. Kêrykes.
37. Kirkê.3
38. Krêssai.
39. [Kyknos.]1
40. Laïos.3
41. Leôn.
42. Lêmnioi or Lêmniai.2
43. Lykourgos.
44. Memnôn.
45. Myrmidones.
46. Mysoi.
47. Neaniskoi.
48. Nemea.3
49. Nêreïdes.
50. Niobê.
51. Xantriai.
52. Oidipous.
53. Hoplôn krisis.
54. Ostologoi.
55. Palamêdês.1
56. Pentheus.
57. Perrhaibides.
58. Persai.
59. Pênelopê.
60. Polydektês.2
61. Promêtheus desmôtês.6
62. Promêtheus lyomenos.6
63. Promêtheus pyrkaeus.1 6
64. Promêtheus pyrphoros.6
65. Propompoi.3
66. Prôteus.
67. Salaminiai.
68. Semelê ê Hydrophoroi.3 5
69. Sisyphos drapetês.4 6
70. Sisyphos petrokylistês.4 6
71. Sphinx.
72. Têlephos.
73. Toxotides.
74. Hypsipylê.3
75. Philoktêtês.
76. Phineus.1
77. Phorkides.
78. Phryges ê Hektoros lytra.5
79. Phrygioi.2
80. Choêphoroi.
81. Psychagôgoi.
82. Psychostasia.3
83. Ôreithyia.1

1. Not mentioned in the Katalogos tôn Aischulou dramatôn.
2. No identified fragment is extant.
3. No identified fragment forming an entire verse is extant.
4. The two plays of this name are not to be distinguished in the extant fragments.
5. Alternative titles are due to Alexandrian scholars whose explanatory designations sought to avoid confusion between dramas of the same name. Where such alternative titles occur, that denoting the Chorus is presumably older than that denoting a principal personage or the subject matter of the play.
6. The descriptive epithet added after a title may be due to Alexandrian scholars, who sought thereby to distinguish dramas of the same name.

Satyric plays attested: Kerkuôn, Kêrukes, Kirkê, Leôn, Lukourgos, Promêtheus (purkaeus), Prôteus, Sphinx.
Possibly satiric are: Amumônê, Glaukos pontios, Kallistô, Kabeiroi, Xantriai, Sisuphos drapetês, Phorkides.

Tetralogies attested:
1. (472 B.C.) Phineus, Persai, Glaukos (Potnieus), Promêtheus (purkaeus).
2. (467 B.C.) Laïos, Oidipous, Epta epi Thêbas, Sphinx.
3. Lukourgeia: êdônoi, Bassarai, Neaniskoi, Lukourgos.
4. Oresteia (458 B.C.): Agamemnôn, Choêphoroi, Eumenides, Prôteus.

By reason of the myth or of other indication of connexion between their several members, the following groups may be assumed with some probability. (The order within the group is often uncertain.)

Iketides, Aiguptioi, Danaïdes, Amumônê (satiric).
Psuchagôgoi, Ostrologoi, Pênelopê, Kirkê (satyric).
Promêtheus desmoôtes, Promêtheus luomenos, Promêtheus purphoros.
Hoplôn krisis, Thrêssai, Salaminiai.
Murmidones, Nêreïdes, Phruges ê Hektoros lutra.

Argô, Lêmnioi (Lêmniai ?), Hupsipulê, Kabeiroi (satyric ?).
Eleusinioi, Argeioi (Argeiai ?), Epigonoi.
Diktuolkoi, Poludektês, Phorkides.
Memnôn, Psuchostasia
Perraibides, Ixiôn.
Musoi, Têlephos.

Theban legends of Dionysus seem to have formed the subject of no less than five plays : Semelê ê Hudrophoroi, Dionusos trophoi (or Trophoi), Bakchai, Xantriai, Pentheus. The Argument to Euripides’ Bakchai asserts that the story of that drama had been handled in Pentheus.
To reduce the number of these Dionysus-plays to the compass of a trilogy or tetralogy, various expedients have been proposed:

1. To seek other connexions for Dionusos trophoi and assume a tetralogy consisting of Semelê ê Hudrophoroi, Bakchai, Pentheus, Xantriai (satiric).
2. To regard Bakchai as an alternative name for Pentheus, or for Xantriai (not satiric), or even for Bassarai.
3. To make Bakchai the title of the group Semelê ê Hudrophoroi, Pentheus, Xantriai.
4. To make Pentheus the name of the trilogy Semelê ^h Hudrophoroi, Bakchai, Xantriai.


Athamas, a hero localized in Boeotia and Thessaly, was the son of Aeolus according to the genealogy commonly adopted in antiquity. By his divine wife Nephele he had two children, Phrixus and Helle; by his second wife Ino, daughter of Cadmus, he had two sons, Learchus and Melicertes. Apollodorus, Library, iii. 4. 3 (cp. i. 9. 2) narrates that Zeus entrusted the newly-born Dionysus to Hermes, who conveyed him to Ino and Athamas, and persuaded them to rear the babe as a girl. In consequence of madness brought upon them by Hera in her indignation, Athamas hunted his elder son as a deer and killed him; Ino threw Melicertes into a boiling cauldron, and then, carrying it, together with the dead body of the child, leaped into the sea. The Argument to the first Isthmian Ode of Pindar reports a different version: that the corpse of Learchus was thrown into the cauldron of Ino, who then, having become mad, plunged into the sea. The Isthmian games were instituted by Sisyphus in honour of Melicertes.


Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, ii. 6. p. 37F; cp. vii. 100. p. 316B.

The one was cast into the three-legged cauldron of the house, that ever kept its place above the fire.


Etymologicum Florentium 116 (Miller); cp. Etymologicum Magnum 346. 56.

Taking out with bronze flesh-hooks


A Sicilian maiden named Thaleia or Aetna, having been embraced by Zeus, in fear of Hera’s wrath prayed that the earth might open and swallow her up. Her prayer was granted, but when the time of her delivery was at hand, the earth opened again and twin boys came forth, who were called Palïci, because they had “come back” (apo tou palin hikesthai) from the earth. The Palici were worshipped (originally with human sacrifices) in the neighbourhood of Mount Aetna (Macrobius, Saturnalia, v. 19. 17; cp. Servius on Virgil, Aeneid, ix. 584).
“Having arrived in Sicily, as Hiero was then (476 B.C.) founding the city of Aetna, Aeschylus exhibited his Aetnae as an augury of a prosperous life for those who were uniting in the settlement of the city” (Life of Aeschylus).
The play is named Aitnaiai, The Women of Aetna, in the Medicean Catalogue, and so apparently in Frag. 9 and Frag. 10 (Nauck). The title has the form Aitnai in the Life and Nauck’s 7 and 8; Aitna in Nauck’s 11, Aetna in Macrobius. Alexandrian scholars thought to distinguish a genuine from a spurious play of this name.


Macrobius, Saturnalia v. 19. 24.

A. What name, then, shall mortals put upon them?
B. Zeus commandeth that they be called the holy Palici.
A. And shall the name “Palici” abide as rightly given?
B. Aye, for they shall “come back” from darkness to this light.


“But the land of Argos being waterless, since Poseidon had dried up even the springs because of his anger at Inachus for testifying that it belonged to Hera, Danaüs sent his daughters to draw water. One of them, Amymone, as she was searching for water, threw a dart at a deer and hit a sleeping satyr. He, starting up, desired to force her; but Poseidon appearing on the scene, the satyr fled, and Amymone lay with Poseidon, and he revealed to her the springs at Lerna.” (Apollodorus, Library, ii. 1. 4). The play was probably satyric.


Ammonius, On Words of like Form but different Meaning 37 (Valckenaer), Bachmann, Anecdota Graeca, ii. 375. 8

It is thy fate to be my wife; mine to be thy husband.


Athenaeus, Deipnosophists xv. 41. p. 490C.

And for my part I [wish] thy nards and balsam too


In the Medicean Catalogue and the Etymologicum Magnum (see under Fragment 7) the play bears the title Argeioi, The Men of Argos. In the authors citing Fragment 6 and Nauck’s 18 (Hesychius, Lexicon 1. 257) the name is Argeiai, which suggests that the Chorus was formed of the mothers of the Argive commanders who fell in the attack on Thebes described in the extant play of Aeschylus. According to Welcker, the Eleusinioi anticipated the first, the Argeioi the second, part of Euripides’ Suppliants. M. Schmidt in Philologus, xvi. (1860) 161, conjectured that the drama was entitled Argeia from the daughter Adrastus who married Polynices, and who, in Statius’ Thebaid, was joined by Antigone in burying her father.
Fragment 155 has been assigned to this play.


Harpocration, Glossary of the Ten Attic Orators 306. 11.

Both darts and looped javelins and heaped missiles


Etymologicum Magnum 341. 5, Lexicon Sabbaïticum 21.

Capaneus is left me with the remains of his lightning-smitten limbs that the thunderbolt had left behind (?)

From a lament, probably by the Chorus, on the Argive chieftains who fell in the first attack on Thebes; or possibly by Evadne over the body of her husband Capaneus, of whose destruction, by the lightning of Zeus, Eteocles is confident in Seven against Thebes 444. In Euripides’ Suppliants the bodies of the other Argive champions were burned on a single funeral pyre, that of Capaneus was burned apart as a consecrated corpse; and upon his pyre his wife threw herself.


In the Medicean Catalogue the play is entitled Argô hê kôpastês (so M); in the Aldine edition, Argô ê kôpeustês. Referring the sub-title to the rowers of the Argo, Welcker proposes kôpeustai; Hippenstiel, De Graecorum tragicorum principum fabularum nominibus, kôpastai. Hartung, approved by Dieterich, read kômastai “revellers.”
See Fragments 164, 221.


Philo of Alexandria, On the Virtuous being also Free 20. 143 (Chon and Reiter vi. 41).

Where is Argo’s sacred speaking beam?

Apollodorus, Library i. 9. 16: “and at the prow (of the Argo) Athena fitted a speaking timber from the oak of Dodona.”


Fragment 215 has been referred to the Bacchae.


Stobaeus, Anthology i. 3. 26 (Wachsmuth i. 57), Theophilus, To Autolycus 2. 37. p. 178. The verses are ascribed to the Bakchai only in the margin of the Farnesianus of Stobaeus (aischulou kakchôn).

Truly upon mortals cometh swift of foot their evil and his offence upon him that trespasseth against Right.


Eratosthenes, Legends of the Constellations, 24. p. 140 (Robert), says of Orpheus that he paid no honour to Dionysus, but considered Helios to be the greatest of the gods and addressed him as Apollo; that, by making haste during the night, he reached at dawn the summit of Mt. Pangaeus, and waited there that he might see the rising of the sun; and that Dionysus, in his wrath, sent against him the Bassarides (as Aeschylus tells the story), who tore him to pieces and scattered his members, which were collected and buried by the Muses in Leibethra. To the same effect, Scholiast Germanicus, 84. 11.
The name Bassarai was given to Thracian (and to Phrygian and Lydian) bacchanals, who wore fox-skin caps and long embroidered cloaks, pictured in Miss Harrison’s Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, 458. The word bassara (possibly of Phrygian origin but carried elsewhere) means “fox.” Cp. Fragment 29.
The play is entitled Bassarides in the Scholiast on Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 135, and on Nicander, Theriaca 288.
To the Bassarae have been assigned Fragments 187. 215.


Hephaestion, Handbook of Metres 13. p. 43 (Consbruch) and Choeroboscus, Commentary p. 84. 3.

The bull was like to butt the goat with his horns . . .

Dionysus is the bull, the goat is Lycurgus, the king of the Edonians, who refused to adopt the worship of the god.


Scholiast on Nicander, Theriaca 288.

Old chips and sooty ashes on the altar


Scholiast (cod. Vaticanus Graecus 909) on Euripides, Rhesus 922.

For his gleaming torch doth flood with flashing light Pangaeus’ headland, silver-seamed.

Probably from the Messenger’s report to Dionysus concerning Orpheus ascent of the mountain to behold the rising sun.


Pausanias, Description of Greece ix. 22. 7: “At Antehodon by the sea is what is called `Glaucus’ Leap.’ That Glaucus was a fisherman, who, because he had eaten of a grass, was changed into a daimon of the sea and foretells men the future, is believed by people in general, and especially to seafaring men every year tell stories about his prophetic art. Pindar and Aeschylus learned from the Anthedonians concerning him, but wheras the former did not have much to do with the legends in his poems, the latter worked them into a play.” Plutarch, in his Life of Cicero 2, reports that there still existed in his timea short poet in tetrameters on Glaucus of the Sea written by the orator in his youth.
In Fragments 17-19 Glaucus describes his wanderings by sea. To the play, which was probably satyric, have been ascribed Fragments 203, 230, 231.


Phrynichus in Bekker, Anecdota Graeca 5. 21, Photius, Lexicon 140. 22 (Reitzenstein). The line is a metrical attempt by a grammarian interpreting a verse of Aeschylus, which Nauck would restore as anthrôpomorphon kêtos hudati ounnonon.

[A creature, like unto a man, living in the water]


Etymologicum Magnum 250. 4, Eustathius on Iliad 274. 24; cp. Pausanias, Description of Greece x. 4. 7.

Shaggy his moustache and his beard’s base


Bekker, Anecdota Graeca 347. 24, Photius, Lexicon 36. 12 (Reitzenstein).

He that ate the ever-living, imperishable grass

Ovid, Metamorphoses xiii. 930, relates that Glaucus was moved to eat of a certain grass because a fish that he had caught, on touching the same, regained life and sprang into the sea. The effect produced by the magic herb (according to the legend adopted by Nicander, Ther., Frag. 2) was that Glaucus became a god and leaped into the sea.


Bekker, Anecdota Graeca 347. 29, Photius, Lexicon 36. 16 (Reitzenstein).

And I taste, methinks, the ever-living grass.


Strabo, Geography x. 1. 9. p. 447

The bend at Euboïs about the headland of Cenaean Zeus, close to the tomb of wretched Lichas

Strabo says that Euboïs was a city which had been engulfed by an earthquake. The Cenaean promontory is situated at the end of the peninsula at the N.W. extremity of Euboea. Near by is a mountain (about 2800 feet high), on the top of which Zeus Cenaeus was worshipped. From the promontory, Lichas, the herald of Heracles, was hurled into the sea by his master because he had been the bearer of the poisoned robe sent by Deïaneira. Cp. Sophocles, Women of Trachis 237, 750.


Life of Aratus, Westernmann’s Lives of the Greeks 53. 26, from Petavius, Uranologia 269A (Paris, 1637).

And thereafter going out past Diad Athens

From Dion, a city on the promontory of Cenaeum, a settlement of Athenians was called Athenae Diades.


Scholiast on Pindar, Pythian 1. 79 (152).

Having washed my body in fair baths, I came to steep-banked Himeras.


Potniae was a city in Boeotia where Glaucus, the son of Sisyphus and Merope, kept mares that he had accustomed to feed on human flesh in order to make them charge against the enemy with greater eagerness and speed. When this food failed, they devoured their master at the funeral games in honour of Pelias (Asclepiades, On the Subjects of Tragedy in Probus on Virgil, Georgics iii. 267). According to the Scholiast on Euripides, Orestes 318, the horses had eaten a (poisonous) grass, whereby they became mad and tore Glaucus asunder. Strabo, Geography x. 409 omits any mention of the cause of madness, which other writers attribute, now to the water of a sacred spring near Potniae, now to the anger of Aphrodite (because Glaucus prevented his mares from mating in order to increase their speed), now to their human food.
In Fragment 20 the Chorus utter their good wishes on Glaucus’ departure for the games. In 21, 22, 23 the Messenger describes the contest, in which the title-hero was hurled from his chariot in the collision caused by the madness of the mares.
The Glaucus of Potniae was produced in 472 B.C. as the third member of the tetralogy Phineus, Persai, Glaukos (Potnieus according to a later Argument), Promêtheus (probably purkaeus).
See Fragments 88, 181, 184, 205.


Scholiast on Aristophanes, Frogs 1528.

“A prosperous journey!” is the first wish we pour forth from our lips.


Scholiast on Plato, p. 904 B 36 (Baiter-Orelli).

Not for laggards doth a contest wait.


Scholiast on Euripides, Women of Phoenicia 1194.

For chariot on chariot, corpse upon corpse, horse on horse, had been heaped in confusion.


Scholiasts BLTV on Il. N 198; cp. Eustathius on Il. 297. 39.

In their fury they dragged him aloft, even as two wolves bear off a fawn by its shoulders.


When marriage with their cousins, the sons of Aegyptus, had been forced upon the daughters of Danaüs, their father commanded each to kill her husband during the marriage-night. Hypermestra alone, swayed by the charm of love, disobeyed (cp. Prometheus Bound 865). Of her, Horace, Od. iii. 11. 33 ff., says una de multis face nuptiali digna periurum fuit in parentem splendide mendax et in omen virgo nobilis aevum.
To the Danaïds have been assigned Fragments 162, 163, 177, 206, 208, 231, 234, 238.


The fragment refers to the custom that, on the morning after the marriage, newly-wed couples were wakened by song (cp. Theocritus, Idyll xviii. 56). If the speaker was a servant (who was not privy to the intended murder), the verses may belong to a prologue, which was followed by the appearance of the Chorus of Danaïds; but, so far as we know, the “wakening” was sung by friends of the bride and bridegroom presumably the same as had, on the previous evening, sun the hymenaeus. If, as seems more probably, the speaker is Danaüs, he is describing what occurred either on the evening of the wedding or on the morning thereafter, before the discovery of the murder, and the lines form part of his defence before the court that tried him for his participation in the killing of his sons-in-law (Scholiast on Euripides, Orestes 872). The difficulty of interpretation is largely concerned with the application of the last five words of the text.
1. sun korois te kai korais is the stereotyped form of a wish that the marriage may be fruitful in children. These words were said to brides by the singers of the wedding-song according to the Scholiast on Pindar and Hesychius, Lexicon s.v. kourizmenoi.
Hermann holds to the MS. reading.

And then the radiant light of the sun is setting, while I call them forth, saying `let them make their bridegrooms graciously disposed, as is the custom, with boys and girls.’

On this interpretation, Danaüs describes how, after the brides had departed to their new home, he addressed their companions; but the situation is not clear, the meaning of egeirô is strained, and the explanation of nomoisi peculiar. Toup’s aneisi transfers the scene to the morning, as does Wiliamowitz eute . . . egeisê (“and when Dawn shall rouse the radiant light of the sun”); but the latter scholar can find in the following words no more definite idea than that certain persons are enjoined to make the young husbands (or the newly-wedded couples) friendly “with boys and girls.”
2. sun korais te kai korais means the companions of the speaker, who, with him, awakens the sleepers. So Welcker, reading aneisi and thelgôn:

And thereafter uprises the radiant light of the sun, while I, in company with youths and maidens, awaken the bridegrooms graciously disposed.

thelgôn is ironical; as is preumeneis, since Danaüs had married his daughter to suitors whom they, and he, detested, and whose murder he planned.
The situation is moving: when the waking-song was sung, the husbands – all save Lynceus, who was married to Hypermestra – were sleeping the sleep of death. But the scene, because reported, is less dramatic than that in Euripides’ Phaëthon, in which play (Frag. 781) Merops appears with a chorus of maidens who sing the nuptial song in honour of Phaëthon at the very moment when Phaëthon’s corpse is being carried into the chamber of Clymene, the wife of Merops. In Wilhelm Tell the music of a wedding-procession is heard while Gessler is in the agonies of death.


Athenaeus, Deipnosophists xiii. 73. p. 600B; Eustathius on Iliad 978. 25 (omitting ll. 6-7), misled the reference to Aeschylus of Alexandria in Athen. 599E, ascribed ll. 1-5 to that poet.

The holy heaven yearns to wound the earth, and yearning layeth hold on the earth to join in wedlock; the rain, fallen from the amorous heaven, impregnates the earth, and it bringeth forth for mankind the food of flocks and herds and Demeter’s gifts; and from that moist marriage-rite the woods put on their bloom. Of all these things I am the cause.

These lines – the Bridal of Heaven and Earth, imitated by Euripides, Fragment 898 – were spoken, says Athenaeus, by Aphrodite herself; and probably in defence of Hypermestra at her trial for disobedience to her father’s command. Cp. Lucretius i. 250 (imbres) pater aether in gremium matris terrain praecipitavit, and Virgil, Georg. ii. 235.


Plutarch in his Life of Theseus 29, states that Theseus, in conjunction with Adrastus, effected the recovery of the bodies of the Argives slain before Thebes (in the expedition against that city undertaken by the seven champions); that Aeschylus made the recovery the result of persuasion on the part of Theseus, whereas Euripides, in his Suppliants, ascribed it to a victory over the Argives; and that Theseus appeared in Aeschylus’ play, and out of kindness to Adrastus caused the leaders to be buried at Eleusis, the soldiery at Eleutherae, where their tombs were still shown in his day.
To The Men of Eleusis have been assigned Fragments 178, 199, 200, 214, 215, 241


Didymus, Commentary on Demosthenes’ Philippic xii (xiii) in Berliner Papyrus 978- (Berliner Klassikertexte i. (1904) 66).

The matter pressed, rotting already was the corpse.


Ten years after the unsuccessful attack on Thebes described in The Seven against Thebes, the son of the fallen chieftains, called the After-Born, avenged the death of their fathers in a second expedition, which resulted in the capture of the city. At the end of Euripides’ Suppliants (l. 1213) Athena prophesies the success of the sons in the war that formed the theme of the Aeschylean drama. The legend of the victorious issue of the second expedition is known to the Iliad in which (D 406) Sthenelus, the son of Capaneus, boasts the superiority of the sons over their fathers. But the tradition that the seven champions had each a son (named in Apollodorus, Library iii. 7. 2) who joined in the war, is apparently later than Homer. In The Seven against Thebes, Aeschylus made both Eteocles and Polynices die childless; but Pindar knew of Thersander, the son of Polynices and successor to his claim to the throne; and late writers report that Laodamas was the son of Eteocles.
Fragments 176, 247, 248 have been referred to The Epigoni.


Scholiast on Pindar, Isthmian 6. 10 (7).

First, libations to Zeus and Hera for timely marriage
The second cup of mixed wine I serve to the Heroes
Third, a libation for blessing to Zeus, the Saviour.


Apollodorus, Library iii. 5. 1, gives the following version of the legend of Lycurgus and his rejection of the god Dionysus:
“And afterwards he (Dionysus) arrived at Cybela in Phrygia, and there, having been purified by Rhea, and learning the rites of initiation, he received from her the costume, and hastened through Thrace [against the Indians]. But Lycurgus, king of the Edonians, who dwell beside the river Strymon, was the first to insult and expel him. And Dionysus took refuge in the sea with Thetis, the daughter of Nereus, and the Bacchanals were taken captive and the multitude of the satyrs that followed him. But afterwards the Bacchanals were suddenly released, and Dionysus brought madness upon Lycurgus. And he, in his frenzy, struck with an axe and killed his son Dryas, imagining that he was lopping off the branch of a vine; and when he had cut off his son’s extremities, he came to his senses. But since the land remained barren, the god made known by an oracle that it would bear fruit if Lycurgus were put to death. On hearing this, the Edonians took him to Mt. Pangaeus, and bound him; and there, by the will of Dionysus, he died, destroyed by horses.”
Fragment 27 refers to the arrival of Dionysus and his worshippers, 28 to the house of Lycurgus; to whom, or to one of his attendants, belong the satirical descriptions of the god in 29-32.
To The Edonians have been ascribed Fragments 173, 188, 193, 201, 202.


Strabo, Geography x. 3. 16. p. 470 (l. 6 Athenaeus, Deipnosophists xi. 57. p. 479B, Scholiast BT on Iliad PS 34).

Practising the holy rites of Cotyto . . . One, holding in his hands the pipe, the labour of the lathe, blows forth his fingered tune, even the sound that wakes to frenzy. Another, with brass-bound cymbals, raises a clang . . . the twang shrills; the unseen, unknown, bull-voiced mimes in answer bellow fearfully, while the timbrel’s echo, like that of subterranean thunder, rolls along inspiring a mighty terror.

From the parodus of the play. In ll. 2-11 the Chorus of Edonians describes what Milton calls “the barbarous dissonance of Bacchus and his revellers.” Cotys, Cotyto, or Cotytto, was a Thracian goddess, akin to Rhea-Cybele, whose worship became popular in Athens. Her rites resembled those of the Phrygian Sabazius, whose ritual was similar to that of Bacchus. The Orphic ceremonies had their origin among the Thracians.


Pseudo-Longinus, On the Sublime 15. 6.

Lo, the house is frenzied with the god, the roof revels, Bacchant-like.


Etymologicum Florentinum 62 (Miller), Lexicon Sabbaïticum 5.

One who wears Lydian tunics and fox-skin cloaks reaching to the feet

Dionysus is described as wearing Lydian garments, which were famous for their luxuriousness.


Scholiast on Aristophanes, Birds 276, Suidas, Lexicon s.v. mousomantis

Who in the world is this poet-prophet, speechless . . .

Bothe read habros, asthenês “daintly, weakling”; Hermann amalos abrofatês sthenei “soft, a dainty stepper in his strength.”


Scholiast on Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 135.

Whence hails this woman-man? What’s his country? What’s his attire?


Scholiast B on Iliad I 539; cp. Eustathius on Iliad 772. 53.

Long-legged indeed! Was he not a chlounês?

The sense of chlounês is here obscure. In Iliad I 539 the word was explained by the ancients as meaning “entire” (not castrated) or “couching in the grass”; elsewhere, as “rascal,” “thief,” or “clothes-stealer.” Herman thought it was a designation of a locust. See Wiliammowitz, Aischylos: Interpretationen p. 217.


The Daughters of Helios dealt with the legend of Phaëthon, whose rashness in diving the chariot of the Sun, his father, caused the parching of the earth, and thereby his punishment at the hands of Zeus, whose thunderbolt hurled him into the river Eridanus. In pity for the unceasing grief of Phaëthon’s sisters, Zeus turned them into poplars, from which, it was believed, their tears oozed forth and became amber, the stone of light; a poetic fancy due to the association of êlectron “amber” with êlectôr “the beaming sun.”
The form assumed by the myth in Aeschylus is unknown; but it is certain that Euripides in his Phaëthon differed widely from the older poet. Aeschylus was in part dependent on Hesiod for the story; but whereas Hesiod knew of seven daughters of Helios, Aeschylus recognized only three – Lampetië, Aegle, and Phaëthousa – children of the sun-god and Rhode. Furthermore he transferred to Iberia the scene of the fall of Phaëthon.
Fragments 172, 177, 185 have been ascribed to the play.


Athenaeus, Deipnosophists xi. 39. p. 469F.

Where, in the west, is the bowl wrought by Hephaestus, the bowl of thy sire, speeding wherein he crosseth the mighty, swelling stream that girdleth earth, fleeing the gloom of holy night of sable steeds.

To explain the rising of the sun in the east after it had set in the west, Greek fancy invented the myth that the Sun-god possessed a golden bowl, in which he, together with his steeds, was carried during the night across the ocean to the place of his rising. When Heracles was journeying to Erythea to capture the oxen of Geryon (Frag. 37), Helios lent his bowl to the hero; who, in Gerhard’s Auserlesene griechische Vasenbilder, pl. 109, is pictured sitting therein. In the Veda and in Germanic and Lettic myths the sun appears in the form of a golden bowl.


Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies v. 14. p. 718; cp. Philodemus, On Piety 22.

Zeus is air, Zeus is earth, Zeus is heaven, yea, Zeus is all things and whatsoever trancendeth them.


Bekker, Anecdota Graeca 346. 10.

And Adria’s daughters shall learn a (new) way of mourning.

Phaëthon was hurled into the Eridanus, which Aeschylus, according to Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxxvii. 31, placed in Iberia and identified with the Rhone, a river confused with the Po, on the banks of which was the city of Adria. Polybius, History ii. 16 and Plutarch, On the Delay of Divine Vengeance 12. p. 557, report that the inhabitants along the Eridanus wore black in mourning for Phaëthon. Knaack, Quaestiones Phaëthonteae 18, refers “the way of mourning” to the tears of amber from the poplars into which the maidens had been transformed.


Etymologicum Genuinum (cod. Vaticanus Graceus 1818) s.v. aphtonestaton; cp. Athenaeus, Deipnosophists x. 24. p. 424D, Eustathius on Iliad 746. 45, Lexicon Sabbaïticum 2.

Gushed from the spring a more abundant stream.


Of the personages, action, and scene of The Children of Heracles nothing is known. It is, however, probably that Aeschylus in part anticipated Euripides, who, in his same-named play, represented Athens as the refuge of the fugitives from the persecution of Eurystheus, the willingness of Macaria, the daughter of Heracles, to sacrifice her life as the price of victory over the Argive invaders of Attica, and the triumph of the children under the leadership of the aged Iolaüs, the nephew of Heracles.
The play is entitled Hêrakleidai, except in the Catalogue in the Medicean MS., which has Hêrakleidês.


Scholiast on Aristeides (cod. Marcianus 423).

Starting thence, when that he had crossed the ocean in a golden bowl, he drave the straight-horned kine from the uttermost parts of the earth, slew the evil herdsmen and their triple-bodied master, who wielded three spears in his (right) hands; in his left, extending three shields, and shaking his three crests, he advanced like unto Ares in his might.

A description of the tenth labour of Heracles – to fetch the kine of Geryon from the island of Erythea, near the ocean, now Cadiz. Geryon had the body of three men grown together and joined in one at the waist, but parted in three from the flanks and thighs (Apollodorus, Library ii. 5. 10). Cp. Agam. 870. For the golden bowl see under Fragment 33.


Stobaeus, Anthology iv. 54. 2 (Hense v. 1113).

For I shall not suffer any evil greater than this.


A play of this name is unknown in the Catalogue in the Medicean MS., and is mentioned only by Pollux, citing Fragment 39. Some suppose that it is an alternative title of the Aiguptioi, and that the name is derived from the carpenters who constructed the bridal chambers in which the Danaïds killed their husbands. Hartung proposed to read Thalamêtoloi “attendants of the bridal chambers.” Welcker rejected connexion with the Danaïd-myth and made the play precede the Iphigeneia and Hiereiai.
To the play have been referred Fragments 162, 163, 178, 189, 206, 238.


Pollux, Vocabulary 7. 122.

Come! Let some one work out in the ceiling a Lesbian moulding in triangular rhythms.

A ceiling-compartment was formed, at its lower part, by “ladders” (klimakides) laid across the “main beams” (selides). Below the former, in the present case, ran a moulding with swelling above and hollow below (a cyma reversa) and ornamented with a leaf-and-tongue pattern that approximates a triangle. The Lesbian cyma appears in the Tholos at Epidaurus.


The original title was probably Theôroi, The Spectators; to which was added that defining the scene: The Spectators at the Isthmian games.


Athenaeus, Deipnosophists xiv. 27. p. 629F.

And further these old skôpeumata

Athenaeus defines the form of the skôps-dance as a figure in which people are represented as looking at an object (aposkopountôn) by making an arch over their brows. He has, however, here confused skôps with skopos, which Hesychius, Lexicon 4. 216, describes as a dance in which the dancers shaded their eyes (cp. huposkopon chera, Aeschylus, Frag. 339 Nauck). The screech-owl dance (skôps) got its name, says Athenaeus ix. 45. p. 391A, from the variety of motion displayed by the bird.


The play derives its title from Thracian women, captives of Ajax, who formed the Chorus and had a like function with the sailors from Salamis in Sophocles’ Ajax: to support with their sympathy the hero who has suffered the ignominy of defeat at the hands of Achilles, and after his suicide to bewail his death. Though captives, they even dared to protest against the inhumanity to Menelaüs, who would refuse burial to the body of their master. In Sophocles’ play, Ajax killed himself on the stage and in solitude; in Aeschylus, his suicide was reported by a messenger, an eye-witness of the deed.
See Fragments 159, 194, 264.


Scholiast on Sophocles, Ajax 833. L. 1 restored by Hermann, 1. 2 (as 1. 1) by Hartung, 1. 3 by Sidgwick. The vial part was ta peri (or kata) tên maschalên according to the Scholiast on Sophocles and to Scholiasts TV on X 404 (cp. Ajax 834).

Back he bent his sword, as when a man bends a bow, for that his body offered no place to murderous death, until at last some goddess appeared and showed him [the vital spot].

The passage has reference to the legend that the body of Ajax, when a babe, having been wrapped by Heracles in his lion-skin, became invulnerable except the spot where Heracles’ quiver prevented the hide from touching it. According to Homer, Ajax was vulnerable, hence the legend was probably derived by Aeschylus from a Cyclic poet; and is certainly due to the desire to make Ajax equally invulnerable with Achilles. The sword with which Ajax slew himself had been given him by Hector.


The Priestesses was made by Welcker the third member of a trilogy, whose preceding parts were the Thalamopoioi and the Iphigeneia. By others it has been associated with the Musoi and Têlephos, or with the Têlephos and Iphigeneia. See Fragment 214.


Macrobius, Saturnalia v. 22. 13, Scholiast on Sophocles, Oedipus Coloneus 793.

Send with all speed; for these are the oracles that Father Zeus dost entrust unto Loxias.


Aristophanes, Frogs 1274, with Scholiast.

Hold your peace! The bee-keepers are at hand to open the house of Artemis.

From Iphigeneia according to Vater.
The Scholiast on Pindar, Pythian 4. 104 (60) says that “melissai is a term used primarily of the priestesses of Demeter, and by a misuse of language applied to all priestesses because of the purity of the animal.” Coins of the Ephesian Artemis as early as the sixth century, and a Vatican statue of the same goddess, show the bee as an emblem.


Ixion was famous in Greek tradition as the first man to shed kindred blood (Pindar, Pythian 2. 31, cp. Eumenides 718), and as the first to receive purification from the crime of murder. His father’s name is variously reported, usually as Phlegyas, but Aeschylus made him the son of Antion. His mother was Perimela, the daughter of Amythaon. Under promise of rich wedding-gifts to Eïnoeus (or Deïoneus), the father of Dia, he married her, and by her had a son, Peirithoüs. On his refusal to make over to his father-in-law the wedding-gifts due to him, Eïnoeus took Ixion’s horses as a pledge of payment; whereupon Ixion, pretending that he would submit himself to his good pleasure, sent for Eïoneus and caused him to fall into a fiery pit. For this offence he could obtain purification from neither man nor any god, until Zeus, showing himself a “gracious avenger” (Frag. 92 N.), took compassion on his suppliant, cleansed him of bloodshed, and even raised him to Olympus. There Ixion conceived a made passion for the Queen of Heaven, and having besought her to yield to his desires, Zeus fashioned a cloud in the semblance of Hera. Ixion lay with the cloud, and from this union sprang the centaurs. In punishment for this impious crime, Zeus bound him to a wheel on which he whirls in an eternity of torment. To the above effect, in the main, Diodorus of Sicily, Historical Library iv. 69. 3.
The play probably followed the Perrhaebides, which took its name from the Chorus of women of Perrhaebia in Thessaly, which district, or the city of Gyrton in the same, Ixion had subjected to his rule. The theme of the first play may have been the deception and murder of Eïoneus; that of the Ixion, the purification of the murderer. The third member of the trilogy is unknown.
Fragment 182 has been referred to the Ixion.


Stobaeus, Anthology iv. 53. 15 (Hense v. 1101), Munich Anthology 134 (cod. Augusanus-Monacensis 429).

Death hath a fairer fame than a life of toil.

Cp. Fragment 229 and Euripides, Women of Troy 637. ponêros, lit. “laborious,” may not yet have acquired the meaning “bad,” “evil.”


Athenaeus, Deipnosophists iv. 79. p. 182C.

But anon the long flute swallows up the half-holed.

Ixion’s lesser offence – the murder of his father-in-law – is obscured by the enormity of his crime against Hera and against Zeus.
hêmiopoi auloi were the same as those used by boys (paidikoi) and had higher tones than the teleioi. They were half as long as (perhaps) the huperteleioi, which had the lowest pitch, and may have had no more than four holes. See Howard, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology iv. (1898).


The theme of the play was probably the sacrifice of Iphigeneia at Aulis, to which place she was brought by her mother at the instance of Agamemnon, who alleged his intention of betrothing his daughter to Achilles. The subject may thus have anticipated Sophocles’ Iphigenia and Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis.
See Fragments 43, 130, 214.


Scholiast on Sophocles, Ajax 722.

Surely it befits not to be reviled by women. How should it?


This drama, which has its name from the Chorus, is the earliest literary witness to the Cabiri, more often called the Great Gods in Samothrace and Lemnos, the most ancient and famous seats of their worship in the Aegean. Originally pre-Hellenic chthonian divinities, who primal home was Phrygia, Phoenicia, or among the Pelasgians of Greece, their cult gradually accommodated itself to the religion of the peoples with which it came into contact; until in the historical period, the Cabiri appear as daimones who foster vegetative life and protect seafaring folk, and whose Mysteries in course of time spread over the greater part of the Greek world.
Athenaeus, Deipnosophists x. 33 p. 428F, declares that it was Aeschylus, not Euripides (in the Alcestis), who first introduced drunken people to the sight of the spectators of “tragedy”; and that this evil eminence was displayed in his Cabiri, in which play he represented Jason and his companions as drunk. Fragment 48 would seem to refer to the hospitable reception of the Argonauts by the Cabiri, who furnished them with an abundance of wine upon their landing at Lemnos, the first stopping-place of the Argo on its eastward voyage. The introduction of a drunken orgy has caused many scholars to regard the play as satyric rather than tragic. Whether pure tragedy may thus relax its gravity is a question that has been raised also in connexion with the Ostologoi of Aeschylus and the Sundeipnoi of Sophocles.
The Scholiast on Pindar, Pythian 4. 303 (171), states that the names of the heroes of the Argonautic expedition were set forth in the Kabeiroi, as also in the Lêmniai of Sophocles.
Fragment 164 has been referred to this play.


Athenaeus, Deipnosophists ix. 15. p. 373D.

But I take thee not as an omen of my journey.


Pollux, Vocabulary 10. 23; cp. Antiattacistes in Bekker, Anecdota Graeca 115. 3.

Jars neither of wine nor of water shall fail in the houses of the rich.


Plutarch, Table Talk ii. 1. 7. p. 632F.

We shall make he house to be scant of vinegar.

The Cabiri jestingly threaten to produce so excellent, or so abundant, a vintage that either the Argonauts will drink so much that no wine will be kept to make vinegar; or that vinegar shall be poured out from the casks to give place to wine. If oxous means “ordinary wine,” the meaning is that it will have to be thrown away for the better quality.


Europe, the protagonist in the drama bearing her name as an alternative title, in Fragment 50 tells of her carrying-off by the bull, of the three sons she bore to Zeus (Minos, Rhadamanthys, and Sarpedon), and of her anxiety as to the fate of her youngest, Sarpedon, whose warlike spirit has incited him to leave his home for Troy in order to render assistance to the city now attacked by the Achaeans.
The scene was Lycia, whither Europe had come from Crete together with her son. That the Chorus consisted of Carians, though Sarpedon was Prince of Lycia, may be due to the fact that (as Strabo, Geography xiv. 5. p. 675, informs us) the poets often included the Lycians among the Carians, who were the most famous of all the races in south-western Asia Minor. The confusion had the advantage of enabling the poet to reproduce the lamentations over the dead for which the Carians were celebrated.
Popular tradition was inconsistent as to the name of Sarpedon’s mother. Aeschylus followed the Hesiodic version in preference to that of Homer, who calls her Laodamia. Nor was he disturbed by the Homeric genealogy, by which Sarpedon was made the grandson of Bellerophon on the mother’s side. In the poet’s time no one had yet thought, as did the mythographers later, to remove the difficulty, either by assuming two Sarpedons (one the son of Laodamia, the other the son of Europe) or by the notion that there was one Sarpedon, who had been permitted by his father Zeus to live through three generations.
The drama probably dealt with the reception of the news of the hero’s death at the hands of Patroclus and with the arrival of his body in Lycia, borne thither by Sleep and Death (cp. P 682). All other Homeric warriors who fell before Troy were buried in the Troad; Sarpedon alone had burial in his own land.
To this play has been ascribed Fragments 175, 231.


Weil, Un papyrus inedit de le bibliothèque de M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot (1879) ; cp. Weil, Revue de philologie nouv. Sér. iv. (1880) 10-13, 145-150.
The papyrus is relatively late and exceedingly corrupt. The verses are without word-division.

And a lush meadow gave friendly welcome to the bull. In such wise, biding where he was,1 did Zeus succeed in his unlaboured theft of me from my aged sire.2 Why the whole tale? In a few words I recount it all. A mortal woman, united to a god I lost the holiness of maidenhood, but I was joined in wedlock with him who owned his children equally with me.3 Thrice in childbirth did I endure the pangs of womankind, and the field wherein he sowed complained not to bring forth the seed of a noble sire. First of these mighty implantings that I bare was Minos . . .4 Second, I brought forth Rhadamanthys,5 he who of my sons is free from death; yet, though he lives, mine eyes behold him not – and to them that love, the absent bring no delight. This was he for whom I am now sore distressed in heart, even Sarpedon; for Ares’ warlike spirit hath laid hold of him. For it is famed abroad that the choicest flower of all Hellas has come, preëminent in valorous strength, and makes loud boast that it will perforce destroy the city of the Trojans. It is for my son I fear, lest, raging with his lance, he may do and suffer6 some surpassing ill. For slight is this my hope – and it standeth on the razor’s edge – that by the bloody death of my child I may not lose my all.

1. Since Europa declares that Zeus remained “where he was” (namely in Crete), she implies that her carrying-off had been effected by the bull as the agent of the god, and not (as in the ordinary version of the legend) by the god himself transformed into the animal.
2. Phoenix.
3. Since she bore no less than three children to Zeus, her relation to the god is conceived as that of formal marriage founded on his desire for offspring. zunônia paidôn, lit. joint-ownership of children. Cp. koinan tekeôn tuchan, Euripides, Ion 1101.
4. In the lacuna were described the deeds, honours, and death of Minos; but Minos, since Rhadamanthys alone is called immortal, was probably not made the judge of the dead.
5. Rhadamanthys has been translated to the Elysian Field (d563) or to the Islands of the Blest (Pindar, Olympian 2. 73).
6. The desire to employ the favourite antithesis of dran and paschein is responsible for the condensed phrase, in which the emphasis rests on pathê (I fear, lest, as he may work some evil upon his foes, so he may suffer some evil at their hands).


Stobaeus, Anthology iv. 10. 24 (Hense iv. 333).

But Ares ever loves to pluck all the fairest flower of an armed host.


A satyric play dealing with the story of Cercyon, son of Poseidon and king of Eleusis, who forced all passers-by to wrestle with him. Bacchylides 17. 26 says that Theseus “closed his wrestling-school.”


Pollux, Vocabulary 10. 175.

Ear-coverings close to his ear-rings.

amphôtides were worn to protect the ears of wrestlers.


The Heralds or The Messengers was a satyric play on an unknown subject; possibly connected with Heracles.
See Fragments 168, 170, 171, 178.


Pollux, Vocabulary 10. 186.

Down over the skin-coat of lion’s hide.


The seer Polyidus of Corinth discovered the dead body of Glaucus, the lost son of Minos, and restored it to life by his skill in interpreting Apollo’s oracle that had been made known to the father. The power to bring the child back alive – so the god declared – was to be given him who could find the most appropriate object to be compared to Minos’ marvellous cow, which each day became in turn white, red, and black (cp. Frag. 54). The legend of Polyidus was the theme of Sophocles’ Seers.
To The Women of Crete have been ascribed Fragments 165, 173.


Athenaeus, Deipnosophists ii. 36. p. 51D; cp. Eustathius on Iliad 1254. 25.

For at the same season [the branch] is weighed down by mulberries, white and black and red.


The Lion was a satyric play of unknown subject. The title may be derived from the Nemean lion overcome by Heracles.

Stephen of Byzantium, Lexicon 699. 13.

The bane of wayfarers, the serpent that haunts the place.


The satyric play of the Lycurgean trilogy.


Athenaeus, Deipnosophists x. 67. p. 447C.

And after this he drank beer thinned by age, and made thereof loud boast in the banquet-hall (?).