Aeschylus (525 BC – 456 BC) was a playwright of ancient Greece and is considered the father of Tragedy. He wrote between 70 and 90 plays, won 28 competitions and completely altered the face of the stage… As well as being an important dramatist, he was a successful military man, having taken part in both the Battle of Marathon and the Battle of Salamis.
He is the earliest of the three greatest Greek tragedians, the others being Sophocles and Euripides… and below are Aeschylus’ best quotes.
Bust of Aeschylus
“It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.” – Fragment 385
“For somehow this is tyranny’s disease, to trust no friends.” – Prometheus Bound, lines 224–225
“Words are the physicians of a mind diseased.” – Prometheus Bound, line 378
“His resolve is not to seem, but to be, the best.” – Seven Against Thebes, line 592
“Wisdom comes through suffering.” – The Oresteia, line 178
“It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered. – The Oresteia, lines 832–833
“Only when man’s life comes to its end in prosperity can one call that man happy.” – The Oresteia, lines 928–929
“Death is better, a milder fate than tyranny.” – The Oresteia, line 1364
“Good fortune is a god among men, and more than a god.” – The Libation Bearers, line 59
Did you know??
Robert F. Kennedy quoted these lines in his speech announcing the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on 4 April 1968. His version of Aeschylus’ poetry:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.
Euripides (c. 480 – c. 406 BC) is the great Greek Tragedian of Classical Athens, along with Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed 95 plays to him but, according to the Suda, it was 92 at most. Of these, 18 or 19 have survived more or less complete and there are also fragments, some substantial, of most of the other plays.
10. “The company of just and righteous men is better than wealth and a rich estate.” – Ægeus, Frag. 7
9. “Cleverness is not wisdom. And not to think mortal thoughts is to see few days.” – Bacchæ l. 395
8. “Events will take their course, it is no good of being angry at them; he is happiest who wisely turns them to the best account.” – Bellerophon, (Fragment 298)
7. “A bad beginning makes a bad ending.” – Melanippe the Wise (fragment)
6. “It is said that gifts persuade even the gods.” – Medea, Line 964
Jason and Medea – as depicted by John William Waterhouse, 1907
5. “Every man is like the company he is wont to keep.” – Phœnix Frag. 809
4. “[T]his is slavery, not to speak one’s thought.” – Line 392 (Jocasta); translated by Elizabeth Wyckoff; as found in Euripides IV: Helen, The Phoenician Women, Orestes, ed. Griffith, Most, Grene & Lattimore
The Death of Hippolytus, by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836–1912).
3. “The credit we get for wisdom is measured by our success.” – Hippolytus l. 701, translated by Edward P. Coleridge
2. “Nothing has more strength than dire necessity.” – Helen (412 BC), as translated by Richmond Lattimore
1. “Love is all we have, the only way that each can help the other.” – Orestes l. 298, as translated by William Arrowsmith
Heraclitus (535 – 475 BC) was a Greek Pre Socratic Philosopher who believed that the universe was governed by a divine logos or reason. This fundamental law of the universe held all things in perfect balance.
“Everything changes and nothing stands still.” As quoted by Plato in Cratylus, 402a