What was Aeschylus’s view of the Trojan war?

In ancient Greek history Aeschylus is often described as “the father of tragedy,” he receives this description because he wrote about great Greek tragedies.  He was said to have written a vast amount of plays, however, unfortunately, only a small number of those survived to this day.  He was born in the late 6th century B.C. and died in the mid 5th century B.C..  In one of his most famous tragedies “Agamemnon” he provides some account on his view of the Trojan war.  This tragedy is dramatic, however, one may not learn about the Trojan war by reading it.  He only provides brief account on his view of the famous and devastating war.

While many people are in doubt about whether the Trojan war actually happened or not, the story of the Trojan war was heavily influential on western society.  The war that lasted 10 years, was believed to have began by an act of adultery, it ended in the destruction of Troy, and many deaths of Greek men.

During the war, the main character of the play, Agamemnon, offered a human sacrifice, his own daughter, Iphigenia.  This act was performed to settle war-related issues.  In the tragedy, this act itself was not perceived as wicked, but the wickedness was directed towards the attitude of Agamemnon.  He showed no mercy towards his daughter and did not struggle to command the wicked act.  Personally, I took from this that Aeschylus was attempting to display the way that this horrendous war effected the minds of men.  Agamemnon slaughtering his daughter was a mere example of the other acts that took place during the span of this war.  It seems as though Aeschylus’ view of the war was that it poisoned the minds of men.

Regarding justice, there was no finality, there was no ultimate judgement of good or bad.  Bloodshed was justified by more bloodshed.  These men had no morals, or at least it was interpreted that way in the plays.  Without a set of morals, humankind becomes no better than a beast.  The thing that sets human beings apart from all other creatures is the ability to apply reason, take away reason and men become brainless creatures unaware of the impact of their acts.  Even without an idea of God, I believe that men can reason and separate the difference between good and evil.  In general, a man would not order to have his daughter killed and be satisfied with the act, the war corrupted man’s reason.

Some of the gods sided with Troy, while some of the gods sided with Greece.  The gods did not impose an ultimate end sanction in the war, however they did intervene with more powerful acts than men, for instance, the gods had the ability to install a curse on man, which in some cases can be worse than murdering a man.

The tragedy was not central to the war itself but rather the affect of the war on the men who fought, the families of the men who fought, and the acts of the minds that were corrupted in the war.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s