(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

In the archonship of Philocles, in 458 b.c.e., Aeschylus won first prize with his dramatic trilogy, The Oresteia. This story of the doomed descendants of the cruel and bloody Atreus is one of the great tales of classic literature. Aeschylus, building his plays upon themes of doom and revenge, was deeply concerned with moral law in the Greek state. For this reason the moral issues of the plays are clear and steadfast, simple and devastating in implication, especially the working of conscience in the character of Orestes. Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and Eumenides are the individual titles which make up the trilogy.