Aeschylus (c.524 – c.456BC) was a great playwright of Ancient Greece. According to no less an authority than Aristotle, his work transformed Greek theater, expanding the number of characters and allowing conflict between them, rather than just with the chorus. Amongst his surviving plays, The Persians is especially interesting because it dealt with contemporary events. His trilogy, Oresteia, is the only complete trilogy of Greek plays, and includes Agamemnon, The Liberation Bearers, and The Eumenides. His work was immensely popular in his time, and a significant influence on playwrights throughout history. They are still performed around the world today.
He specialized in the genre of tragedy, which gift was given to him in a dream by the god, Dionysus. At the time, he was working in a vineyard in his home town of Elesius, near Athens. He also drew non-divine inspiration from his career as a soldier, when he fought the Persians at the triumphant Battle of Marathon and the Battle of Salamis. He was also initiated into the secret society, the Eleusinian Mysteries, which gave members secret knowledge through religious rites. He was once accused of revealing Eleusinian secrets in his plays, and narrowly escaped an angry mob.
Aeschylus’s death was unspeakably interesting, except perhaps for him. Raptors are known for eating tortoises, and break through their hard shells by dropping them from great heights onto rocks. One day, Aeschylus was visiting Sicily, and strolling through the countryside around the city of Gela. As the sun reflected from his famously bald head, an eagle (or probably a vulture, according to ornithologists) flying above mistook it for a nice rock, and dropped a tortoise it was carrying onto it. The bird was deadly accurate, and the force of a tortoise falling from a great altitude killed him instantly.