World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Suppliants (Aeschylus)

Article Id: WHEBN0003321979
Reproduction Date:

Title: The Suppliants (Aeschylus)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Achilleis (trilogy), Prometheus Bound, Aeschylus, Aeschylus Plays, Prometheus Unbound (Aeschylus)
Collection: Mythology of Argos, Plays by Aeschylus
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Suppliants (Aeschylus)

The Suppliants
La Danaide Statue by Rodin
Written by Aeschylus
Chorus The Danaides
Characters Danaus
Herald of Aegyptus
Setting shore of Argos

The Suppliants (Ancient Greek: Ἱκέτιδες, Hiketides; Latin Supplices), also called The Suppliant Maidens, or The Suppliant Women, is a play by Aeschylus. It was probably first performed sometime after 470 BC as the first play in a tetralogy, sometimes referred to as the Danaid Tetralogy, which probably included the lost plays The Egyptians (also called Aigyptioi), and The Daughters of Danaus (also called The Danaids or The Danaides), and the satyr play Amymone.[1][2] It was long thought to be the earliest surviving play by Aeschylus due to the relatively anachronistic function of the chorus as the protagonist of the drama. However, evidence discovered in the mid-20th century shows it one of Aeschylus' last plays, definitely after The Persians and possibly after Seven Against Thebes.


  • Plot of The Suppliants 1
  • Lost plays of the tetralogy 2
  • Themes 3
  • Notes 4
  • Sources 5
  • Translations 6
  • Related contemporary works 7
  • External links 8

Plot of The Suppliants

The Danaids form the chorus and serve as the protagonists. They flee a forced marriage to their Egyptian cousins. When the Danaides reach Argos, they entreat King Pelasgus to protect them. He refuses pending the decision of the Argive people, who decide in the favor of the Danaids. Danaus rejoices the outcome, and the Danaids praise the Greek gods. Almost immediately, a herald of the Egyptians comes to attempt to force the Danaids to return to their cousins for marriage. Pelasgus arrives, threatens the herald, and urges the Danaids to remain within the walls of Argos. The play ends with the Danaids retreating into the Argive walls, protected.

Lost plays of the tetralogy

The remaining plays of the tetrology have been mostly lost. However, one significant passage from The Danaids has been preserved. This is a speech by the goddess of love Aphrodite praising the marriage between the sky (the groom) and the earth (the bride) from which rain comes, nourishing cattle, corn and fruits.[3]

As the plot of the remaining plays has been generally reconstructed, following a war with the Aegyptids in which Pelasgus has been killed, Danaus becomes tyrant of Argos. The marriage is forced upon his daughters, but Danaus instructs them to murder their husbands on their wedding night. All do except for Hypermnestra, whose husband, Lynceus, flees. Danaus imprisons or threatens to kill Hypermnestra for her disobedience, but Lynceus reappears and kills Danaus; Lynceus becomes the new king of Argos, with Hypermnestra as his queen. Opinions differ as to the ending, although certainly Aphrodite was involved in the denouement. One opinion is that Lynceus now must decide how to punish the forty-nine homicidal Danaids, when Aphrodite appears in deus ex machina fashion and absolves them of the murders, as they were obeying their father; she then persuades them to abandon their celibate ways, and the trilogy closes with their marriages to forty-nine local Argive men. An alternative opinion is that Hypermnestra is put on trial for disobeying her father and Aphrodite successfully defends her similarly to Apollo's defense of Orestes in Oresteia. The trilogy was followed by the satyr play Amymone, which comically portrayed one of the Danaids' seduction by Poseidon.[2]


  • Works related to The Suppliants at Wikisource
  • The SuppliantsCompare English translations of

External links

  • A recent contemporary adaptation of this play is Charles Mee's "Big Love"

Related contemporary works

  • George Theodoridis, 2009 -prose: full text

• Peter Burian, 1991 - verse


  • Garvie, A.F. Aeschylus' Supplices, Play and Trilogy. Cambridge, 1969.
  • Johansen, H.F. and Whittle, E.W. Aeschylus: The Suppliants. 3 vols. Copenhagen, 1980.
  • Sommerstein, Alan. Aeschylean Tragedy. Bari, 1996.


  1. ^ Diamantopoulos, A. (1957). "The Danaid Tetralogy of Aeschylus". The Journal of Hellenic Studies 77: 220–229.  
  2. ^ a b The 1952 publication of Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 2256 fr. 3 confirmed the existence of a trilogy, probably produced in 463. See Garvie 163-97, Johansen/Whittle 1.23-25 and Sommerstein 141-52 for discussions of the trilogy's date, constituent plays and a hypothetical reconstruction of the plot.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g  


Ridgeway, on the other hand, interpreted the plays as a dramatization of the conflict between matrilineal and patrilineal inheritance.[3]

[3], was brought to Greece from Egypt by the Danaids.Herodotus which, according to Demeter, a festival reserved for woman which was based on the cult of Thesmophoria ending dramatizes the establishment of the court of Areopagus, the Danaid plays may have ended by dramatizing the establishment of the festival of the Oresteia's Thomson further suggests the possibility that as [3], the Danaid plays may have ended by validating the contemporary Athenian law regarding marriage of next-of-kin when the husband dies without an heir.Areopagus ends by validating the contemporary Athenian law regarding trial for murder by the court of Oresteia Thomson speculates that as [3] which echoes Athenian law on the subject: "If the sons of Aigyptos are your masters by the law of the land, claiming to be your next-of-kin, who would wish to oppose them?"The Suppliants This is reflected in the question Pelasgus asks of the Danaids' in [3] According to this interpretation, the Danaids' predicament of being forced into a marriage with their cousins would not have generated as much sympathy with the initial audience, which was accustomed to such marriages, as it might today.[3]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.