Quotations by Aeschylus


It is easy when we are in prosperity to give advice to the afflicted.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
(Attributed)

Alt trans.: "'Tis easy for any man who has his foot unentangled by sufferings both to exhort and to admonish him that is in difficulties."
Added on 6-Mar-13 | Last updated 6-Mar-13
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Hell to ships, hell to men, hell to cities.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Agamemnon

Speaking of Helen of Troy. The literal translation is "Ship-destroyer, man-destroyer, city-destroyer."
Added on 10-Oct-16 | Last updated 10-Oct-16
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It is the nature of mortals to kick a fallen man.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Agamemnon (458 BC)
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Death is a softer thing by far than tyranny.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Agamemnon, I. 1364

Alt trans.: "Death is better, a milder fate than tyranny." "Death is softer by far than tyranny."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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How rare, men with the character to praise
a friend’s success without a trace of envy.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Agamemnon, l. 818 [tr. R. Fagles (1975)]
Added on 15-Dec-09 | Last updated 15-Dec-09
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Few men have the natural strength to honour a friend’s success without envy. … I well know that mirror of friendship, shadow of a shade.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Agamemnon, l. 832

Alt trans.: "It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered."
Added on 9-Jan-08 | Last updated 9-Jan-08
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Only when man’s life comes to its end in prosperity can one call that man happy.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Agamemnon, l. 928

Alt trans.:
"Call no man happy till he is dead."
"Hold him alone truly fortunate who has ended his life in happy well-being."

Compare to Sophocles.

Added on 18-Aug-09 | Last updated 18-Aug-09
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Zeus, who guided mortals to be wise,
has established his fixed law —
wisdom comes through suffering.
Trouble, with its memories of pain,
drips in our hearts as we try to sleep,
so men against their will
learn to practice moderation.
Favours come to us from gods
seated on their solemn thrones —
such grace is harsh and violent.

τὸν φρονεῖν βροτοὺς ὁδώ-
σαντα, τὸν [πάθει μάθος]
θέντα κυρίως ἔχειν.
στάζει δ’ ἀνθ’ ὕπνου πρὸ καρδίας
μνησιπήμων πόνος· καὶ παρ’ ἄ-
κοντας ἦλθε σωφρονεῖν.
δαιμόνων δέ που χάρις βίαιος
σέλμα σεμνὸν ἡμένων.

Aeschylus - awful grace - wist_info quote

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Agamemnon, ll. 175-183 [tr. Johnston (2007)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

  • [Hamilton (1930)]: "God, whose law it is that he who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despite, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."
  • [Hamilton (1937)]: "Guide of mortal man to wisdom, he who has ordained a law, knowledge won through suffering. Drop, drop -- in our sleep, upon the heart sorrow falls, memory’s pain, and to us, though against our very will, even in our own despite, comes wisdom by the awful grace of God."

The first alternate was used, slightly modified, by Robert Kennedy in his speech on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (4 Apr 1968). Kennedy's family used it as an epitaph on his grave Arlington National Cemetery: "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."

See here for more discussion.

Added on 19-Aug-08 | Last updated 4-Dec-15
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For somehow this is tyranny’s disease, to trust no friends.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Prometheus Bound, l. 224

Alt trans: "In every tyrant's heart there springs in the end this poison, that he cannot trust a friend."

Added on 6-Jan-09 | Last updated 6-Jan-09
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And from your policy do not wholly banish fear,
For what man living, freed from fear, will still be just?

aeschylus-freed-from-fear-will-still-be-just-wist_info-quote

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
The Eumenides
Added on 3-Nov-16 | Last updated 3-Nov-16
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Everyone’s quick to blame the alien.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
The Suppliant Maidens
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Fragment 385
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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