Comparison between the Play Suppliant by Euripides and Persians by Aeschylus

Comparison between the Play Suppliant by Euripides and Persians by Aeschylus

The suppliant which is also called The Suppliant Maiden is an ancient Greek play that was performed by Euripides in the 423BC. It mainly talks about a man called Oedipus, who after leaving Thebes; his sons fight so that they can take control of the city. Polyneices surrounds the city with army forces and cuts of the essential needs of the city, forcing the people inside to surrender, and this is done against his brother Eteocles. This was possible because Polyneices has married the daughter of King Adrastus and so he had the Argive army on his side, who helped him accomplish his mission. After the fight, the brothers die, and Creon takes over the city and announces that Polyneices and Eteocles be not buried in the city. However, their mother tries to look for someone who can reverse the act of Creon so that her sons can be hidden.

On the other hand, the Persians is a play written during the classical period by Aeschylus in the 472BCE. The play mainly focuses on Xerxes who invites enmity for his proud nature which he had against Greece, and the play deals mostly with the defeat of Xerxes’s navy as the Salamis (Han ink & Hulling, 2016, p.51). Contrary to the suppliant play with was set in Thebes,  the game is set in the Persian capital city whereby,  a person met to brings news to the residents,  brings bad news to the queen about the defeat of Salamis. The play seems to connect the conquest of Persia to the Greek independence and the bravery of the people, in addition to the punishment of Persian by the gods for going outside the boundaries of Asia, which was against the law. The play ends with the return of the king Xerxes, while he is humiliated and frustrated due to his defeat.

Several factors can be compared between the two old plays, the Euripides and the Persians. This includes the elements of intellectual, social environment, the themes of the two plays and the plot between the two plays. In addition to the information provided at the stage and the equipment available in the Euripides, some scenes were pivotable and paintings that would allow several changes in the painting scenes. There was thunder and also lightening machines that were used to make the play spectacular. Masks that were made of linen and gypsum were also added later after Thespis created his role as an actor, where he repeatedly would start his act by face painting.

Several differences would be seen between the Euripides and the Suppliants. One of the significant difference involves the intellectual, social environment in which Euripides was writing his play. The intellectual climate is different from that of the Aeschylus’ Anthems in 472. The Greek philosopher who wrote the game was thought to have slot of knowledge about the play. The issue of Protagoras and Anaxagoras was already known to him whereby Protagoras was the man who said: “man is the measure of all things that are not, that they are not.”

Additionally, the main themes that are shown in the two plays are different, whereby in the Persians, the central issue is that of, pride comes before a fall. This was demonstrated in a case whereby, Greece did not only wound the injure and destroy the army of the Persia, but they also killed their pride, whereby the Persia thought that they were powerful and can not be defeated. The defeat makes King Xerxes want to revenge because he felt that the Greeks could not conquer him because his army had early made rebellions in Egypt and Babylon. The sense of pride that King Xerxes has makes him think that he can lead his army to win over the forces of his enemies. His pride blinded him, and this is when the ghost of Darius admonishes the son of king Xerxes, and he tells his father that he has slot of pride and he has been warned by the voice of God to stop attacking Greece.

Contrary to the theme of pride in Persians, there is a theme of marriage in the play Suppliant. In the play, George Thomson tries to explain the tetralogy which was to be used as a defense of the Athenian law which according to the law, the widows were required to marry a brother or a cousin of their dead husband so that they can keep the property of their family. This is shown in the case where Pelasgus asks the Danaids’ which reflects on the Athenian law on the matter that “if by the law of the land, the sons of Aigyptos are your masters, would you oppose them if they claimed to be your next of kin?” Thompson thinks about the statement, and after that, he makes the Athenian law valid, whereby the judge regarded the trial for murder by the court of Areopagus. In the end, the play is finished where the Athenian law that was concerned with the marriage of the next of kin when the husband dies without an heir is made valid.

Moreover, the plot of the play Persians is different from that of the play suppliant, whereby in the Persians, the Advisors of the court of the Persians, who are elderly, serve as the chorus of the play — the king. Xerxes has left to attack Greece, where he took along his great army, but he has not yet returned.  The chorus that is played increases the fear of the men, who are worried and frightened along with the mother of the king Xerxes, which afterward they learn terrible news from a messenger (Danes, 2019, p.10). The bad news evokes emotions from Xerxes’s father, King Darius, which makes him arise from his tomb on the stage. This is followed by the meeting of the advisor with Xerxes who had been defeated, and they mourn together about the falling and defeat of Persia.

The plot is different from that of the suppliant where the Danaids are the ones that form the chorus, and they serve as the protagonist. The Danaids run away from a forced marriage to their cousins who were located in Egypt. When the Danaids reach the Argos, they ask king Pelasgus to protect them where the king refuses, waiting on the decision of the Argive people who had decided on the favor of the Danaids. Danaids rejoices the decision and praises the Greek gods for protecting them.  After a short period, the Herald of the Egyptians come the way of the Danaids and try to force them to return to their cousins for marriage. The king, Pelasgus however arrives and threatens the Herald and encourages the Danaids to stay within the walls of Argos. The play ends with the Danaids retreating into the walls of the Advice, while they are protected.

Additionally, there is a theme of mass grieve in the play Persians whereby when the messenger delivers the news about the defeat of the king Xerxes; the chorus begins to lament heartbreakingly. This was a way for the people to mourn the loss they had suffered, taking into consideration that King Xerxes believed in himself and knew that he would win the war. This is effective because the mourn was to be a lamentation that was to be shared by the Ancient Greek people who had also been injured and their properties destroyed during the wars and therefore they were familiar with the characters and the pain. Several other examples of griefs have been shown in the play for example in the widowed bride, who mourns for the loss she had suffered,  where she lost her husband and the loss of her youth and the hope for her bright future was also lost. This is different from the play suppliant, where there is a theme of not allowing the bodies of the dead people to be buried in their families occurs many times in the history of the Greek literature. This can be seen where there is a fight because of the dead bodies of Patroclus and Hector, and this theme is further developed by the play suppliant where the strangers are ready to start a war in the city so that they can be able to retrieve the bodies of the strangers who had died in the city.

Additionally,  there are differences in the analysis of the two plays whereby in the play Persians,  was taken to have come between a layer that was called Phineus and another that was called Glaucus which had been made to be lost and were then followed, using a traditional style by another play Prometheus the Firelighter which was also lost. Many people have interpreted the game as sympathetic toward the defeat that was aimed at the Persians while other people take it to be a celebration of the Greek victory within the war that was going on. Although people make it as a tragedy, it is not a complete tragedy in the Greek sense, but that was it was aimed for. To help in the triumphant glory giving to the Athens and the whole rejoicing of the city over the loss of the rival in the war. As can be seen, the play was something that was never meant to happen neither in the historical nor in real life. However, when the analysis of the play suppliant was done, there are explicit pro anthems political tones in the play. The play was written in the Peloponnesian war that was against Sparta. Therefore both games were written in the period when the battle was taking place in the places. Contrary to the Persians story, the suppliant mainly talks about politics and does not primarily speak about personal matters.

Additionally, a comparison can be made between the characters who played a part in the two plays.  In the Persians, there is the king Xerxes, who was the king of Persia and there are also three members who were from the royal house, and they appeared in the play as unique creatures who are also present in the actual history. The king. Xerxes is shown in this play to come after their defeat has been announced to the people. Xerxes is shown as a heartbroken and destroyed man who had been caused the fall of the kingdom. Early in life, the king had been described as a person who had been controlled by the rashness and the rustful nature of the youth.  His mother,  Attosa also says that Xerxes is a man who had been brought down because of the advice he took from evil men. The bad characters of king Xerxes are different from the characteristics of a style from the play suppliant who was Thesis.  Thesus had a good heart, and he sought to seek the bodies of the deceased people who had been killed in an unsuccessful fight of the seven against Thebes.  At first, the Thesis refuses to accept the request of Adrastus, and he admits that the Thebans should have held the bodies and he takes the expedition to be rash and ill minded. He is not ready to identify himself with the evil characters and actions of Argives. The grief of the mothers of the soldiers who had died and the appeal that had been made, which was based on sorrow, became successful because of him.

It can be seen that there are several comparisons between the play suppliant and the Persians and there are many differences between the plays. There are different themes in the games, the plot of the play is also different. Also, the intellectual milieu of the two plays is different. Furthermore, there are differences in the analysis of the two matches whereby in the event Persians,  was taken to have come between a layer that was called Phineus and another that was called Glacis which had been made to be lost and were then followed, using a traditional style by another play Prometheus the Firelighter which was also lost.














































Danes, J. (2019). Manipulation of the Rhetoric of Peace and the Deconstruction of Pacifism in Euripides’ Suppliant Women. Mnemosyne1(atop), 1-15.

Han ink, J., & Hulling, A. S. (2016). Aeschylus and His Afterlife in the Classical Period: “My Poetry Did Not Die with Me”. The Reception of Aeschylus’ Plays through Shifting Models and Frontiers, 51.