Aeschylus was a Greek playwright during the Classical Era of Greece, whose attitude about war was affected by the Persian wars he fought in and the histories of the Trojan War. Aeschylus wanted to transform the peoples’ ideas about cycles of revenge and bloodshed to those of democracy and transcendent law. Transcendent law is a high law that applies to everyone. When people kill each other for vengeance they are taking the law into their own hands. When the law is taken into the hands of each individual the people live in a state of lawlessness. Lawlessness and cycles of revenge undermine the civilization. This is Aeschylus’s main theme in his play Agamemnon.
Aeschylus shows his attitude against war many times throughout his play when he makes references to lawlessness and cycles of revenge that cause unnecessary bloodshed. In Agamemnon, Aeschylus uses his characters to express his political opinion on war. In lines 49-54 Agamemnon and Menelaus’s war cry, at the outset of the Trojan War, is compared to that of eagles stricken with agony after they lose their young and their homes. Aeschylus’s statement is one of doom and destruction on many levels. Troy is destroyed, many Greeks die, and the House of Atreus is destroyed. On line 437, the chorus is speaking and they say that the god of war was the “money changer” of dead bodies. When the citizens of Greece sent their young men off to fight they got urns packed with ashes in return. The Greeks felt cheated by the cost of the Trojan War. In lines 442-444, it says, “dust” of loved ones is “heavy and bitter with tears shed, packing smooth the urns with ashes that were once men.” The people say (lines 447-448) “sons went down splendid in the slaughter and all for some strange woman.” The people “mutter in secrecy and the slow anger creeps below their grief at Atreus’ sons and their quarrels.” They blame Agamemnon and