This article was originally published in A Short History of the Drama. Martha Fletcher Bellinger. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1927. p. 28.

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THIS play offers the only instance in the Aeschylean tragedies of the use of a plot taken from other than Homeric sources. It was written to celebrate the final defeat of the armies of Xerxes, but was not exhibited until 472 B.C., seven years after the hostile army had departed, never to return. The scene is laid in Persia, among the very enemies against whom the Greeks had fought for more than eleven years. The successive scenes give the narrative of the defeat and ruin of the Persian forces. One sees the oriental setting, the fear of the down-trodden subjects in the presence of their despotic ruler, the votive offerings and libations of Queen Atossa, and finally the sorrow and wailing of Xerxes and his courtiers at the news of the disaster. It is easy to imagine how such a play would feed the secret pride and exultation of a Greek audience. It is, however, far more than a boastful picture of Greek triumph and Persian defeat; rather is it a moral lesson on the subject of tyranny, designed to touch the heart and conscience of every oppressor, whether Greek or barbarian.

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