Selective Chronology of Athenian Drama


Dr Livingstone has very kindly allowed me to reproduce his selective chronology of Athenian Drama here.


Names of surviving plays are printed in bold. Only a small sample of lost or fragmentary plays is included here, limited to those which have particular significance in relation to surviving plays, or as landmarks in their author’s career. Where both are in common use, the Greek (or Latinised Greek) form of a play’s name is given in brackets after its English name.

525/4 Birth of Aeschylus
508/7 Cleisthenes’ reforms
497-494 Birth of Sophocles
493 Phrynichus Sack of Miletus
490 Battle of Marathon
484 Aeschylus’ first victory
480 Battles of Artemisium, Thermopylae, Salamis
479 Battle of Plataea
c. 476 Birth of Euripides
472 Aeschylus Persians (Persae), Phineus, Glaucus, Prometheus [not the P. Bound; maybe a (satyr?)-play called P. the Firekindler] – 1st
468 Sophocles victorious in his first contest (defeating Aeschylus), perhaps with Triptolemus
467 Aeschylus Laius, Oedipus, Seven against Thebes, Sphinx (satyr-play) – 1st
463 Aeschylus Suppliants, Aigyptioi, Danaides, Amymone (satyr-play) – 1st, Sophocles 2nd
462 Ephialtes’ reforms
461 Assassination of Ephialtes
458 Aeschylus Agamemnon, Libation Bearers (Choephori), Eumenides, Proteus (satyr-play)
456 Death of Aeschylus
455 Euripides’ first contest: Daughters of Pelias (Peliades)
451 Periclean citizenship law
442? Sophocles Antigone
441 Euripides’ first victory
438 Euripides Cretan Women, Alcmaeon in Psophis, Telephus, Alcestis   – 2nd, Sophocles 1st
431 Peloponnesian War (to 404)
  Euripides Medea, Philoctetes, Diktys, Harvesters (Theristai, satyr-play) – 3rd, Sophocles 2nd
430-429 Plague in Athens; death of Pericles
post-430? Sophocles Oedipus the King (Oedipus Tyrannus)
430-428? Euripides Children of Heracles (Heracleidae)
428 Euripides Hippolytus (revised version) -1st
  Revolt of Mytilene
427 Aristophanes Banqueters – 2nd
426 Aristophanes Babylonians – City Dionysia
425 Aristophanes Acharnians – Lenaia, 1st
425? Euripides Andromache
424 Aristophanes Knights – Lenaia, 1st
pre-423 Euripides Hecuba
423 Aristophanes Clouds (first version) – City Dionysia, ranked low
  Euripides Cresphontes
423? Euripides Suppliants (Suppliant Women)
422 Aristophanes Wasps – Lenaia, 2nd
  Euripides Erechtheus
421 Aristophanes Peace – City Dionysia, 2nd
post-420? Euripides Phaethon
415-413 Athenian expedition to Sicily
pre-415? Euripides Madness of Heracles (Hercules Furens)
pre-415? Euripides Electra
415 Euripides Alexandros, Palamedes, Trojan Women (Troades), Sisyphos (satyr-play) – 2nd
414 Aristophanes Amphiaraos – Lenaia
  Aristophanes Birds – City Dionysia, 2nd
pre-412? Euripides Iphigenia Among the Taurians (Iphigenia in Tauris)
pre-412? Euripides Ion
412 Euripides Helen, Andromeda
412? Euripides Cyclops (satyr-play)
411 Aristophanes Lysistrata (- Lenaia?)
  Aristophanes Women at the Thesmophoria (Thesmophoriazusae) (- City Dionysia?)
  Oligarchic regimes of the ‘Four Hundred’ and ‘Five Thousand’
411-409/8 Euripides Phoenician Women (Phoenissae), Antiope, Hypsipyle
409 Sophocles Philoctetes – 1st
408 Euripides Orestes
  Aristophanes Wealth
406 Death of Euripides
406-405 Death of Sophocles
post-406 Euripides Bacchae, Iphigenia at Aulis, Alcmaeon in Corinth posthumously produced – 1st
405 Aristophanes Frogs – Lenaia, 1st
405/4 Athens surrenders after final defeat at Aigospotamoi
404-3 Rule of the Thirty Tyrants
402-401 Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus (Oedipus Coloneus) posthumously produced
399 Trial and execution of Socrates
392? Aristophanes Assembly-Women (Ecclesiazusae)
388 Aristophanes Wealth (Plutus) (- 1st?)
post-388 Aristophanes Aiolosikon and Kokalos

Aeschylus (?) Prometheus Bound: no consensus either about its date or about whether it’s by Aeschylus, the two questions being interrelated. See Taplin 1977.

Sophocles Ajax: undateable. Traditionally thought to be the earliest surviving play by Sophocle, on grounds of style and technique, but some (e.g., Lloyd-Jones) are inclined to regard it as quite late.

Sophocles Women of Trachis (or Trachiniae): generally regarded as quite early on grounds of structure and metre, but subject to debate.

Sophocles Electra: generally regarded as quite late on grounds of form and tone. Various attempts have been made to show which of the two Electras (Sophocles’ or Euripides’) came first.

Euripides (?) Rhesus: the authorship of this play is generally thought not to have been Euripides.

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