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The Authorship of Prometheus Bound

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The Authorship of Prometheus Bound

Postby swiftnicholas » Mon Jun 20, 2005 12:40 am

Any opinions or ideas about the authorship of Prometheus Bound? In my understanding of the matter: Aeschylean authorship was never questioned in ancient times, but Mark Griffith's study has provided quality statistics which seem to show that the language of the play differs significantly from the other Aeschylean works. But (and even Griffith admits this) we have only seven of Aeschylus' plays, and three of them comprise a trilogy, and are therefore likely from the same period in his career. There was an article in 2003 by H.L. Jones which argued for Aeschylean authorship, while still respecting the results of Griffith's study.

I can't offer any insights, but I'm curious to know what others think. I think it is important that the ancients seem never to have doubted its authorship, especially because they had access to many many more dramas than we do today. But the structure of the play did seem strange to me: it is very static, even if we expect it to unfold in the rest of the trilogy.
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Postby Alcibiades » Mon Jun 20, 2005 3:23 pm

Plato's Laws contains approximately 150 words that do not appear in any other platonic dialogue. One needn't doubt the author of something just because the language and style differs.
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Postby mraig » Thu Jun 23, 2005 6:04 pm

How do we know the ancients never doubted its authorship? We have just as little of the ancient scholarship surrounding drama as we do the dramas themselves. And even if they didn't, the ancients also never doubted that there was a man named "Homer" who sat down and wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. In some ways, we know more about the ancient world than the ancients did (e.g. the Minoans).

I think Griffith's study is enough to cast serious doubt on the authorship of the PV. Many of the statistics he uses are a lot more complicated than using different vocabulary - they're the building blocks of an author's style. Still, the point is well taken that we have very little of Aeschylus's work; taking the Oresteia as a whole, only four samples with which to compare the PV. A comparison (which I believe I am borrowing from another book that discusses the authorship question) would be if we only had a few pieces of Picasso's work, could we take a piece from a different period of his and identify it as his? This is just an unanswerable question. We will never be able to prove it definitively either way. However, I think the majority view in the scholarly community now is to consider the PV to have separate authorship.
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