Aeschylus was the earliest of the three greatest Greek tragedians, the others being Sophocles and Euripides. Aeschylus' work has a strong moral and religious emphasis. Many of his plays end more "happily" than those of the other two; namely, his masterpiece The Oresteia trilogy. Besides the literary merit of his work, Aeschylus' greatest contribution to the theater was the addition of a second actor to his scenes. Previously, the action took place between a single actor and the Greek chorus.
Aeschylus is known to have written over 70 plays, only six of which remain extant:
In 2003 another Aeschylus play was discovered in the wrappings of a mummy in Egypt. The play, Achilles, was part of a trilogy about the Trojan War. It was known to exist due to mentions in ancient sources, but had been lost for over 2000 years.
Aeschylus frequently travelled to Sicily, where the tyrant of Gela was a patron. In 458 he travelled there for the last time; according to traditional legend, Aeschylus was killed in 456 when an eagle (or more likely a Lammergeier), mistaking the playwright's bald crown for a stone, dropped a tortoise on his head.