The First Surviving Play in the history of western drama. The Persians represents a courageous act on the part of its author. The subject of Aeschylus' play was, in part, the conquering of the Persians by the Greeks, but he presented that event to his Greek audience not from their point of view, but from that of the defeated Persians. Accordingly, the Greeks were faced with a very human portrait of a people that they had only recently enslaved. The effect was to make the enemy knowable, to show the humanity of a people which war - as it has since time immemorial - had generalized and dehumanized. The lesson of Aeschylus' play speaks just as clearly today as it did for the ancient Greeks: the enemy is always us, human beings with shared (even if slightly dissimilar) aspirations and dreams. As director Peter Sellars points out in his introduction, "By humanizing the enemy, Aeschylus begins to suggest that we have much to learn about ourselves through the eyes of others, and that what we think we know about others should be questioned and expanded." In this modern version of Aeschylus' play. Robert Auletta shifts the action of the play from Persia to a modern-day Iraq, and, like Aeschylus, asks Americans to question and challenge their views of our recently defeated enemies.
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