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Comment: I have seen several web sites which claim that the ancient Greek playwrite Aeschylus died when a vulture (or an eagle) dropped a tortoise on his head, apparently mistaking his bald head for a rock. Can you confirm this?
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Andrew of Ware, England
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I have heard this story as well. However, I cannot find any reference to it in any of my books on Greek history - except the children's book, 'The Groovy Greeks'. This is in the 'Horrible Histories' series and is often more concerned with comedy than with accuracy.

In 'Greece and the Hellenistic World' (part of the 'Oxford History of the Classical World') it mentions that Aeschylus wrote his own epitaph. It said that he wanted to be remembered as a soldier in the infantry at the Battle of Marathon, not as a playwright. There is no mention on the manner of his death.

A lengthy article in the 'Encyclopaedia of the Ancient Greek World' (edited by David Sacks) mentions an anecdote from his early life but merely says that he died in Sicily at the age of 69 (456 BC). Once again the manner of his death is not mentioned.

Is Sicily noted for its short-sighted eagles?

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Andrew, Ware, England

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Brad from Georgia
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I learned the story in my Classical Culture course at college. Struck me as a good way for Aeschylus to go, though my teacher said that the tale originated in a satire (sorry, can't recall the title) and had no basis in fact. However, IIRC, Euripides died after being attacked by ferocious guard dogs.

Brad "That tragedy didn't make me laugh once! Smithers, release the hounds" from Georgia

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Bubby
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I always thought the Horrible Histories books were surprisingly accurate...

I heard the same stories they listed in my IB history class back in high school...

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Andrew of Ware, England
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'Horrible Histories' are often accurate, but I have noticed one or two 'questionable' facts appearing in them - such as the Aeschylus story. I would recommend them, though, to children of all ages. I would not use them as the final voice of authority on any subject, though.

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Andrew, Ware, England

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