translated by Kenneth McLeish and Frederic Raphael
Taking the 480 BC destruction of the invading Persian forces as its starting point, Aeschylus's Persians shows the lamenting Persian Queen, mother of Xerxes, far away from the battlefield as she learns of the evisceration of the men of her kingdom. Bit by bit news reaches her of her son's defeat, how the Greeks won out against the Persians superior numbers, and how none of the survivors have hope of returning to their homeland; all but Xerxes, whose final fate is to witness the collapse of a kingdom his failure has destroyed.
In the introduction, translators Kenneth McLeish and Frederic Raphael write that, although Aeschylus's play celebrates a Greek triumph, "it does so in an unprecedented way: the innovation lies in the negative space defined by the lamentations which fill the stage". The empathy so majestically felt and displayed by the Greek playwright for the losses of his 'enemies' is matched here by McLeish's superlative translation, capturing at once the extravagance of feeling of a defeated nation, and the spare verse in which these lamentations are cried.