PhD Candidate in Japan, researching Narrative in Games. Responds favorably to Thrash Metal, Karaoke, and Dungeons & Dragons.
On Sophocles and the avoidance of Fate
July 11, 2013
My favorite Greek playwright, Sophocles, has come up in recent readings. It made me remember a strange story that one of my Classical professors told in class once about a famous Greek tragedian getting killed by having a crab dropped on his head by a seagull. As it turns out, I have got all the details wrong in this trivial anecdote. Apparently, according to some sources, it was Aeschylus who was killed in this fashion, and according to the wiki, it goes like this: "In 458 BC, [Aeshylus] returned to Sicily for the last time, visiting the city of Gela where he died in 456 or 455 BC. Valerius Maximus wrote that he was killed outside the city by a tortoise dropped by an eagle which had mistook his head for a rock suitable for shattering the shell of the reptile. Pliny, in his Naturalis Historiæ, adds that Aeschylus had been staying outdoors to avoid a prophecy that he would be killed by a falling object." Until today, I found this to be a very outlandish story, but after a bit more digging, I came across the following footage of eagles dragging and picking up juvenile goats and dropping them to their death, followed by flying away with said dead goat in their talons: