Since one purpose of this scene is to give the prestige of divine sanction to the legal processes in Athens, this trial has many similarities to the way in which trials were actually conducted in the time of Aeschylus. Among these similarities are the preliminary hearing to determine jurisdiction, the privilege of the accused to speak last, the rule that the accused be acquitted if the votes of the jurors are equal, the repeated exhortations to the jurors to remember their oaths, and the right of the plaintiff to prosecute his own case. The ancient homicide court of the Areopagus was one of the most revered legal institutions in fifth century Athens. The interesting account of its origin given by Aeschylus must have made his complex story seem particularly pertinent in the eyes of his audience. Apollo acts as the advocate of Orestes at the trial, but the defense he presents is far from adequate.
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