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The Libation Bearers | Study Guide


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The Libation Bearers | Stasimon 2 | Summary



The chorus asks Zeus to restore the house of Atreus and deliver justice. They compare Orestes to an "orphan colt" and implore Zeus to help Orestes race toward the goal of confronting his enemies. Then they appeal to other sympathetic gods, Apollo and Hermes, to protect Orestes and to cleanse the house of "old murder." They anticipate singing songs of triumph.

The Chorus then imagines the moment when Orestes and Clytaemnestra reunite. When Clytaemnestra recognizes her son, Orestes will identify himself as "My father's son." The last two stanzas are a direct plea to Orestes to be brave. When he does his job, he'll avenge those he loves, both dead and alive.


The imagery in this Stasimon appears positive and hopeful. Orestes is racing toward his goal as the dark house fills with "freedom's light." The winds are favorable, and the travelers return. Women ("sea wives") wait as caretakers while men are the house's deliverance. The prayer isn't to the gods of the underworld but to Olympian Zeus in the sky. Instead of vengeance the Chorus wants "due order."

But trouble and treachery still lurk. Hermes speaks "in riddles in the night," a metaphor for the all-knowing gods who are wiser than humans, or a reference to the tricks, secrets, and withheld information in the play. Sailing comes with danger, even if the sailors make it home. The Chorus compares Orestes to Perseus, a heroic son of Zeus known for killing the Gorgon Medusa. Orestes will be pursued by his own Gorgons, the Furies, as the play ends. Blood pervades the passage: "blood-guilt" and "old murder." The audience is primed for the final, pivotal episode, in which plenty of blood will be shed.

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