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The Libation Bearers | Stasimon 3 | Summary

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Summary

The Chorus Leader grieves the deaths of Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus, but she's glad Orestes, the longsuffering hope of the house, has won. The Chorus sings triumphantly, justice has come to their master's house. Orestes, as "Apollo's suppliant," followed through with his plan, guided by the goddess of Justice. Dawn has come and the house is free of its chains. The Chorus recalls Apollo's prediction that well-intentioned lies and tricks will always conquer deceit.

Analysis

In Greek tragedies the Chorus is frequently one step ahead of the main characters, seeing the fates the gods have in store before the characters find out. In this stasimon the Chorus is celebrating a triumph the play doesn't actually reveal. They know the house isn't completely cleansed of blood yet. Once "purifying rites expel polluting evil"—once Apollo purifies Orestes of his crime, making him blameless—the house's fortunes will change for the better, but the change will take time. The Chorus describes a long process of chains falling off the house of Atreus and darkness giving way to light. The house is still proceeding through the process, and like the progress of history, the house's redemption moves slowly. As the Chorus mentioned in the Parodos, it sometimes takes years and lifetimes to deliver Justice.

The Chorus places Orestes's deed in the context of history by referencing Priam, the king of Troy defeated in the Trojan War. Justice finally came for Priam, the Chorus sings, and given enough time, Justice came for the powerful criminals Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus. Even though the chorus members in The Libation Bearers are Trojan women held as captive slaves in Argos, they now show loyalty to Argos's royal family instead of Troy's leaders. The female personification of Justice as the "daughter of great Zeus" recalls the goddess Athena, Zeus's daughter ,who serves as the voice of Justice in the next Oresteia play, Eumenides.

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