Odysseus puts the kings suspicions to rest by declaring that he is indeed
a mortal. He then explains his predicament, and the king and queen
gladly promise to see him off the next day in a Phaeacian ship.
Later that evening, when the king and queen are al
him in the end just like any other murderer, goading him into madness
after he kills Clytamnestra. The chorus hopes all along that the cycle of
bloodshed might end with Orestes, but concedes at the end that blood
can only bring more blood. However, there
an era of optimism, in which Athenians felt that a new religious, political
and personal harmony could arise out of the primitive savagery of past
wars. It is in this context that Aeschylus, at the age of sixty-seven and
after producing at least eighty pl
breaks her prophet's staff and tears off her garland, saying "out, down, /
break, damn you! This for all you have done to me" (1266-67).
Cassandra's unfortunate experience with prophecy is typical of Greek
tragedy, wherein the prophetic gift is usually mo
Cassandra's fate-to be a prophetess whom no one believes-makes her a
figure of terrible pity. She has the foresight that the Chorus and the rest
of Argos lack, but her prophecy is wasted on ears that refuse to believe
her; the Chorus fails to understand h
the battle of Marathon against the Persians in 490 BCE and again against
the Persians at Salamis and Platea in 480 BCE. Athens, at that time, was
part of a federation of small Greek states allied against the enormous
forces of the Persian army, which was
Several critics have questioned why Clytemnestra's plot succeeded; why
does the Chorus, and all of Argos, submit to a husband- murderer, a
blustering braggart and his group of thugs? The Chorus repeatedly
threatens to exile or execute the adulterous coupl
(1575-76). This arrogant declaration makes her guilty of the same deadly
hubris that plagued her husband.
Commentary of Lines 1577-1673
Many versions of Agamemnon's story circulated in Aeschylus' time. In
some, Aegisthus, not Clytemnestra, stabs the King.
Edith Hamilton, author of the classic text Mythology, writes, "remorse
will never touch her."
When addressing the ethical legitimacy of Clytemnestra's actions, we
should remember that Aeschylus was building a three-part story, of
which Agamemnon is only t
Many years after king Agamemnon's murder at the hands of his wife
Clytamnestra and her lover Aigisthos, his son Orestes returns home with
Pylades to mourn at his grave. Orestes has been living in exile and has
come back to Argos in secret, sent by an orac
Orestes and Electra engage in wishful thinking about how their father
could have lived, but the chorus urges them to focus on the present and
to act on their anger. Together, Orestes and Electra plot to avenge
Agamemnon's death. With the eager support of
Apollo - The Greek god of light, civilization and learning, Apollo does not
appear directly in The Libation Bearers, although his influence is strongly
felt. He is represented by his proxy, Pylades. It is Apollo who sends an
oracle to Orestes that orders
him to keep certain things hidden and bring other things to light. In effect,
they ask Hermes to make sure that Clytamnestra and Aigisthos do not
recognize the truth before it is too late.
Furies - The ancient spirits of vengeance, the Furies ensure that
him through his infant nights and breastfeeding him when he was hungry.
She thus negates Clytamnestra's claim to motherhood of Orestes. Second,
it is she who Clytamnestra orders to tell Aigisthos to come meet the
strangers with his bodyguard. After the ch
made up of slave women from the palace. They represent the common
interests and ideals of society and frequently comment on the action in
highly lyrical odes. The chorus of this play differs from those of other
famous tragedies in that it influences the c
the sister of Helen of Troy, and cousin to Penelope (Odysseus' wife).
Although she does not spend much time on stage in The Libation Bearers,
her character has already been fully developed in the preceding play, the
Agamemnon, and thus her influences are
reminds him of his duties to Apollo, saying that one should rather make
enemies of all men than anger the gods. After saying these words,
Pylades becomes silent once more.
Electra - Orestes' older sister, Electra cared for him as a child and loves
direction of Delphi, where he will seek refuge at Apollo's shrine. The
chorus despairs at the end of the play that the cycle of bloodshed has not
stopped with Orestes's action, but continues ever still.
Orestes - Orestes is the son of Clyta
appears briefly on stage, after which he goes back into the palace to
meet Orestes. His death is announced by his servant, who cries out for
Clytamnestra to come and see what's happening.
Alarmed at all the shouting, Clytamnestra appears and immediately
blessing to see with god- gifted eyes if they behold only suffering and loss.
Better, Cassandra realizes, to have those eyes closed forever.
Commentary of Lines 1331-1576
This section features Clytemnestra's moment of triumph. She has been
Piraeus not to bring his gifts from Menelaus to the palace; he fears that
the suitors will steal them if they kill him. When he sits down to eat with
Penelope, Telemachus tells her what little news he received of Odysseus
in Pylos and Sparta, but he doesn
Odysseus then speaks with the Theban prophet Tiresias, who reveals that
Poseidon is punishing the Achaeans for blinding his son Polyphemus. He
foretells Odysseuss fatethat he will return home, reclaim his wife and
palace from the wretched suitors, and the
with the spirit of Tiresias, a blind prophet who will tell him how to get
The next morning, Odysseus rouses his men for the imminent departure.
He discovers, however, that the youngest man in his crew, Elpenor, had
gotten drunk the previous night, s
Polyphemus, by clinging to the bellies of the monsters sheep as they go
out to graze. Safe on board their ships and with Polyphemuss flock on
board as well, Odysseus calls to land and reveals his true identity. With
his former prisoners now out of reach,
hospitality at first, but he soon turns hostile. He devours two of
Odysseuss men on the spot and imprisons Odysseus and the rest in his
cave for future meals.
Odysseus wants to take his sword to Polyphemus right then, but he
knows that only Polyphemus is
stay until the reinforced ranks of the Cicones turn on them and attack.
Odysseus and his crew finally escape, having lost six men per ship. A
storm sent by Zeus sweeps them along for nine days before bringing
them to the land of the Lotus-eaters, where th
the topic of discussion will be the godlike visitor who recently appeared
on the island. At the assembly, Alcinous proposes providing a ship for his
visitor so that the man can return to his homeland. The measure is
approved, and Alcinous invites the coun
them in another feast, at which the Phaeacian youth entertain him and
prove their preeminence in song and dance. Demodocus performs again,
this time a light song about a tryst between Ares and Aphrodite.
Afterward, Alcinous and each of the young Phaeacian
Lacking wind, the Achaeans row to the land of the Laestrygonians, a race
of powerful giants whose king, Antiphates, and unnamed queen turn
Odysseuss scouts into dinner. Odysseus and his remaining men flee
toward their ships, but the Laestrygonians pelt th
the hands of his wife, Clytemnestra. Next he meets Achilles, who asks
about his son, Neoptolemus. Odysseus then tries to speak with Ajax, an
Achaean who killed himself after he lost a contest with Odysseus over the
arms of Achilles, but Ajax refuses to sp