the drama. First, she tells us that she raised Orestes from birth, soothing him through his
infant nights and breasteeding him when he was hungry. She thus negates Clytamnestra's
claim to motherhood of Orestes. Second, it is she who Clytamnestra orders to
eagles represent the warrior kings, and the hare represents Troy. While they
will be victorious, they will do so by committing bloody acts that are sure to
bring retribution. Artemis ensures that Agamemnon will pay for his crimes,
forcing him to sacrifice
The chorus continues to teach Electra what to say, for she is "unseasoned" and cannot think of
the words. The leader tells her to invoke some evil against the murderers (Clytamnestra and
Aigisthos), calling for "the one who murders in return." Electra que
Summary of Lines 183
Orestes returns from years of exile to visit the grave of Agamemnon, his father, who was
murdered by his mother, Clytamnestra. He is accompanied by Pylades, who remains silent
until much later in the play. He opens the play with an in
that they have come as a result of a terrible dream that queen Clytamnestra had the night
before. The dream interpreters said that the dream came from the dead king, who rages
against his murderer. The queen then bid the slave women go to the grave and gi
she can see his curls, and assumes that he sent it in order to honor their father. The chorus
says that it is all the more cause for grief, as it must be a sign that Orestes will never return.
Electra gives a long, emotional speech, torn by the hope that
Orestes makes a prayer to Zeus, speaking for both himself and Electra, asking the god to watch
over them like a brood of young eagles whose father died in a snake's coils. Both children are
now miserable exiles. Orestes reminds Zeus in his prayer that Aga
triumphant cries when "the man is stabbed, the woman dies." Their hatred is rising to a
furious pitch. Electra joins in now, crying, "Zeus, crush their skulls! Kill! Kill!"
The chorus justifies these murderous cries by saying that "it is the law." Blood m
Summary of Lines 479584
Orestes and Electra make one last plea to Agamemnon before moving on to other concerns.
They make specific, prodding prayers that are meant to incur the wrath of their father so that
he will come to their aid. They remind him of al
c an understand this metaphor in opposition to a spear or sword metaphor, which would imply
direct and open contact with the enemy. A net is like a trap that is laid well in advance. For this
reason, it is associated with all kinds of plotting and decepti
As this play chronicles the transiton of society from its dark and primitve origins to its new
civilized and illuminated state, it is natural that the motf of light and dark should occur
throughout the play. The house of Atreus has sat under a dark clo ud
vengeance commited in the play stem directly from his sacrificial murder of his daughter,
Iphigineia Sister to Orestes and Electra, murdered by her father Agamemnon at Artemis's
request during the Trojan War. Clytamnestra avenges her death by
In contrast to both Agamemnon, and Aigisthos, Orestes is a worthy adversary
for Clytamnestra. He is the only one who can equal her metal prowess and
physical presence. The chorus is quite wrong when it says that Orestes is only
his father's son. Orestes i
regard, and would have seen Clytamnestra's intelligence and resolve as a
gross overstepping of the natural bounds of female existence. Or, at least,
this is the impression that we get from the chorus, which is as close a
representative of Greek ideals as
necessarily lead to her own downfall, as Orestes will hold her accountable for her crimes. She
is a cunning and powerful viper whose son has also grown up to be a viper, and who does not
hesitate to bite the breast that fed him.
Electra seems to a
Electra is also weak in that she is so quick to unleash passionate hatred upon her own mother.
While Orestes sees the necessity for punishing Clytamnestra for her crimes, he does not
viscerally hate her in the same way that Electra does. At one point in t
At times, one may find Aeschylus rather overwhelming in his complexity.
However, it is this complexity that compels us to return to him again and again.
One of the manifestations of this complexity is that there are no clear good
guys or bad guys, but rat
The cyclical nature of blood crimes
The ancient law of the Furies mandates that blood must be paid for with blood
in an unending cycle of doom. The chorus states this fact several times
throughout the play, most clearly in the first section of the
recompense for his crime. In the Eumenides, this theme is fully developed,
as the Furies are tamed and relegated to a far less powerful position in
society. It is also significant that that Furies are female deities, while Apollo
is masculine, thus equati
Clytamnestra and Aigisthos. Or, Orestes says, if Aigisthos is not weak like a woman, then he
will soon get the chance to prove it.
Summary of Lines 306478
The Chorus, Orestes, and Electra switch off saying prayers. The Chorus begins by calling for the
The chorus then describes Clytamnestra's terrifying dream. They tell that
she dreamed she bore a snake, and wrapped it like a baby. Then she tried
to feed it from her breast, but the snake bit her, and blood curdled the milk.
She awoke with a scream, and
The chorus reminds Electra to remember her brother as an ally, although he is still "away from
home." The Greek here is again ambiguous. "Thuraios" means both "away" and "outside the
door." There is some irony here, as we know that Orestes is indeed just
Electra bids the chorus in this speech to tell her what to say over the tomb of
her father. Fagel translates this line as saying "What kindness, what prayer
can touch my father?" However, there is more in the Greek than meets the
eye. The word that Fagel
Analysis of Lines 164245
This section of the text covers the recognition scene between Orestes and
Electra. There are three stages. First, Electra discovers the lock of hair.
Instead of telling her how to speak, the chorus is suddenly asking her for
they are conflated into one eagle image. Clytamnestra, on the other hand, is a conniving snake.
When Orestes says that the eagle has died in her coils, he does not mean by strangulation.
Rather, female vipers were thought by the Greeks to bite the neck of
avenge their kin's death. For, failing to avenge a death was equivalent to
causing it. Apollo's association with the Furies here shows that the cthonic and
Olympian powers are still aligned. It is not until the Eumenides that a conflict
between these two
precedent in the Greek theater for the ghost of a dead man to actually appear
following such an invocation, leaving the audience in suspense in this situation
as to whether Agamemnon is about to appear. While he does not make an
entrance onto the stage, f
then served his brother's sons to him as a feast. This is the premise behind
Aigisthos's anger against Agamemnon, and sets in motion the train of
bloody events that leads to this play.
Thus, the law that the doer of a crime must suffer has been the law of
Electra has said that she wishes to be entirely different from her mother (line 140141), and
here we see her fulfilling that desire.
Orestes's first words to his sister are that she should thank the gods for fulfilling her prayers.
Just as Electra appeare
The fact that the serving women are clothed in black is a significant visual
symbol, as they will be present on stage for the remainder of the play. There
is a great deal of light and dark imagery in The Libation Bearers, which is
expressed both in the di