The Oresteia: Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides (Everyman's Library)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
One of the founding documents of Western culture and the only surviving ancient Greek trilogy, the Oresteia of Aeschylus is one of the great tragedies of all time.
The three plays of the Oresteia portray the bloody events that follow the victorious return of King Agamemnon from the Trojan War, at the start of which he had sacrificed his daughter Iphigeneia to secure divine favor. After Iphi-geneia’s mother, Clytemnestra, kills her husband in revenge, she in turn is murdered by their son Orestes with his sister Electra’s encouragement. Orestes is pursued by the Furies and put on trial, his fate decided by the goddess Athena. Far more than the story of murder and ven-geance in the royal house of Atreus, the Oresteia serves as a dramatic parable of the evolution of justice and civilization that is still powerful after 2,500 years.
The trilogy is presented here in George Thomson’s classic translation, renowned for its fidelity to the rhythms and richness of the original Greek.
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
run. And if they came guiltless before the Gods, The grievance of the dead might then become Fair-spoken—barring sudden accident. 360 Such is the message brought you by a woman. May good prevail, inclined decisively! Blessings abound, and I would reap their fruit. CHORUS: Woman, your gracious words are like a man’s, Most wise in judgment. I accept the sign And now once more turn to address the Gods. Long labour has been well repaid in joy. (Clytemnestra retires into the palace)
tapestry. Prepare a road of purple coverlets Where Justice leads to an unhoped-for home; And there the rest our sleep-unvanquished care Shall order justly, as the Gods ordain. AGAMEMNON: Daughter of Leda, guardian of my home, Your greeting was prolonged, proportionate To my long absence; but tributes of due praise Should come from other lips; and furthermore Seek not to unman me with effeminate 910 Graces and barbarous salaams agape In grovelling obeisance at my feet, Nor with
is also, in desiderating revenge, a paean of triumph, and the sobbing of Electra is like laughter (Libation Bearers 446). Though Clytemnestra insists that oil and vinegar do not mix, the snake that she suckles in her dream mixes milk with blood, the liquid of the closest intimacy with the blood that her own son will extract from her (Libation Bearers 531, 544). Even the cosmological opposites combine: fire and sea, previously enemies, form an alliance to destroy much of the returning Greek fleet
in Eumenides is the physical presence of Apollo and of the Erinyes, as it embodies the differentiation of opposed principles that allows the judicial differentiation of the acts of violence. But differentiation is only the necessary first step. Permanent escape from the cycle of violence, from the unity of opposites, requires reconciliation of the opposites in a new order. The chorus of the Agamemnon, in their anxiety as the king enters the house, invoke the idea, found in other ancient texts,
opposite, for it is not, Athena stresses, a defeat (for the Erinyes). It is the city of Athens that has won the victory.4 Despite the acquittal, the situation is still in the balance. Athena urges the Erinyes not to bring their anger down (the image is of inclining scales) on the city (889). They are persuaded by the offer of cult in Athens, promise blessings for the community, and are finally escorted in a torchlit procession to their new home under the Acropolis. And so the trilogy ends, as