Aeschylus Oresteia Themes

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Like many plays of the time, Aeschylus' Oresteia is a group of three tragedies that was written for a festival in Athens. However at the end of the third play, the Eumenides, there is no tragic ending, as Orestes survives the Furies and the curse is broken. All three plays, however, concern serious themes that create drama and intensity for Ancient Athenian audiences, that make them not only miserable but angry as well. Typically after these three very serious and sad plays, there would be a sort of comedy in order to lighten the mood, in this case called Proteus, but it has been lost over the years. These plays would be performed in front of Athenian audiences, at a festival, and so, as many of his contemporaries, Aeschylus wrote the plays…show more content…
Clytemnestra first acts as the perfect wife, greeting her husband who is returning from Troy and then she forces him to walk on red cloths to show his glory, which he does not want to do, because it will show him almost as a god. This ruse is kept up in order to "[catch her] hated enemy in the inescapable trap" (Ag. 1375) She had waited for over nine years to get justice for her daughter that Agamemnon had slaughtered simply to be able to get to the war more quickly. In these times as well, the women were much younger than the men they married, and they often did not love them, but that did not mean that they did not love their children. If anything, these women would cling to their children even more, as one of the only things they had some amount of control over. The character of justice that is evident here is that of a mother loving her children, and wanting them to prosper and never forgiving a husband that would destroy that bond between a mother and a child. However, the character of justice that is blindly evident in much of this story is that of revenge, as when a mother's child is taken away from her, she wants revenge. As Aegisthus says, the house of Atreus is still "paying the price for [Pelops'] father's revolting crime." (Ag. 1582) This suggests again that the house of Atreus is paying the price for killing family, and this is justice of the…show more content…
The Furies come after Orestes because he killed his mother, and that is not just, and so they want to kill him, even though he has cleansed himself of the sin, but they are persuaded to instead have a trial for Orestes decided based on a jury of Athenians and with Athena as the deciding vote. The Furies say that "blood must pay for blood," (Eum. 264) and this is the definition of justice that has been posited, however in this last play, this idea of justice does not come out on top. Instead, Athena decides to let Orestes go free, because he was only making his mother pay for the family blood that she spilt, and she convinces the Furies to let him go as well. Athena also states that "An oath must never triumph over justice," (Eum. 432) and in this she means that the oath that the Furies took to kill all of those who kill their mothers should not triumph over true justice, which she is aware of because she is the Goddess of wisdom. However, this trial scene also shows a weakness in the character of justice that has been posited, as it shows that at some point this attempt for revenge must be stopped, and that it is not always necessary to kill those who kill their own family. It is impossible, therefore for it to continue on forever, and it should not have to. Justice is also shown to be something that the gods have supreme control over, and the humans are just pawns in

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