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Oresteia


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A trilogy of plays by Aeschylus.

Agamemnon describes the return to Argos after the Trojan war of the victorious Agamemnon, brother of Helen's husband Menelaus, and his murder by his wife Clytemnestra foretold by his captive, the prophet Cassandra, daughter of King Priam of Troy. The Choephoroe (or The Libation Bearers) portrays the vengeance of the son and daughter of Agamemnon, Orestes and Electra: Orestes murders Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus, and is himself pursued by the Eumenides, or Furies. The Eumenides shows the Furies in pursuit of Orestes, who is protected by the younger god Apollo. Orestes is tried, Athena, goddess of wisdom, delivers her casting vote on his behalf, and he goes free, released from the ancient blood vengeance: Athena reconciles the Furies to the new Law, and they are transformed into the Kindly Ones, who bless the city of Athens and the land.

Other versions of the story appear in the works of Sophocles (who wrote Electra) and Euripides, and it reappears in many forms throughout Western literature; there are notable 20th‐cent. dramatic versions by T. S. Eliot (The Family Reunion, 1939), O'Neill (Mourning Becomes Electra, 1931), and Sartre (Les Mouches, 1942).

Subjects: Literature — Religion.


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