Aeschylus: The Oresteia (Landmarks of World Literature by Simon Goldhill

By Simon Goldhill

Simon Goldhill makes a speciality of the play's themes--justice, sexual politics, violence, and the position of guy in historical Greek culture--in this common advent to Aeschylus' Oresteia, probably the most very important and influential of all Greek dramas. After exploring how Aeschylus constructs a fable for town during which he lived, a last bankruptcy considers the effect of the Oresteia on extra modern theater. The volume's prepared constitution and consultant to extra analyzing will make it a useful reference for college kids and academics. First variation Hb (1992): 0-521-40293-X First variation Pb (1992): 0-521-40853-9

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Extra resources for Aeschylus: The Oresteia (Landmarks of World Literature (New))

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I will just offer two of the many possible examples. The first is from the entrance of Agamemnon in the Agamemnon. I described above the preparation for his arrival as conqueror who has punished and as transgressor being led towards retribution. Here are his first words (Aga. 810–16): To Argos first and to the gods of the land It is right (dik¯e) I give due greeting; they have worked with me To bring me home. They helped me on the vengeance (dik¯e) I have wrought On Priam’s city. Not from the tongues of men the gods Heard justice (dik-) but in one unhesitating cast they laid Their votes within the urn of blood.

This strange status of Athene must be remembered when she gives her reasons for voting for Orestes – reasons which are instrumental in his preservation and thus the trilogy’s conclusion (Eum. 735–41): I will cast this vote for Orestes. For no mother exists who bore me. I favour the male in all things, except in attaining marriage, With all my spirit. I am wholly of the father. Thus I will not privilege the fate of a woman Who has killed her husband, the overseer of the house. Athene’s reasons start from the fact that she has no mother.

299– 305). He is fulfilling the god’s command to exact vengeance, but he is also being forced to kill within his own family. As he drives Clytemnestra to her death, he sums up his position in his final, climactic line with (Cho. ’ The logic of the double bind, of revenge and reversal, is starkly exposed. To punish wrong leads to doing wrong: not to punish wrong is also doing wrong. The doer suffers . . Indeed, when he, like his mother before him, appears above the corpses of his victims, Orestes in his turn moves from victor and punisher to victim and transgressor.

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