Summary of Oresteia
The most powerful king in the last generation of Greek heroes was Agamemnon, ruler of Argos. This he commanded all the Greek troops in the Trojan War, quarreled and reconciled with Achilles in the Iliad, and then defeated and ravaged Troy. But his fate was terrible, and the fate of his son Orestes is even worse. They had to commit crimes and pay for crimes – their own and others’.
Agamemnon’s father Atrei brutally fought for power with his brother Fisto. In this struggle, Fiestas deceived Atreus’ wife, and Atreus killed two young children of Fiest for this and fed his father about them with meat. (About this cannibal feast later Seneca will write the tragedy “Fiest.”) For this, a terrible curse fell on Atreia and his family. The third son of the Fiestas, named Aegisthus, escaped and grew up in a foreign land, thinking only of one thing: revenge for his father.
Atreus had two sons: heroes of the Trojan War
Two avengers find each other: Aegisthus and Clytemnestra become lovers and ten years, while the war drags on, waiting for the return of Agamemnon. At last Agamemnon returns, triumphant, and then revenge overtakes him. When he is washed in
Orestes has grown and comes to take revenge. With him, his Phocis friend Pylad – their names became in the myth are inseparable. They pretend to be the travelers who brought the message, at once sad and joyful: if Oreste had died in a foreign land, as if no revenge was threatened by Aegisfu and Clytemnestra. They are admitted to the king and the queen, and here Orestes fulfills his terrible duty: he kills first his stepfather, and then his own mother.
Who will now continue this chain of deaths, who will take revenge on Orestes? Egistef and Clytemnestroy did not have any avenger children. And then the goddesses of vengeance, the monstrous Erinnia, come to Orestes;
They send madness to him, he rushes in despair throughout Greece and finally falls to the god Apollo: “You sent me to revenge, you and save me from vengeance.” God is against the goddesses:
They – for the ancient belief that the maternal relationship is more important than the father’s, he – for a new belief that the paternal relationship is more important than the mother. Who will judge the gods? People. In Athens, under the supervision of the goddess Athena (she is a woman like Erinnia, and she is courageous like Apollo), the elders’ court is going to decide and: Orestes is right, he must be cleansed from sin, and Erinium, in order to propitiate them, the sanctuary in Athens will be erected, where they will be honored under the name of Evmenid, which means “The Blessed Goddess.”
According to these myths, the playwright Aeschylus wrote his trilogy “Oresteia” – three continuing tragedies: “Agamemnon”, “Khoefor”, “Evmenidy”.
“Agamemnon” is the longest tragedy of three. It begins unusually. In Argos, on the flat roof of the royal palace, lies the sentinel slave and looks at the horizon: when Troy falls, a fire will be lit on the nearby mountain, it will be seen across the sea on another mountain and lighted second, then the third, and so the fiery news will reach Argos: victory won, soon will be home Agamemnon. He waits without sleep for ten years under the heat and cold – and here the fire breaks out, the sentinel jumps up and runs to inform Queen Clytemnestra, though she feels: this news is not good.
The choir of the Argos elders enters: they still do not know anything. They remember in the long song all the evils of the war – and the treachery of Paris, and the betrayal of Elena, and the sacrifice of Iphigenia, and the present unjust power in Argos: why all this? It is evident that this is the world law: you are not hurt, you will not learn. They repeat the refrain:
“Woe, woe, alas, but let the good to victory.” And prayer seems to come true: Clytemnestra comes out of the palace and declares: “Goodness is victory!” – Troy is taken, heroes return, and who is righteous – to that good return, and who is guilty – to that unkind.
The choir responds with a new song: in it gratitude to the gods for victory and anxiety for the victorious leaders. Because it’s hard to be righteous – take measures: Troy fell for pride, now we would not fall into pride ourselves: a little happiness is more true than the big one. And for sure: it is the messenger of Agamemnon, confirms the victory, remembers ten years of torment at Troy and talks about the storm on the way back, when all the sea “blossomed corpses” – evidently, there were many unrighteous people. But Agamemnon is alive, near and great, like a god. The choir sings again, how guilt will bear the guilt, and again the curator of the war curses Elena, the sister of Clytemnestra.
And finally Agamemnon enters with the captives. He really is great, like a god: “With me a victory: be it with me and here!” Clytemnestra, leaning down, pours a purple rug. He recoiled: “I am a man, and only God honors purple.” But she quickly persuades him, and Agamemnon enters the palace in purple, and Clytemnestra enters with him with an ambiguous prayer: “O Zeus the Perfector, do everything, I pray!” The measure is exceeded: the payoff is approaching. The chorus sings of a vague premonition of trouble. And he hears an unexpected response: on the stage there remains a captive of Agamemnon, the Trojan princess Kassandra, Apollo once loved her and gave her the gift of prophecy, but she rejected Apollo, and for this her prophecies no one believes. Now she screams screaming at the past and future of the Argos home: the people’s slaughter, the eaten babies, the net and the ax, drunk blood, own death, the chorus of Erinny and the son who executes the mother! Horus is scared. And then Agamemnon groans from behind the stage: “O horror, in the house your ax smashes! .. Oh grief me! Another blow: life goes.” What to do?
In the inner chambers of the palace lie the corpses of Agamemnon and Cassandra, above them – Clytemnestra. “I lied, I was cunning – now I’m telling the truth.” Instead of secret hatred, open revenge: for a murdered daughter, for a captive concubine, and avenging Erinnia for me! ” The choir in horror cries for the king and curses the villain: the demon of revenge has settled in the house, there is no end to misfortune. Alongside Clytemnestra, Aegisthus rises: “My strength, my truth, my revenge for the Fiestas and his children!” The elders from the choir go to Aegisthus with their naked swords, Aegisthus calls the watchman, Clytemnestra separates them: “So much is the harvest of death-let the impotent bark, and our business reign!” The first tragedy is the end.
The action of the second tragedy – eight years later: Orestes grew up and, accompanied by Pilad comes revenge. He leans over the tomb of Agamemnon and, as a token of faithfulness, puts a cut strand of his hair on her. And then he hides, because he sees the approaching choir.
These are hoofors, the performers of libations, – they are called tragedy. Infusions of water, wine and honey were made on graves to honor the deceased. Clytemnestra continues to fear Agamemnon and the dead, she has terrible dreams, so she sent here with the libations of her slaves, led by Electra, sister of Orestes. They love Agamemnon, hate Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, they yearn for Orestes: “May I not be like my mother,” Elektra says, “and let Orestes return for revenge for his father!” But maybe he’s back already? Here on the grave is a strand of hair – a color in color with the hair of Elektra; here in front of the grave footprint – a trace in the footprint of Elektra’s leg. Electra with chaos does not know what to think. And then Orestes comes to them.
Recognition is quick: of course, Elektra does not believe at first, but Orestes shows her: “Here are my hair: put a lock to my head and you will see where it is cut off, here is my cloak – you wove it to me when I was still a child “. Brother and sister hug each other: “We are together, with us is true, and above us is Zeus!” The truth of Zeus, the command of Apollo and the will to revenge connect them against the common offender – Clytemnestra and her Aegisthus. Calling the choir, they pray to the gods for help. Clytemnestra dreamed that she had given birth to a snake and a snake stung her in the chest? May this dream come true! Oreste tells Elektra and the choir how he will enter the palace to the evil queen; the choir responds with a song about evil women of the past – about wives, jealousy who killed all the men on the island of Lemnos, about Skille, for the sake of the lover’s murdered father, about Alfea, who,
The embodiment of the idea begins: Orestes and Pylades, disguised as wanderers, knock on the palace. Clytemnestra comes to them. “I was going through Phocis,” says Orestes, “and they told me: tell Argos that Orestes is dead, if they want, let them send for the dust.” Clytemnestra cries out: she feels sorry for her son, she wanted to save him from Aegisthus, but she did not save her from death. The unrecognized Orestes with Pylades enter the house. The growth of tragedy is interrupted by an almost comic episode: the old nurse Oreste weeps in front of the choir, as she loved his baby, and fed, and drank, and washed the diapers, and now he died. “Do not cry – maybe not dead!” says the eldest in the choir. The hour is near, the choir calls on Zeus: “Help!”; to ancestors: “Change anger to mercy!”; to Orestes: “Be strong, if a mother screams:” son! “- you answer her:” Father!
Is Aegisthe: believe or disbelieve the news? He enters the palace, the choir freezes, and a shock and groan come from the palace. Clytemnestra runs out, behind her is Orestes with a sword and Pilad. She reveals her breasts: “Have pity on me, I nursed you with this breast, I cradled you with this breast.” Orestes are scary. “Pilad, what should I do?” he asks. And Pilad, who had not said a word, said: “And the will of Apollo, and your vows?” More Orestes do not hesitate. “This fate judged me to kill my husband!” cried Clytemnestra. “And me – you,” – answers Orestes. “You, son, will you kill me, mother?” “You are your own killer.” “The mother’s blood will avenge you!” “The blood of my father is more terrible.” Orestes leads the mother into the house – to be executed. The chorus sings in confusion: “The will of Apollo is for the mortal law, evil soon passes by.”
The interior of the palace is revealed, the corpses of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus lie, above them – Orestes, stunning with the bloody veil of Agamemnon. He already feels the impotent approach of Erinny. He says: “Apollo told me to avenge my father, kill my mother, Apollo promised me to cleanse me of bloody sin.” I will go to his altar as a wandering petitioner with arms in my hands, and you will witness my grief. ” He runs away, the chorus sings: “Will something happen?” This ends the second tragedy.
The third tragedy, “Evmenidy”, begins before the temple of Apollo in Delphi, where the middle of the earth’s circle; This temple belonged first to the Gee-Earth, then to Themis-Justice, now Apollo-Broadcasting. At the altar – Orestes with a sword and an olive branch of the petitioner; around the choir Erinny, the daughters of the Night, black and monstrous. They sleep: it was Apollo who brought a dream to them to rescue Orestes. Apollo says to him: “Run, cross the earth and the sea, get to Athens, there will be a trial.” “Remember me!” – Orest begs. “I remember,” replies Apollo. Orestes escapes.
It is the shadow of Clytemnestra. She calls out to Eriniyas: “Here is my wound, here is my blood, and you are asleep: where is your vengeance?” Erinnia awakened and cursed Apollo in vain: “You save the sinner, you destroy the eternal Truth, the younger gods trample the elders!” Apollo accepts the challenge: there is a first, still short dispute. “He killed his mother!” “And she killed her husband.” – “Husband to wife – not blood: maternity is more terrible than homicide.” “A husband to his wife is native to the law, the son of the mother is native by nature, and the law is everywhere unified, and in nature is not more sacred than in the family and society.” So Zeus put it, having entered into a legal marriage with his Hero. ” – “Well, you – with young gods, we – with the old!” And they rush away, to Athens: Erinnia – to destroy Orestes, Apollo – to save Orestes.
The action is transferred to Athens: Orestes sits in front of the goddess’s temple, embracing her idol, and calling out to her court, Erinnia singing around him the famous “knitting song”: “We are following a bloody law: who shed his own blood – that will pay his own way, otherwise he will not We run after him, he goes to Hades – we follow him, that’s the voice of the old Truth! ” Athena appears from the temple:
“It is not for me to judge you: whom I will condemn, he will become an enemy to the Athenians, and I do not want this, let the best of the Athenians make the court themselves, they will make their own choice.” The chorus of anxiety: what will people decide? Do not collapse the ancient order?
Judges come out – the Athenian elders; behind them – Athena, before them – on the one hand Erinnia, on the other – Orestes and his mentor Apollo. The second, main dispute begins. “You killed your mother.” “And she killed her husband.” “A husband is not his own blood for a wife.” – “I’m such a mother – also not my own blood.” – “He renounced the relationship!” “And he’s right,” Apollo interferes, “the father is his son’s kin than his mother: the father conceives the fruit, the mother only breeds it in the womb.” The father and without the mother can give birth: here is Athena, without a mother born from the head of Zeus! ” – “Turn the court” – says Athena to the elders. One by one they vote, dropping pebbles into bowls: into the cup of condemnation, into the cup of justification. Count: the votes are divided equally. “Then I also submit my voice,” says Athena, “and I am presenting for an excuse:
Apollo with a victory, Orestes with gratitude leave the stage. Before Athena remain Erinnia. They are in a frenzy: the ancient foundations are breaking down, people are trampling upon the birth laws, how to punish them? Should I send famine, plague, death to the Athenians? “It is not necessary,” convinces them Athena, “Mercy is above embitterment: send fertility to the Athenian land, the Athenian families have many children, the Athenian state has a fortress.” The vengeance of the chain of murders undermines the state from within, and the state must be strong to withstand external enemies. “Be merciful to the Athenians, and the Athenians will eternally honor you as “The Blessed Goddesses” – Eumenidus, and your sanctuary will be between the hill where my temple stands and the hill where this court judges. ” And the chorus gradually calms down, takes a new place of honor, blesses the Athenian land: “Away from strife, let there be no blood for blood,