Chorus Intervention in Aeschylus' the Eumenides and Agamemnon Essay

Chorus Intervention in Aeschylus' the Eumenides and Agamemnon Essay

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In The Eumenides and Agamemnon of The Oresteia trilogy, Aeschylus constructs an over-arching metaphor for elements of the new Athenian democracy. The chorus in each play represents the people who feel under-represented and disrespected, by the society's changing values. In The Eumenides, the chorus of Furies is frustrated with the younger gods and infringements on their power; in Agamemnon the chorus fears more the control of an effective woman in Clytemnestra rather than the leadership of fruitless Agamemnon. Both choruses take direct actions thought to ensure their prominence.

Agamemnon picks of the story eponymous Greek king following the conclusion of the Trojan War. In his absence, his wife Clytemnestra has assumed the throne, and the polis has flourished under her. However, as a woman, Clytemnestra is nonetheless seen as unsuited to continue her reign given the morays of Argos. The chorus of Agamemnon relates with Clytemnestra and the thematic frustration with the control of women. Consisting of the bitter old men who were not allowed to go to the Trojan War, the chorus is opposes Clytemnestra's leadership as a woman for the sake of their own pride. They are relieved by Agamemnon's return, and see it as their salvation from being Argos' "dishonored ones." (Agamemnon, Ln. 79) Therefore they spend the play working to critique and delegitimize her reign, ultimately calling for her death for by Orestes hand.

The chorus views Agamemnon's return as "justice com[ing] to birth." (Agamemnon, Ln. 1001) Their surprising willingness to accept the loss of an entire generation of young Greek men in exchange for Agamemnon's return to the throne leaves no doubt about how crucial they believe the perseverance of older structures of po...


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...gic is working ... I can feel the hate, the fury slip away." (The Eumenides, Ln. 907) This magic is realization that Athena's offer ensures their continuing respect despite the trial's outcome, and that by reconciling themselves to it, they will retain some power.

In both The Eumenides and Agamemnon the choruses relate significantly to the actions and characters in each tragedy. While the characteristics and constituents of each chorus differ, both represent the groups left behind in a new era of government. The completion of The Oresteia shows the transformation of power both within the context of the plays and contemporary Greek society which was changing to a new democratic system. The struggle to retain power and tradition in changing governments is consistent throughout history, and clearly exemplified through the battles of the choruses of The Oresteia.

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