Prologue: The Watchman on the roof of the Palace of Agamemnon at Mycenae presents the facts. He has been watching a year for the fire signal that will announce Troy's capture, and all is not well within the house. He sees the beacon at last and will tell Clytemnestra, Agamemnon's wife. He rejoices at the news for it means his master will be coming home.
Parodos or Entry of the Choros, who are Elders of Argos, counsellors to the Queen Regent. They chant about the expedition against Troy. The sons of Atreus (Agamemnon and Menelaus) are seen as birds whose nest has been robbed by the stealing of Helen. Par is who stole her thereby offended against Zeus, the God of the host and guest. With legal images the old men say that Paris will be punished. They themselves were too old to go to war ten years ago; like the old man in the Sphynx's riddle they lean on staffs. Clytemnestra enters with slaves to make sacrifice at the altars; the choros ask her why sacrifices are being made but she ignores them and does not answer.
The choros continue with the first Ode, a song about Aulis and what happened there, The omen of the pregnant hare attacked by the eagles: Calchas the prophet interpreted it to mean that Troy would fall but that the goddess Artemis will try to prevent the destruction of Troy. The sons of Atreus, he said, must not annoy the gods. There will be ominous sacrifice; the refrain to this Ode is "Sing sorrow, sorrow, but may the good prevail!" (Almost a summary of the Oresteia).
Hymn to Zeus: A special appeal to the god who, as the third in succession of father gods triumphed over a more primitive past. The choros say that man learns by suffering and that is Zeus' rule.
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...ved up as food to their father -but he does not mention what his father had done to bring down this fate. He claims he planned Agamemnon's murder to pay back Agamemnon's father. The Choros express their disapproval -Aigisthus too will have to pay.
He threatens them with repression -but has armed men with him like a tyrant. They will not be silent but defy him and there is a slanging match in which they call him a coward hiding behind Clytemnestra. They hope Orestes will come back and make him pay. He orders his guards forward and the Choros prepare to resist with their staves but Clytemnestra steps forward to stop both sides from fighting. She sends the Elders home and pacifies Aigisthus with difficulty. Even so the Choros get the last word abusing Aigisthus as they go off.
Clytemnestra ends the play by saying that she and Aigisthus will rule jointly and by force.
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