The most complex and compelling character in the three plays is Clytaemnestra. Clytaemnestra is consumed with thoughts of revenge. She seeks vengeance on Agamemnon for the loss of their daughter, Iphigeneia whose life was forfeited in order to appease the goddess Artemis so that Agamemnon's troops would be allowed passage to the Trojan shore. Clytaemnestra displays more intelligence than any other character in The Oresteia in the way she manipulates the events leading up to Agamemnon's execution in the play "Agamemnon." Her scheming ways and clever word play make her intimidating in the eyes of the people of Argos. She is looked upon with revulsion because of the manly way she acts. The chorus leader states in line 35 "spoken like a man, my lady, loyal, full of self-command." (Aeschylus 116). Odysseus of the quick wits was held in high esteem for such craftiness, yet intelligence and wit, while exulted in a man, are threatening characteristics in a woman. In the kingdom, Clytaemnestra has been having an open affair with Aegisthus. The chorus, who acts as the voice of the common man, and therefore the voice of morality, condemn her for this affair even though it is common practice for men in ancient Greece to have many extramarital affairs themselves. In this way Aeschylus condones the double-standards thrust upon the...
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...er than that of woman. Athena has the final vote in the trial of Orestes and she casts her lot for him with these words in lines 751-754, "No mother gave me birth./ I honour the male, in all things but marriage./ Yes, with all my heart I am my Father's child./ I cannot set more store by the woman's death" (Aeschylus 264). As the final victory of the male sphere over that of the female sphere, Athena domesticates the Furies in the final pages of the last play of the trilogy and consigns them to the "traditional" feminine role in society while she takes on the more prestigious, man's role of the diplomat.
Although the women are considered inferior in The Oresteia, they are actually the backbone of the entire trilogy. Without a character like Clytaemnestra, the plays would have lacked complexity and intrigue.
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