The Oresteia, Aeschylus Essay

The Oresteia, Aeschylus Essay

Length: 870 words (2.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In “The Oresteia” trilogy, the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus advocates the importance of the male role in society over that of the female.  The entire trilogy can be seen as a subtle proclamation of the superiority of men over women. Yet, the women create the real interest in the plays.  Their characters are the impetus that makes everything occur.
 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...


... middle of paper ...


...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.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Powerful Clytemnestra in Aeschylus' Oresteia

- The Powerful Clytemnestra in Aeschylus' Oresteia What Price Glory. was the title of a Maxwell Anderson play about World War I. Although the Oresteia deals with the period following a much different war, the same question can be asked of it. In the trilogy Aeschylus presents the reader with a stunning example of ancient Greek society, in which warrior ideals were firmly held, and glory in battle was considered the supreme good. The question of moral justification in the trilogy brings in many complex issues, but all of them revolve around the construction of Greek society and the role of different individuals in this system....   [tags: Aeschylus Oresteia]

Better Essays
2076 words (5.9 pages)

Justice in Aeschylus' The Oresteia Essay

- Justice in Aeschylus' The Oresteia How can an endless and violently destructive cycle be just. The concept appears in places along the human timeline as diverse as the Bible and West Side Story. Why do people have a tendency to amplify and repeat violence through a cycle of murder and revenge, and how can this destructive process be called justice. In The Oresteia, the cycle is a familiar one, but is also interweaved with gender issues and a sense of justice that changes within the cycle itself....   [tags: Aeschylus Oresteia]

Better Essays
1534 words (4.4 pages)

Essay on Eumenides - Resolution of Conflict in Aeschylus' Oresteia

- The Resolution of Conflict in Aeschylus' Oresteia       Aeschylus, was a master dramatist - he liked to portray conflict between persons, human or divine, or between principles.1 His trilogy of plays, the Oresteia, develops many conflicts that must be resolved during the action of the Eumenides, the concluding play of the trilogy. The central theme of the Oresteia is justice (dike) and in dealing with questions of justice, Aeschylus at every stage involves the gods.2 The Oresteia's climactic conflict in the Eumenides revolves around justice and the gods - opposing conceptions of justice and conflicting classes of gods....   [tags: Aeschylus Oresteia]

Better Essays
1871 words (5.3 pages)

Essay on Eumenides - Importance of Gender in Aeschylus' Oresteia

- The Importance of Gender in Aeschylus' Oresteia          Gender is made explicit as a theme throughout the Oresteia through a series of male-female conflicts and incorrectly gendered characters dominated by the figure of Clytemnestra, a woman out of place. This opposition of gender then engenders all the other oppositions of the trilogy; conflicts of oikos and polis, chthonic and Olympian, old and young can be assigned to female and male spheres respectively.  In this essay I will look at how the polis examines itself in terms of gender by focusing on the Eumenides' exploration of the myth of matriarchy, issues of the conflict between oikos and polis and the use of speech within the polis....   [tags: Aeschylus Oresteia]

Better Essays
3666 words (10.5 pages)

Essay on Oresteia - The Issue of Justice in Aeschylus' Eumenides

- Oresteia - The Issue of Justice in Aeschylus' Eumenides The concept of justice is manifested through the three plays of Aeschylus' Oresteia. The old tradition of justice, the private blood feud, caused an ungoverned succession of violent acts that spiralled uncontrollably. Aegisthus, Clytemnestra's lover, is introduced in Agamemnon; he desires vengeance for the plot contrived by Agamemnon's father (Ag: 1605-1611).1 Neither Agamemnon nor Aegisthus took part in this "plot" and yet as the chorus explains (Ag: 755-6) 'But ancient Violence longs to breed, new violence comes when its fatal hour comes,' The justice system of this period demanded that one avenge the death of a family me...   [tags: Aeschylus Oresteia]

Better Essays
2472 words (7.1 pages)

The Oresteia by Aeschylus: Guilty or Innocent Essay

- When a person is accused of a crime they are either found innocent or guilty. This is the basic idea of justice and it is what many feel needs to happen if someone has done something controversial. In the play The Oresteia by Aeschylus, the story of Clytemnestra guilt or innocents is questioned. She does many things that people are not too happy with and those controversial actions throughout the story, mainly in the first part Agamemnon get her into the trouble. As we explore the case that builds against her innocents by exploring the killings of Agamemnon and Cassandra and the boastful expression about the killings....   [tags: Oresteia Aeschylus]

Free Essays
1104 words (3.2 pages)

Essay about Justice and Aeschylus' Oresteia

- Justice and Aeschylus' Oresteia        At first glance, the picture of justice found in the Oresteia appears very different from that found in Heraclitus. And indeed, at the surface level there are a number of things which are distinctly un-Heraclitean. However, I believe that a close reading reveals more similarities than differences; and that there is a deep undercurrent of the Heraclitean world view running throughout the trilogy. In order to demonstrate this, I will first describe those ways in which the views of justice in Aeschylus' Oresteia and in Heraclitus appear dissimilar....   [tags: Oresteia Essays]

Free Essays
3391 words (9.7 pages)

The Oresteia, Aeschylus Essay

- In “The Oresteia” trilogy, the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus advocates the importance of the male role in society over that of the female. The entire trilogy can be seen as a subtle proclamation of the superiority of men over women. Yet, the women create the real interest in the plays. Their characters are the impetus that makes everything occur. 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....   [tags: The Oresteia Trilogy]

Better Essays
870 words (2.5 pages)

Essay about The Imagery of Bloodshed in The Oresteia

- The Imagery of Bloodshed in The Oresteia   In the prologue of Agamemnon, the first play of Aeschylus' trilogy, The Oresteia, the watchman implores the gods for "a blessed end to all our pain." (20). He is asking for deliverance from the retributive system of justice, where the only certainty is that bloodshed breeds more bloodshed. The old men of the chorus in their opening chant, "Hymn to Zeus," declare that suffering must be experienced before man can be released from this ceaseless irredeemable bloodshed and thus be, "free from all the pain." (1) They declare that it is a law laid down by Zeus "that we must suffer, suffer into truth./ We cannot sleep, and drop by drop a...   [tags: Aeschylus Oresteia]

Better Essays
3451 words (9.9 pages)

Justice and Social Order in The Oresteia Essay

- Justice and Social Order in The Oresteia   Democracy, emerging in the city-state of Athens, allowed unprecedented power to her citizens. Among these new powers was the ability to legislate. Yet, legislation was not without its problems. First the citizens must agree upon what is just and unjust, and then enforce the law by bringing the unjust to reconcile their guilt with the public through trial, and finally dispense the appropriate penalty. This evolution was not without concern. The Greeks were attempting to establish a governmental system which would span the middle ground between anarchy and despotism....   [tags: Aeschylus Oresteia]

Better Essays
1154 words (3.3 pages)