Orestes: son of Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra, brother of Electra.

When Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Ipheginia to the gods for success in the Trojan War, Clytaemnestra sought revenge. First, she took up a younger, more caring lover. Then, when Agamemnon came home (with Cassandra forced into being his concubine), she killed him.

Electra convinces her younger brother Orestes to then kill their mother Clytaemnestra as revenge. He does so, but is tormented by the Harpies for the sin of matricide. He is then taken before the court of Olympus, and put on trial. Arguing against him is Athena, goddess of wisdom. In his defence is Apollo, god of sun, medicine, etc. Athena makes a good argument that this is matricide, a crime punishable by eternal torment in Tartarus.

However, Apollo makes the following argument: a human is only the offspring of the father, of his seed. The woman is merely an incubator for this seed, and contributes no genetic material (they didn't call it that, but that's what is essentially meant). Since there is nothing of the mother in the child, the child has no obligations to this biped hot-house, and Orestes cannot have committed matricide. A child's duty is to his father, not his mother. With this argument, Orestes is freed from his sin, and women are further considered merely a baby factory.

Long life Clytaemnestra!

As I recall, Orestes fled from the Furies in the play The Eumenides. The Furies, as embodiments of revenge or primitive justice were angry at him for killing his mother, Clytaemnestra, and demanded that he be turned over to them for execution.

Athena acted as a judge in the trial, she respected the arguments of both sides, the arguments of Apollo and the leader of the Furies. (In the text I have, it was translated as Furies.

Euripides' play, Orestes, transcends the Greecian categories of tragedy and comedy at the time of 408 B.C. Orestes; his sister, Electra; and his friend, Pylades, had committed matricide, after Oreste's mother, Clytaemnestra, took her husband's life. They are descended from a royal family with a similar history of atrocious crimes committed against one another. Orestes himself is sick with madness, and the other two support him dutifully. They all wait anxiously on the vote of the council who will decide whether they live or die. Most of their family - which includes the famous Helen of Troy, their uncle, and their grandfather - wish to see them dead. The vote goes against them, influenced by the paramour of Oreste's mother. Instead of resigning themselves to their fate, they suddenly choose instead to take vengeance on the villified Helen and kill her, and then take her daughter, Hermione, hostage to try to sway their uncle from claiming their familial heritage. Orestes and Pylades try to murder Helen, but she disappears at the last moment. They quickly move to take Hermione hostage, but Apollo appears in the nick on time in the classic deus ex machina fashion. He reveals their true fates to them: Helen was taken by the gods to live with them on Mount Olympus, Hermione will be betrothed to Orestes, Orestes must be exiled and the gods will rig the case so he is free, and their uncle will allow Orestes to rule part of the land and he the other peacefully. They all accept this without question. Far from being erroneously written, the characters are deliberately exaggerated to become something of a tragic comedy before the official genre arose.


I would like to thank www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~loxias/orestes.htm for supplying the translation.

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