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An ancient Greek mythical character. Her mother, Clytaemnestra, murdered her father Agamemnon, for which Electra hated her. In contrast to the Oedipus story, Electra is not sexually attracted to her father.


Several characters of this name figure in mythology

  1. The earliest was one of the daughters of Oceanus and Tethys, who married Thaumas and then gave birth to Iris, the messenger of the gods, and to the Harpies. Electra was one of Persephone's companions, and was present when she was carried off by Hades.

  2. One of the PLEIADES, the seven daughters of Pleione, who lived on Samothrace. Zeus fathered her child Dardanus (Table 7), who left Samothrace and went to the Troad, where he founded the royal dynasty of Troy.

    Electra had another son, Iasion, whose legend is linked to those surrounding Cybele and Demeter. Electra is also said to have had a third son named Emathion, who ruled over Samothrace, but more frequently this third child of hers by Zeus is named as Harmonia, though conflicting accounts claim that Harmonia's parents were Ares and Aphrodite. In the Italian version of Electra's legend, she was the wife of the Etruscan king Corythus, and Dardanus and Iasion were born in Italy.

    Electra is also linked to the legend of the PALLADIUM. When Zeus attempted to rape her she sought refuge close to the divine statue, but in vain; in his anger Zeus threw the Palladium from the vault of Heaven. The statue landed in the Troad and was preserved in a temple at Troy. In other versions Electra herself brought the statue to Dardanus to provide protection for Troy. She was later transformed with her sisters into the constellation of the Pleiades.

  3. The most famous Electra was the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra (Table 2). She is not mentioned by Homer; but in the work of later poets she gradually replaced Laodice, one of Agamemnon's daughters, whose name was not mentioned thereafter. After Agamemnon was murdered by Aegisthus and Clytemnestra, Electra, who had barely escaped death herself, was treated as a slave; she was saved only by the intercession of her mother. According to some accounts, it was Electra who saved the infant Orestes from the murderers and secretly entrusted him to their old tutor, who took him far away from Mycenae. To prevent Electra from giving birth to a son who could avenge Agamemnon's murder, Aegisthus gave her in marriage to a peasant who lived far from the city. According to other authors, however, Electra, who had once been betrothed to Castor and then promised to Polymestor, was imprisoned in the plaza at Mycenae after the murder.

    On Orestes' return, she recognized her brother at their father's tomb and together they plotted the assassination of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. Electra played an active part in the double murder and afterwards, when Orestes was being pursued by the Erinyes for his crime, she devoted herself to his welfare.

    Electra figures in several episodes in the legend of Orestes as developed by the tragedians. In Euripides' Orestes she shared her brother's tribulations and fought at his side against the hostility of the populace, who wished to condemn the murderers to death. In Sophocles' tragedy Aletes, which is now lost, Electra was the principal figure. According to Sophocles' play, when Orestes and Pylades went to Tauris in search of the statue of Taurian Artemis it was rumoured at Mycenae that they had died, and that Iphigenia herself had killed her brother. Aegisthus' son Aletes immediately assumed the throne. Electra then went to Delphi, where she met Iphigenia who had come there with Orestes; Electra wished to punish her sister, and was about to blind her with a blazing brand when she suddenly glimpsed her brother. Electra and Orestes returned to Mycenae where they killed Aletes. Orestes married Hermione, Helen's daughter; Electra married Pylades and accompanied him to Phocis; their children were Medon and Strophius.


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