Fate of destruction
Oresteia is a three-part book that consists of Greek tragedies. The trilogy begins with Agamemnon, where Agamemnon returns from the Trojan war. Clytemnestra is planning on avenging the death of her daughter. By the end of the play, Clytemnestra kills Agamemnon in his bathtub. In the second play, Women at the Graveside, Orestes returns to Argos after being exiled for years. He plans on avenging his father’s death. He reunites with Electra at Agamemnon’s grave where they both agree to the plan to kill Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. The play concludes with Orestes killing both Aegisthus and Clytemnestra. In the final play, The Eumenides, Orestes flees Argo with Apollo’s help. He heads to Athens and pleads for help from Athena. He then goes to court where it is tied if Orestes should stay alive. Athena ultimately is the last vote that decides that Orestes should not be killed. Throughout the plays there is a variety of unique writing styles that further develop the plot.
In Women at the Graveside, there are many writing tones and elements that develop the mood of the play. A particular quote from the chorus that seems intriguing and sets the tone is “There’s a rule that lays it down that spattering of life-blood spilling on the ground must summon further bloodshed. Murder calls upon an Erinys to draw on deadly retribution for the murdered” (Aeschylus 69). This quote occurs in scene 4 takes place at the grave where Electra, Orestes, and the Chorus all discuss what has happened and what they wished would have occurred. Orestes wishes that Agamemnon was killed at war rather than his murderous wife, while Electra wishes Agamemnon was never killed and that Aegisthus and Clytemnestra would have left Argos together and died. The chorus replies that would have been lovely, but it is just wishful thinking and continue to plan their revenge. This quote sets the tone for the rest of the play. The chorus uses words and phrases such as bloodshed, Erinys, deadly, murder, and life-blood spilling. Bloodshed and life-blood spilling allows the reader to visualize what was seen at Agamemnon’s murder seen. It also allows the reader to visualize what Electra and Orestes will create. Murder, deadly, and Erinys contextualize what Electra and Orestes are trying to cause and create with their plan to avenge their father’s murder. Erinys in Greek mythology means a Fury, which is what Electra and Orestes are contributing to. All those words allow the reader to have a dark mood
Furthermore, the quote foreshadows what is going to happen. Life-blood spilling illustrates what is happening throughout the trilogy. The life-blood spilling began even before the trilogy began with the murder of Clytemnestra’s daughter. In the first play Agamemnon the life-blood spilling continues when Clytemnestra and Aegisthus kill Agamemnon and the chorus is foreshadowing that the life-blood spilling will continue in Women in the Graveside. It foreshadows a fate of destruction. There will continue to be murder and bloodshed until the cycle ends. The cycle of vengeance and vendetta will continue. First with Clytemnestra avenging the murder of her daughter, Electra, and Orestes avenging the murder of their father, and someone else avenging Clytemnestra’s and Aegisthus’ murder and so on.
Throughout the trilogy, multiple quotes that use different writing elements to further develop the theme, mood, tone, etc. There are multiple themes develop but it was intriguing how the theme fate of destruction was developed but just one quote by the Chorus in the middle of the trilogy.
Close reading 1 on The Oresteia
Aeschylus, et al. The Oresteia: The Texts of the Plays, Ancient Backgrounds and Responses, Criticism. Norton, 2018.