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Boston College
Honors Program
HONR 1101

Emily McClure The Oresteia Acts I & II As I read the first two plays of The Oresteia, I tried to focus on the similarities and differences of Aeschylus’and Homer’s writing. I found quite a few similarities between the two versions of the Greek stories and also a couple differences. To begin, in both versions of the story the authors include the involvement of the gods, the use of birds (especially eagles) as signs or prophecies, and also the power of fate. In addition, itAeschylus sometimes write with a similar style to Homer. For example, in “Agamemnon”, Aeschylus provides the audience with a view of a character’s internal conflict and train of thought: “If I [Agamemnon] obey the goddess, and kill my daughter- / What do I become?A monster to myself, to the whole world /And to all future time, a monster… But if I deny the goddess, then what happens? / Will it be worse? /An utter defeat / For us all.And for me- / disaster” (I, page 15).* Here the audience sees Agamemnon’s thought process as he faces a difficult decision. This reminds me of when Homer similarly writes about Agenor’s thought process while he is internally conflicted on how to faceAkhilleus (The Iliad, Book XXI, 640-660). Some differences I found in their styles of writing and their stories include the view of humility, the emphasis on justice, and the perspective onAgamemnon. In The Oresteia, it seems as though the quality of humbleness is much more respected than in either of Homer’s works. In The Odyssey and The Iliad, pride and confidence was much more respected and highly regarded, butAeschylus portrays a different view. To demonstrate, whenAgamemnon returns home, he does not show the same hubris attitude as the Homeric heroes. In fact, he is so humble that Clytemnestra chastises him for it. He says, “And do not spread these purple cloths / That should be spread only for the gods… Do not spread them for me. / Greet me as a man” (I, 44). Next, Homer does emphasize the idea of justice in his poems, but he focuses more on fate and the favor of the gods. In The Oresteia, Aeschylus uses the word justice forty-six times to rationalize and explain pretty much everything that happens.Also, I got the impression thatAgamemnon is more well-received in The Oresteia than in Homer’s poems
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