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Oresteia-_Eumenides (1).docx

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Boston College
Honors Program
HONR 1101

Emily McClure The Oresteia: The Eumenides In the last act of The Oresteia, the immortal characters (Apollo,Athena, and the Furies) finally interact more with the mortals. They are not very prominent characters in the first two acts, but they control the stage and most definitely set the pace in the last one. Each of those three immortals attempts to assert their power to achieve their version of justice in order to resolve the cyclical curse on the House ofAtreus. Apollo seeks to resolve the curse on the House ofAtreus by acting as Orestes’ advocate or lawyer and making his case toAthena, the goddess of wisdom. In this way, he does not necessarily try to directly resolve it because he hands over the decision to Athena.Apollo’s idea of justice is contradictory to that of the Furies. He thinks that Orestes was achieving justice when he killed his mother and avenged his father because it was promoted byApollo’s oracle, and that the cycle and the curse should end there. Apollo says, “The two deaths – OfAgamemnon and of Clytemnestra –Are utterly different from each other. He [Agamemnon] was a King, invested in divine right” (III, 179) and thusApollo does not consider the other side of the case: Clytemnestra’s and the Furies’. I thinkAeschylus regards this viewpoint as faulty because it does not take in to account the other party’s argument whatsoever. This is recognized and made very clear by the Furies who refuse to accept this concept of justice.Apollo argues for a verdict that opposes the values of the Furies. Looking at the end of the play – which finishes with an all-pleasing, rational verdict made byAthena and her court, I think thatAeschylus regards Apollo’s attempt as unreasonable. It seems likeAeschylus further enforces this opinion with the Furies’attempt at justice, which is similar in the way that it does not take into account the other party. The Furies, with the encouragement of the ghost of Clytemnestra, attempt to resolve the curse and justify the matricide of Orestes in a different way. The evil “daughters from Hell” chase after Orestes through the first half of this act, aiming to seek revenge and do their will. The Furies are very stubborn in their view of justice: they think that true justice needs bloodshed and that the will of justice is unchangeable. They say, “Flesh is the food of earth’s justice… The will of the Furies / Is fixed, like the sun” (165- 166). They plan to end the curse on the House ofAtreus by seeking revenge for Clytemnestra and killing Orestes. I think thatAeschylus reg
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