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Oresteia (Hackett Publishing)

by Aeschylus, Peter Meineck, Helene P. Foley

Buy the book: Aeschylus. Oresteia (Hackett Publishing)

Release Date: September, 1998

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: Aeschylus. Oresteia (Hackett Publishing)

From the Blood Feud to Democracy

The Oresteia is the only extant Greek trilogy. Made up of Agememnon, The Libation Bearers, and the Eumenides the trilogy presents man's progress from blood feud to the beginnings of democracy.

Agememnon is the traditional and essential Greek tragedy. This play show mankind at its most savage. (...) It is the second generation of the curse on the house of Atreus. (...) Clytaemnestra is one of literature's great creations and a memorable character known for her cunning and ruthlessness.

The Libation Bearers continues the story. Agememnon's son Orestes plots revenge with his sister, Electra. The message here seems to be that blood begets blood. (...)

The Eumenides is the first courtroom drama. Here we witness the birth of the democratic process. (...) Man has moved from the age of the blood feud to the dawn of democracy in less than 300 pages.

On the whole the trilogy is not light reading. The Fagles translation attempts to preserve the poetry of the work to a large extent. However Aeschylus was never easy to relate to even in the 5th Century B.C. he was considered archaic. The trilogy deserves a read just on the strength of its importance to western civilazation. The reader needs a good bit of patience but will find himself rewarded if he sticks with this work.

If reading the Fagles translation it may be helpful to read the lengthy introduction "The Serpent and the Eagle" for a good guide to the work. The intro is long and somewhat tedius but it places the work in an historical perspective that is helpful as one gets deeper and deeper into the text. The textual notes are inconvieniently placed at the end of the work which make them a chore to read except for the most interested scholars.

Try this one you won't regret it.

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Did Orestes kill his mother ?

Aeschylus ( 525-456 B. C.) is one of the greatest poets in history and is the oldest of the three Tragedy Poets ( the others are Sophocles and Euripides).
The Oresteia is the only Greek trilogy that survived.
In the first part - Agamemnon - he tells how the Greek commander is murdered by his wife Clytaimnestra an her lover Aigisthus short after his homecoming. His wife wanted to revenge the death of her daughter Iphigeneia, sacrificed by Agamemnon ten years earlier ( at the very beginning of the Trojan war ).
The second part - The Libation Bearers - Orestes helped by his sister Electra, kills his mother and her lover Aigistus.
In the third part - The Eumenides - Orestes is pursued by the three goddesses who seek revenge in their turn, urged by his mother.
I like this trilogy mainly because at a given moment you could say that Orestes is only imagening things. I don't want to spoil so I guess you have to read this work to know what I mean.

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