The Orestia:Aeschylus, Religion and Women Essay example

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Aeschylus was, by all accounts, a notable participant in Athens’s major dramatic competitions. Regarded as the father of tragedy, Aeschylus used poetry to address ethical dilemmas that were often present during his time. In the Oresteia, Aeschylus’ religious tendencies seem to, at times, cloud his view. In the context of the play, events created by human hubris set off a chain reaction of such epic proportions that only the gods can help mend; he seems to forgive and forget the gods involvement in the events that lead to the curse. Aeschylus sexist portrayal of the myth of the sons of Atreus is a religiously biased tale of bloodshed and retributive justice where gods’ actions are justified.
Unlike justice, congruous and restorative, vengeance is injurious and punitive: it quickly becomes a cyclical black hole that pulls in everyone it touches. Orestes was a simple pawn caught in a game of manipulation by the gods and a victim of his ancestors’ senseless pride. His decision to kill his mother was based on the expectations of Apollo that he seek retribution for the murder of his father. The chorus encourages him by reminding him of the brutality of his father’s murder. “Shamed? Butchered, I tell you-hands lopped/strung to shackle his neck and arms! / so she worked/ she buried him, made your life a hell/ your father, mutilated-do you hear?” However, as you learn the story, it is easy to see that Agamemnon’s downfall was really due to a series of unwise choices. First and foremost, the Trojan War that took him away from his land, and his wife, was not his battle to fight. It was his brother’s Menelaus’ war. A ten year long ordeal to avenge his brother’s wounded pride after Paris, prince of Troy, seduced and stole Menelaus’ wif...

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...ity of men over women by portraying Clytaemnestra’s strength as a flaw and by continuously having women in the play agree with his point of view, this is to be expected in literature from that time period. Overall, the discriminatory portrayal did not deter me from enjoying this book; in fact I find it ironic that the women are the ones that create conflict making the play interesting.

Works Cited

Graves, R. (1992). THe Greek Myths:complet edition. New York: Penguin Books.
Aeschylus. (2011). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from (Accessed April 11, 2011)
Eleusis. (2011). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from (accessed April 2, 2011)

Aeschylus. The Oresteia. Robert Fagles, translator and editor. New York: Penguin Books, 1979

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