27 November 2010
Book Review: The Eumenides
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Release Date: 458 BCE
Date Finished: 27 November 2010
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Challenges: 100+ Reading, Hogwarts Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, Really Old Classics Challenge,
The Short and Sweet of It
The Oresteia is the only trilogy of Greek drama to survive today. Included are Agaememnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides, three plays which reveal "the bloody chain of murder and revenge within the royal family of Argos." Sounds interesting right?
The first in the trilogy, Agamemnon, recounts the return of its titular character to his home following the Trojan War. The second, The Libation Bearers, has Orestes returning home and killing his mother, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus. In the finale to the story, Orestes has fled his home, pursued by the three Furies who wish to torment him and drive him to death because of his matricide.
A Bit of a Ramble
As with the first play in this trilogy, I really enjoyed the story. While the second should have included the most exciting event, it fell flat, lots of talk with very little action. The third play, however, follows Orestes to Apollo's celestial (at least otherworldly) home and then on to Athena's city where Orestes appeals to the goddess to judge his case and hopefully free him from his persecution by the Furies. The trial is intriguing with the Furies on one side, and Apollo and Orestes on the other with Athena and some citizens judging the case.
Another interesting point about the trial is the horridness of the closing arguments. The poor, mortal jury has to cast their ballots, but before doing so, they are dealt some pretty serious threats by the Furies and Apollo. Vote my way or I'll decimate your city sort of stuff. The vote ends up tied, but Athena casts her vote for Orestes' innocence.
Having finally finished the entire trilogy, I am confident in saying that I would recommend it to anyone interested in this time period - especially since it's pretty quick reading - but without the foundation interest, I would hazard a guess that modern readers wouldn't be all that excited by the story.
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