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Alternate cover edition can be found here here here hereIn the Oresteia the only trilogy in Greek drama which survives from antiuity Aeschylu. Let good prevail So be it Yet what is good And who is God As many deeply conservative societies have discovered time and time again societies in which there is only one right order and this order is warranted by the highest authorities recognized by the society when change comes and come it always must not only do those in power tumble but the authority of the godspriests ancestors laws whatever the highest authorities happen to be in that society comes into uestion New myths new godspriests new stories must be told to justify and establish reassure and mollify the people whose ideological or religious supports have been pulled out from beneath them In the city of Athens during the Golden Age this was done in the agora the marketplace and in the theaters In his lifetime Aeschylus ca 525 456 BCE witnessed the invasion of Attica by huge Persian armies the bold abandonment of the fortified city of Athens and withdrawal twice of the Athenian people behind the wooden walls of the Athenian navy and the multiple defeats of the Persians and their allies including other Greeks by the hugely outnumbered Athenians and their Greek allies He also witnessed the political transition from tyranny to isonomy to democracy in Athens and the concurrent growth of Athens from just another small unimportant Greek city state to major power He himself contributed greatly to the transition of Greek tragedy from a religiously inspired performancerite involving a chorus and a single actor to something we his distant descendants can recognize as powerful theater During the transition from tyranny to democracy when first the middle class essentially landowning farmers and artisans and then the lower class the thetes acuired a direct voice in Athenian politics political activity was carried out not only in the agora the popular assembly and the Council of Five Hundred but it was also performed on stage Remains of the Theater of Dionysus Eleuthereus where Aeschylus dramas were performed Indeed the theater was so important in Athenian public life that plays were produced at all the most important public festivals and addressed conflicts troubling the Athenian policy makers the populace flocked to see them and talk about them In 461 BCE the last step to democracy in Athens was initiated with the stripping of all but ritual responsibilities from the Aeropagus a body of men drawn essentially from the city s aristocracy The lower and middle classes formed the overwhelming majority on the remaining decision making organs of the state and were therefore in power for a while Curiously enough while all this innovation was going on in Athens one of the most damaging epithets was innovator So the men who willed the demotion of the Aeropagus led by Ephialtes who was later murdered for his trouble had to argue that the Aeropagus had usurped its powers uite false and thus the removal of the aristocrats from the center of power was a return to the status uo ante even false but we all know that democratic decision making has precious little to do with the truth The Athenians needed a efficacious justification for this change They also needed a soothing of the many riled spirits brought about in the populace by all these changes In the Oresteia first performed in 458 Aeschylus did all of this and much much During this Golden Age playwrights wrote trilogies which were intended performed and perceived by audiences as coherent wholes The Oresteia is the only one which has come down to us intact The three plays are structured together with both dramatic and ideological intent At the end of the Trojan War Agamemnon returns victorious to his palace But ten years earlier in order to thwart the will of Artemis and still the fierce winds keeping the fleet on the Greek shore he had sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia and his wife Clytemnestra has neither forgotten nor forgiven She slays him horrifically and now it is their son Orestes who is obliged by the received morality to revenge his father by killing his mother High drama and madness ensues but behind all that excitement is the structure of Aeschylus purpose justify the new order the new morality At the very outset of the trilogy the chorus recalls that even the gods have changed and changed again from the rule of Ouranos through that of Kronos to Zeus with son killing father before the father could do the same to the son And one cannot be sure of doing the right thing by obeying a god since the gods themselves disagree about right and wrong Uncertainty has been established perhaps the received ways are mutable I m not going to try to summarize the complicated plot and recall the many striking characters From this beautiful moving and complex masterpiece I just want to draw out here the one theme I ve been working on in this review When Orestes kills Clytemnestra at Apollo s urging the Erinyes the Furies representing the old order the old morality hasten to avenge the matricide by tearing Orestes apart But Apollo and Athena representing the new order and morality intervene The passages involving the Furies are particularly haunting both dramatically and poetically The new order is confirmed with a trial in which Athena casts the deciding vote Orestes is acuitted Athena convinces the Furies to accept the verdict and they are then given a place of honor though not power and agree to ensure the city s prosperity The old is replaced by the new honored and bound into the polis all s well that ends well except for the house of Atreus Despite Aeschylus efforts Athens new democracy did not last long but that is another story As Sophocles has Ajax say in the eponymous play Long immeasurable time brings everything hidden to light and hides what is apparent Nothing is not to be expected Change is the law of the world Aeschylus was in the battle at Marathon and most probably also at Salamis In fact the epitaph on his gravestone possibly written by himself mentions Marathon and not his plays This tomb the dust of Aeschylus doth hide Euphorion s son and fruitful Gela s pride How tried his valour Marathon may tell And long haired Medes who knew it all too well Read in the translations of Robert Fagles and of Philip Vellacott Fagles is terse and collouial while Vellacott s is literary redolent of older elevated diction Both are very readable but I do prefer Vellacott s Rating

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Governance from primitive ritual to civilized institution their spirit of struggle and regeneration becomes an everlasting song of celebratio. And the blood that Mother Earth consumesclots hard it won t seep through it breeds revenge and frenzy goes through the guiltyseething like infection swarming through the brain I d give this ten stars The trilogy creates an arc a link from blood sacrifice and burnt offerings to the nascent construct of something resembling jurisprudence Superstition giving way begrudgingly to law While the final trial isn t exactly one by peers it is amazing to contemplate This trilogy is simply wicked in all senses of the term The sacrifices made for good fortune in the Trojan War are a bit too close to home and an elouent vengeance awaits the conuering hero when he returns from the trenches to rebuke accolades and be greeted instead with just desserts I was astonished As I noted I ve felt my entire life like Cassandra

Aeschylus º 8 characters

S took as his subject the bloody chain of murder and revenge within the royal family of ArgosMoving from darkness to light from rage to self. I can only vouch for this Robert Fagles translation but yes astonishingly gripping after than 2400 years

  • Paperback
  • 335
  • Ὀρέστεια
  • Aeschylus
  • English
  • 27 March 2019
  • 9780140443332

About the Author: Aeschylus

Αισχύλος Ésuilo in Portuguese; Esuilo in Spanish; Eschyle en français; Eschil in romanian; Эсхил in russianAeschylus an ancient Greek playwright is often recognized as the father or the founder of tragedy He is the earliest of the three Greek tragedians whose plays survive extant the others being Sophocles and Euripides According to Aristotle he expanded the number of characters in plays to allow for conflict among them; previously characters interacted only with the chorus Unfortunately only seven of an estimated 70 plays by Aeschylus have survived into modern times; one of these plays Prometheus Bound is sometimes thought not to be the work of AeschylusAt least one of Aeschylus's works was influenced by the Persian invasion of Greece which took place during his lifetime His play The Persians remains a good primary source of information about this period in Greek history The war was so important to Greeks and to Aeschylus himself that upon his death around 456 BC his epitaph included a reference to his participation in the Greek victory at Marathon but not to his success as a playwrightThere are no reliable sources for the life of Aeschylus He was said to have been born in c 525 in Eleusis a small town about 27 kilometers northwest of Athens which is nestled in the fertile valleys of western Attica though the date is most likely based on counting back forty years from his first victory in the Great Dionysia His family was both wealthy and well established; his father Euphorion was a member of the Eupatridae the ancient nobility of AtticaAs a youth he worked at a vineyard until according to the 2nd century AD geographer Pausanias the god Dionysus visited him in his sleep and commanded him to turn his attention to the nascent art of tragedy As soon as he woke from the dream the young Aeschylus began writing a tragedy and his first performance took place in 499 BC when he was only 26 years old After fifteen years his skill was great enough to win a prize for his plays at Athens' annual city Dionysia playwriting competition But in the interim his dramatic career was interrupted by war The armies of the Persian Empire which had already conuered the Greek city states of Ionia entered mainland Greece in the hopes of conuering it as wellIn 490 BC Aeschylus and his brother Cynegeirus fought to defend Athens against Darius's invading Persian army at the Battle of Marathon Though Athens was victorious Cynegeirus died in the battle Aeschylus continued to write plays during the lull between the first and second Persian invasions of Greece and won his first victory at the city Dionysia in 484 BC In 480 he was called into military service again this time against Xerxes' invading forces at the Battle of Salamis This naval battle holds a prominent place in The Persians his oldest surviving play which was performed in 472 BC and won first prize at the DionysiaAeschylus was one of many Greeks who had been initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries a cult to Demeter based in his hometown of Eleusis As the name implies members of the cult were supposed to have gained some sort of mystical secret knowledge Firm details of the Mysteries' specific rites are sparse as members were sworn under the penalty of death not to reveal anything about the Mysteries to non initiates Nevertheless according to Aristotle it was alleged that Aeschylus had placed clues about the secret rites in his seventh tragedy Prometheus Bound According to some sources an angry mob tried to kill Aeschylus on the spot but he fled the scene When he stood trial for his offense Aeschylus pleaded ignorance and was only spared because of his brave service in the Persian WarsAeschylus traveled to Sicily once or twice in the 470s BC having

10 thoughts on “Ὀρέστεια

  1. says:

    Seeing the Or

  2. says:

    Let good prevail So be it Yet what is good ? And who is God? As many deeply conservative societies have discovered time and time again societies in which there is only one right order and this order is warranted by the highest authorities recognized by the society when change comes and come it always must not only do those in power

  3. says:

    This is pretty fantastic I'm surprised I think I like this old Greek trilogy of plays better than all the others that I've read That's including Oedipus PThe translation is pretty awesome the tragedy is beautiful and the underlying theme of justice and the balance of power between men and women is stark and heavyBut isn't it about m

  4. says:

    Murder betrayal revenge torment you might wonder “Why would I bother reading three Greek plays when I could see the same sort of lurid problems on an episode of Jerry Springer? And fold laundry at the same time??

  5. says:

    I can only vouch for this Robert Fagles' translation but yes astonishingly gripping after than 2400 years

  6. says:

    I have suffered into truthYou know the rules now turn them into justiceThe outrage stands as it stands you burn to know the endNever try to cut my power with your logicWe spoil ourselves with scruples long as things go we

  7. says:

    The Greeks had an intoxicating culture or at least it seems to us All of the iniuities and superstitions of the ancient peo

  8. says:

    And the blood that Mother Earth consumesclots hard it won’t seep through it breeds revenge and frenzy goes through the gui

  9. says:

    i read now no 2 the main conflict between son and mother the erotic freedom of the women the mother is destructive for the son as he is suppose to get the heritage you killed my father how can i live with you? amazing conflict great writing stilla lot of build up for me as i write a new thriller

  10. says:

    ForewordAcknowledgementsA Reading of 'The Oresteia' The Serpent and the Eagle Agamemnon The Libation Bearers The Eumenides The Genealogy of OrestesSelect BibliographyNotesGlossary

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