Download Aeschylus: The Oresteia by Simon Goldhill PDF

By Simon Goldhill

Simon Goldhill makes a speciality of the play's themes--justice, sexual politics, violence, and the function of guy in historic Greek culture--in this normal creation to Aeschylus' Oresteia, probably the most very important and influential of all Greek dramas. After exploring how Aeschylus constructs a delusion for town during which he lived, a last bankruptcy considers the impression of the Oresteia on extra modern theater. The volume's geared up constitution and consultant to additional studying will make it a useful reference for college students and teachers.

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Extra resources for Aeschylus: The Oresteia

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At one level, the suitors transgress a range of social norms, not least in wooing Penelope and sleeping with her servants. They – and the maidservants – suffer the vengeance of the return of the rightful master and meet a grisly and violent end. At another level, Odysseus on his travels meets different sorts of figures and visits different societies. Each different society offers a different insight into the world of Ithaca. On the one hand, the wild, the violent, the monstrous – like the Cyclops – construct a negative image of a transgressive world where social values are flouted, and violent deception corrupts any normal process of communication.

First, Orestes returns with his companion Pylades to pray at the tomb of his father for divine support. Electra and the chorus of female palace servants enter, also on their way to the tomb, carrying libations from Clytemnestra (hence the play’s title which means ‘libation bearers’, as it is sometimes called in translations of the trilogy). Clytemnestra has had a terrifying dream and has sent her daughter to appease the spirit of Agamemnon with the libations. Electra changes the words of the prayer, however, and pours libations in the hope of ‘just vengeance’.

Clytemnestra indeed dominates the Agamemnon. How does her representation relate to the expectations of a woman’s role? There are two particular ways that the figure of Clytemnestra is constructed as transgressive, her use of language and her sexual behaviour. Let us look at both in turn. Now in democratic Athens, as we have seen, there was little public role for women. Despite the function of women in certain religious ceremonies, neither Assembly nor law-court allowed women any speaking role. Indeed, the association of women with the inside of the house, private and unseen, is pervasive in Greek writing.

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