Oresteia Justice Essay Title

Essay Justice in the Oresteia

846 Words4 Pages

Justice in the Oresteia

Justice is often taken for granted in the world we live in today with a judicial system that gives fair punishment for most crimes. In the Oresteia justice works much differently, where there are no judges or a court system to resolve disputes, instead there is revenge. Revenge is very messy because somebody will and has to get hurt first to desire revenge, and it leads to a cycle that cannot and will not end until everybody is dead. Justice does not and cannot only be revenge because in the end nobody would be left in that system. Aeschylus' Oresteia focuses on revenge as justice, with the old system that no longer works and that someone must fix, and a new system that has…show more content…

Clytemnestra also gives her justification for murdering her husband, and for ten long years she thought about how sweet revenge would be when Agamemnon arrived. She also tells her lover, Aegisthus, "Our lives are based on pain" (1690). Clytemnestra does not realize how ironic her statement will be later on when pain controls her. Aegisthus sums-up their code of justice when he says, "There are gods in heaven avenging men, / blazing down on all the crimes of earth" (1607-1608). He also is foreshadowing that his crime must also be paid for and he will suffer the consequences of killing Agamemnon and revenge. Aegisthus does not realize it, but Orestes is seeking revenge upon him and his for the death of Agamemnon. After Orestes kills them, there is nobody left alive to kill him to avenge their deaths. Clytemnestra invokes the Furies who seek revenge for anybody who has nobody to seek it for them. The Furies chase Orestes to Apollo's temple where Orestes asks him for forgiveness, "Lord Apollo, you know the rules of justice, / know them well. Now learn compassion" (88-89). Orestes is the first person who is trying to change the system and realizes it must be changed for the gods and the Furies to spare his life. Revenge as justice has one major problem,

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Justice and Social Order in The Oresteia Essay

1160 Words5 Pages

Justice and Social Order in The Oresteia

Democracy, emerging in the city-state of Athens, allowed unprecedented power to her citizens. Among these new powers was the ability to legislate. Yet, legislation was not without its problems. First the citizens must agree upon what is just and unjust, and then enforce the law by bringing the unjust to reconcile their guilt with the public through trial, and finally dispense the appropriate penalty. This evolution was not without concern. The Greeks were attempting to establish a governmental system which would span the middle ground between anarchy and despotism. By the crimes played out in Aeschylus' tragic trilogy The Oresteia, Aeschylus demonstrates the contrast between anarchy and…show more content…

Thyestes seduced Atreus' wife, and in retribution Atreus took the matter into his own hands and determined a punishment outside of the societal law (Libation Bearers, ln.989-90). The most complete account of this anarchist travesty is related by Aegisthus (Agamemnon, ln.1578-611). Aegisthus states that his father Thyestes returned to Atreus' home, after his transgression, as a suppliant, and found Atreus a gracious host. Atreus welcomed his brother and prepared a great feast. After a "day of meat-eating with good cheer", Atreus revealed to his brother that the meat he had ingested and enjoyed was none other than Thyesetes' twelve children. It was at this point that Thyestes placed a curse upon the House of Atreus. In this case, Atreus distributed a punishment unbefitting the crime and acted on his own accord without consultation of the gods. Because there is no mention of Atreus' rule or kingdom in these accounts by Aeschylus, this may be interpreted as a personal vendetta between the brothers. Further, since it is clear that Atreus acted alone the crime may be projected as that of anarchy.

Agamemnon, however, portrays an unconscious despot. None of the crimes committed by him were done alone, and all were committed against subordinates in his kingdom. The list of his crimes are numerous. The chorus claims Agamemnon's guilt in leading many Achean youths to their slaughter "for the sake of another's wife" at Troy (Ag., ln. 445-55). Though

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