Orestes. Vengeful Son. Orestes, Electra, and Iphigenia were born to Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Being part of the Atreus family, Orestes was destined to have something horrible happen to him. “Seven long years, with Agamemnon dead, he held the people down, before the vengeance.
Orestes, Electra, and Iphigenia were born to Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Being part of the Atreus family, Orestes was destined to have something horrible happen to him...
“Seven long years, with Agamemnon dead,
he held the people down, before the vengeance.
But in the eighth year, back from exile in Attika,
Orestes killed the snake who killed his father.
He gave his hateful mother and her soft man
a tomb together, and proclaimed the funeral day
a festal day for all the Argive people.
That day Lord Menelaos of the great war cry
made port with all the gold his ships could carry.
And this should give you pause, my son:
don’t stay too long away from home, leaving
your treasure there, and brazen suitors near;
they’ll squander all you have or take it from you,
and then how will your journey serve?”
Odyssey. Book IV. Page 44. Lines 331-344
In this passage Telemakhos is being compared to Orestes. This is happening while Odysseus is trying to find his way home, and Telemakhos is searching for news of his father. Agamemnon stayed away from home for a while and was killed upon return. Telemakhos could be murdered just leaving his property to suitors without even watching over them. He is advised to not stay away from home too long, for the suitors can freely plan Telemakhos‘ death without having people watch over them. It is also just there to tell a small story about Agamemnon and Orestes. It tells how Agamemnon was murdered, and Orestes had to commit matricide to avenge his father’s murder.
Agamemnon went off to fight at Troy in the Trojan War, leaving his three children behind. There were no winds to take his ship and crew to Troy though, for Artemis did not want it. He had killed one of Artemis’ sacred beasts, and she wanted him to sacrifice one of his daughters, Iphigenia, in return. Obviously telling his daughter he was going to sacrifice her would not get her to come, so he said that she was going to be wed to Achilles. When she went to her father, he sacrificed her to Artemis. Agamemnon got the winds to go to war, and so he went.
This piece of pottery depicts Orestes (center) murdering Aegisthus (right). Clytemnestra (left) is running away. The artist is showing how guilty Clytemnestra is by having her run away instead of facing her death. Orestes’ face shows his anger towards his mother and her lover. He is glaring at her, paying little heed towards Aegisthus.
The red of the pottery indicates anger and death. The abundance of this color can represent the amount of anger there actually is. The blood flowing out of Aegisthus could represent the relief Orestes gets from finally completing a goal he has had for years.
Clytemnestra had been present at her daughter’s murder, so she lost all trust in her husband. In her anger, she had a love affair with Aegisthus. They plotted against Agamemnon, planning to murder him as soon as he returned from Troy. Everyone in the town knew about the love affair, but were too afraid to mention it to Agamemnon. The murder took place as soon as Agamemnon returned.
Snakes are thought to be a symbol of evil in many cultures. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus have snakes on their arms, indicating that they are not the ones fighting for justice. This pottery shows Orestes striking the ones with the snakes, indicating he is the one doing justice. The contrast in color(the backround being darker than the foreground) is there to show the extra importance of the actions going on that relate to the story. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus are dressed, while Orestes is in the nude. The nakedness of Orestes implies innocence, like in The Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve ate of the Forbidden Fruit, they put clothes on to hide their guilt. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus are shown hiding their guilt in the same way.
Agamemnon brought home Cassandra because of winning the Trojan War. He went inside, not knowing what fate awaited him, and Cassandra followed. They were both murdered by Clytemnestra, and believing that she had the right to avenge her daughter’s death, she went out and told the townspeople what had occurred. She believed that she and Aegisthus would live in peace for t he rest of their lives.
This piece of pottery shows Orestes holding Aegesthus’ head in anger. The Vengeful Son is about to strike his father and kill him, while Clytemnestra contemplates attacking Orestes herself. The two people barely visible on the side may represent the townspeople standing outside. It may also represent the Furies, about to haunt Orestes for several years for the crime he is about to commit. This piece portrays anger and betrayal, with the mother attacking the son who is attacking the stepfather. The lack of color leaves much to be desired, for the mood is harder to interpret. If the vase is only black in white in reality, and it isn’t just the black-and-white photo, then the anger is clear. The black would indicate hopelessness of Clytemnestra, resorting to murdering her own son. It can also represent anger, as in the image a few slides back.
The color on the left is darker, indicating more guilt and wrongdoing. The color to the right is lighter, showing more innocence to Orestes’ actions.
Orestes did not have a big role in the Odyssey. The first time he is mentioned is in Book I. He is used in a comparison to Telemakhos by the Gods. One of the other times he is mentioned is when Telemakhos is traveling to find news of his father around the Mediterranean Sea. Telemakhos is at Pylos, talking to it’s king, Nestor. Nestor tells Telemakhos news of events after the war. He tells the tale of how Agamemnon was murdered, and how Orestes avenged his death. That is when he tells Telemakhos to find Menelaos and he might have news of Odysseus. He also warns him to watch out for murder when he arrives at home. The main reason Orestes was in The Odyssey was to be compared to Telemakhos. Orestes became a man and avenged his father’s death. Telemakhos is doing somewhat of the same thing: he is searching for news of his father, and planning a way to rid his palace of the suitors. They are both very loyal to their fathers, and that is why Orestes is mentioned.
Electra had been smart, and had sent Orestes away several years before, for he was in sure danger. If he had remained in the city area he would have been killed by Aegisthus. He spent those years confused, outside of the city as he grew to manhood.
When he was a man he went to Delphi, to ask the oracle what he should do. His mother had killed his father. It was his job to avenge his father’s death, but killing his mother was also a crime. Apollo spoke to him, clearly saying to avenge his father’s death by murdering both Aegisthus and his father’s murderer, Clytemnestra, his mother. He plotted with Electra and his friend, Pylades, about how to gain entrance to the palace. Orestes and Pylades were to go back to his kingdom and falsely inform the king and queen of Orestes death. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus would be happy to hear the news, for Orestes would not be able to avenge his father’s death, and Orestes would be allowed into the palace. From there they would destroy the evil ones. The plan went smoothly until a slave of the palace told Clytemnestra that Orestes was at the door. Aegisthus and Clytemnestra were killed by Orestes. As soon as Orestes stepped outside, the Eyrines, sent by his deceased mother, began haunting him.
Orestes was haunted for several years before he made his plea to the Oracle of Delphi. Apollo told him to go to the Temple of Athena in Athens and plead to her. Apollo told Athena that he had advised Orestes to kill his mother, so she forgave him, in part because he had been the first in the house of Atreus to feel guilt for his crimes. The Grey-Eyed Goddess convinced most of the Eyrines to stop following him. Agamemnon’s son had to do a small task to get rid of the others: he was to go to a far off land and retrieve a relic, a sacred image of Artemis, from one of Artemis’ temples.
The land was dangerous, but he and Pylades went. He found his sister, Iphigenia, there as a priestess. Iphigenia had been saved by Artemis before she was sacrificed. Orestes and Pylades were caught, but Iphigenia saved them. They retrieved the image and sailed back to Athena’s temple in Greece where he was completely forgiven. The curse of the House of Atreus was lifted.
The House of Atreus”. http://www.nv2.cc.va.us/home/sadelcid/house_of_atreus/family_bio2.html.
Some sourced could not be sited due to technical difficulties
John Quirk, for his excellent input
Mr.Rockerman for his help
Mrs.Craig-Olins for her help
The ancient Greeks for their stories
The Golden Globe and the Emmy people for their awards which should arrive any day now...