the oresteia by aeschylus
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The Oresteia By Aeschylus. Andy Monagle Abby Sevier Sarah Sheehan. Background.

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the oresteia by aeschylus

The OresteiaBy Aeschylus

Andy Monagle

Abby Sevier

Sarah Sheehan


The Oresteia written by the Greek playwright Aeschylus in 5th century BC. It details the story of the House of Atreus, shortly by before and then after the Trojan War. It is the only surviving example of Ancient Greek trilogy.

the story of the oresteia
The Story of The Oresteia
  • Play opens with Agamemnon arriving home after a long stint at the Trojan War. He brings with him a concubine named Cassandra who forecasts the doom of the House of Atreus.
  • His wife Clytaemenstra has in the meantime taken a lover names Aegisthus and all the while is holding a grudge against Agamemnon for sacrificing their daughter.
  • She in cohorts with Aegisthus kills Agamemnon. Their son and daughter, Orestes and Electra, escape with the help of the Nurse. Unfortunately, the brother and sister are seperated as they go into hiding.
  • Later on, Orestes returns to kill his mother and Aegisthus in revenge for the death of his father. He is reunited with Electra and all is well.
  • A trial is held against Orestes to decide whether the murder of his mother was just. The goddess Athena decides that his element of revenge was just.
further elaboration on the plot
Further Elaboration on the Plot:

An awful although pretty accurate retelling of the Odyssey done by some students.

match the oresteia to the odyssey
1.Orestes-his mother (Clytaemnestra) is left by husband (Agamemnon) while fighting the trojan war. She is courted by a suitor (Aegisthus)

2. Agamemnon- Spends years away from home fighting the Trojan War. Returns to find his wife(Clytaemnestra) courted by a suitor(Aegisthus).

3. Clytaemnestra- Wife of a king (Agamemnon) She is left at home for a long time, giving her ample time to be courted by a suitor (Aegisthus)

4. Cillissa- Nurse that rescues Orestes from his poisonous home. Seen as a symbol of safety and comfort.

5. Aegisthus- Suitor that is Clytaemnestra's lover while Agamemnon is off at war. Receives ample warning of his wrongdoing from the goddess Athena.

6. Fawn Scar- when Orestes is united with his sister Electra he shows a scar he received from a fawn to prove who he is.

7. Matricide-Orestes kills his mother as revenge for the death of his father. This is widely discussed later in the book as to whether its ethical or not.

A.Boar Scar- To prove his identity, Odysseus shows the scar he received in a boar hunt to many characters.

B.Slaughter in the Halls-Odysseus goes a bit overboard and brutally kills all Penelope's suitors as a means of revenge.

C. Penelope- Wife of a king (Odysseus) She is home alone for 20 years, being courted by suitors the entire time.

D.Telemachus- his mother (Penelope) is left by husband (Odysseus) for an extended period of time and is courted by multiple suitors, "bleeding their house white"

E.Eurycleia- Nurse that cares for Penelope while Odysseus is off at war.

F.Suitors- Men who pursue Penelope disgracing the house of Odysseus. They receive warning from Zeus foreshadowing their demise.

G.Odysseus-Is away from home for 20 years. He arrives home to find his wife pursued by many men.

Match The Oresteia to the Odyssey!
match the oresteia to the odyssey answers
Match The Oresteia to the Odyssey Answers!

1. D

2. G

3. C

4. E

5. F

6. A

7. B

allusions in other works
Allusions in Other Works
  • Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
  • The Family Reunion by T.S. Eliot
  • Infoquake by David Louis Edelman
  • The Mask of Atreus by A.J. Hartley
  • The Collusus by Sylvia Plath
  • Electra the Movie
  • The Mountain Goats "Against Agamemnon"
  • A Perfect Circle "Orestes"
  • Virginia Steele's Album The House of Atreus
  • Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion
significance of the oresteia
Significance of the Oresteia
  • Only Surviving Example of a Greek Trilogy
  • First Example of a Tragedy in Theater or Literature
  • It has the repeated theme of revenge that permeates through much of greek literature at this time. It is the first example that illustrates the greek principle of justice; If someone does you wrong than you are not only encouraged but expected to go after your enemy and avenge yourself.
  •  The Courtroom Scene is the first of its kind to question the ethical and moral nature of revenge.
  • Aeschylus expanded the number of characters in plays to allow for conflict among them; previously, characters interacted only with the chorus.