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Orestes

Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC)

1. Part 1
2. Part 2

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Summary

In accordance with the advice of the god Apollo, Orestes has killed his mother Clytemnestra to avenge the death of his father Agamemnon at her hands. Despite Apollo’s earlier prophecy, Orestes finds himself tormented by Erinyes or Furies to the blood guilt stemming from his matricide. The only person capable of calming Orestes down from his madness is his sister Electra. To complicate matters further, a leading political faction of Argos wants to put Orestes to death for the murder. Orestes’ only hope to save his life lies in his uncle Menelaus, who has returned with Helen after spending ten years in Troy and several more years amassing wealth in Egypt. In the chronology of events following Orestes, this play takes place after the events contained in plays such as Electra by Euripides or The Libation Bearers by Aeschylus, and before events contained in plays like The Eumenides by Aeschylus and Andromache by Euripides. As Buckley's translation of the argument concludes, "The play is among the most celebrated on the stage, but infamous in its morals; for, with the exception of Pylades, all the characters are bad persons."