The Oresteia Trilogy: Agamemnon, The Libation-Bearers and The Furies

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Courier Corporation, Mar 2, 2012 - Drama - 160 pages

Perhaps the greatest of the Greek tragedians, Aeschylus wrote 90 plays, but only seven have survived complete. Among them is this classic trilogy dealing with the bloody history of the House of Atreus.
In Agamemnon, the warrior who defeated Troy returns to Argos and is murdered by his wife Clytemnestra for sacrificing their daughter Iphigenia before the start of the Trojan War. In The Libation-Bearers, Orestes, Agamemnon’s son, avenges his father by murdering his mother. In The Furies, Orestes flees to Delphi, pursued by the divine avengers (Erinyes) of his mother. After being purified by Apollo, he makes his way to Athens and is there tried (and acquitted) at the court of Areopagus.
Written in a grand style, rich in diction and dramatic dialogue, the plays embody Aeschylus’ concerns with the destiny and fate of individuals as well as the state, all played out under the watchful eye of the gods. Still powerful and provocative after 2,500 years, these great tragedies offer unparalleled insight into the world of ancient Greece and the origins of the Western dramatic tradition.

 

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Contents

Agamemnon
1
The LibationBearers
67
The Furies
111
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Aeschylus was born at Eleusis of a noble family. He fought at the Battle of Marathon (490 b.c.), where a small Greek band heroically defeated the invading Persians. At the time of his death in Sicily, Athens was in its golden age. In all of his extant works, his intense love of Greece and Athens finds expression. Of the nearly 90 plays attributed to him, only 7 survive. These are The Persians (produced in 472 b.c.), Seven against Thebes (467 b.c.), The Oresteia (458 b.c.)---which includes Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and Eumenides (or Furies) --- Suppliants (463 b.c.), and Prometheus Bound (c.460 b.c.). Six of the seven present mythological stories. The ornate language creates a mood of tragedy and reinforces the already stylized character of the Greek theater. Aeschylus called his prodigious output "dry scraps from Homer's banquet," because his plots and solemn language are derived from the epic poet. But a more accurate summation of Aeschylus would emphasize his grandeur of mind and spirit and the tragic dignity of his language. Because of his patriotism and belief in divine providence, there is a profound moral order to his plays. Characters such as Clytemnestra, Orestes, and Prometheus personify a great passion or principle. As individuals they conflict with divine will, but, ultimately, justice prevails. Aeschylus's introduction of the second actor made real theater possible, because the two could address each other and act several roles. His successors imitated his costumes, dances, spectacular effects, long descriptions, choral refrains, invocations, and dialogue. Swinburne's (see Vol. 1) enthusiasm for The Oresteia sums up all praises of Aeschylus; he called it simply "the greatest achievement of the human mind." Because of his great achievements, Aeschylus might be considered the "father of tragedy.

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