Libation Bearers

An Examination of Imagery Across Genres: The Tragedy and The Epic

A tool consistently employed by the Greeks was that of imagery, and within the genre of tragedy and the epic they have demonstrated their mastery of the device. Imagery within tragedy adds a necessary and otherwise unattainable sub-story to the play through symbolism, while within the epic it enables the reader to fully comprehend the text with thorough description.

The Oresteia, for instance, is flooded with symbolic imagery. Within the first two plays, The Agamemnon and The Libation Bearers, such visual and tactile language serves several purposes. There are multiple ways in which it adds depth, the first being a sense of the severity that it lends to the curse on the House of Atreus. It specifically accomplishes this aim with the ubiquitous image of blood; throughout both plays the reader understands that blood is inextricably-and appropriately-linked with this cycle of murder. "From him deep in the nerve is given the love and the blood drunk, that before the old wound dries, it bleeds again (emphasis added)," (Agamemnon, 1477-80) Clytaemestra claims after she murders Agamemnon; she is quite obviously referring to the power of the cycle of violence that claims her family. This insight also surfaces in The Libation...

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