The Eumenides

Chorus Metamorphosis (The Chorus of the Oresteia)

In most Greek tragedies, the writer uses the chorus as a tool to comment on action in the play. The chorus does not play an active role in the story, such that if they were removed from the work, the plot would not be affected. However, in Oresteia, Aeschylus does not keep to this traditional pattern. Aeschylus utilizes a different form of chorus to put emphasis on certain themes and develop the plot more effectively. Throughout the work, the choruses do comment on the action of main characters, but as the trilogy progresses, the chorus goes through a metamorphosis from the traditional chorus of Agamemnon into a chief character in The Eumenides.

Though the chorus in Agamemnon is traditional, it serves a purpose not to be overlooked. To begin with, because the chorus is composed of Argive elders it can provide significant background information. For example, the chorus informs the audience of the sacrifice of Iphegenia, "Her supplications and her cries of father were nothing, nor the child's lamentation to kings passioned for battle...Pouring then to the ground her saffron mantle she struck the sacrificers with the eyes' arrows of pity" (ll. 227-241). This passage depicts Agamemnon as cold-hearted toward his...

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