The Eumenides

Orestes' Sun: Apollo's Importance to the Oresteia College

Spanning an elemental and violent family conflict, The Oresteia by Aeschylus is a trilogy containing the plays Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides. As a whole, the trilogy deals with Agamemnon’s murder at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra, Orestes’ revenge on his father’s killers, and his ultimate trial for matricide. Although not present throughout the whole trilogy and only a supporting character in The Eumenides, Apollo is the character that prompts Orestes to kill his mother and he also tries to save him at the trial by claiming half of the blame. In examining Apollo’s contribution throughout the play, it can be inferred that Aeschylus uses Apollo as a narrative instrument in order to move the plot towards his desired end. This is why Apollo, though only a peripheral character, has such a substantial impact on the storyline.

In The Libation Bearers, Apollo is present only through the words of Orestes, making him an enigmatic character. “The big strength of Apollo’s oracle will not forsake me,” Orestes proudly proclaims as he explains his plans of revenge to his sister Electra. He continues to explain that “the god’s urgency” drives him on. Apollo is used here as a background force that makes Orestes to go on...

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