The Significance of the Parados of the Oresteia
Aeschylus' Oresteia is undebatably one of antiquity's greatest surviving tragedies. Driven by the universal struggles of justice versus injustice, fear versus obligation and parent versus child, the play follows one ill-fated family through the passion, hatred and destruction that, through ultimate pain and suffering, eventually purges the lineage and restores honor to their name. Preluded by generations of domestic homicide, adultery and brutality, the Oresteia shows the purification and redemption of the house of Arteus. The play directly takes place after the Trojan war. Helen has been kidnapped, Menelaus enraged, Ifigenia sacrificed, war waged, and Troy massacred. The first play in the series, Agamemnon, opens upon a lone sentry gazing out across the Greek countryside pining for the loss of his king and the rise of the queen Clytemnestra into absolute power. In her husband's absence she had taken Argos into her embittered, power-starved hands, undermined his authority and driven her citizens to hate her and fear the future. The sentry sees a beacon in the distance, his sign that the Greeks have been triumphant and rejoices at the thought of his master's return home.
This brief but emotional prologue...
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