Battle of the Sexes: Gender Roles in Aeschylus' "The Eumenides" College

In the third and final play of The Oresteia trilogy, The Eumenides, Apollo testifies for Orestes and the Furies testify for the late Clytemnestra in a trial that will decide whether or not Orestes is guilty. In this play, a new system of justice centered around rationale and testimony is established. However, parallel to the establishment of a new justice system is a leap towards a society in which claims of men are have more authority over those of women, male-dominated society. The new rule of law also comes to support the marginalization of motherhood and therefore women in general. In this essay, I shall argue that in Aeschylus’ The Eumenides, the battle of the genders, with the Furies representing parental equality and Apollo representing male dominance. The loss on the Furies’ front defines a new social order that weakens the role of the mother and women in society.

The old form of justice was one that valued the sanctity of the parent-child bond and revenge when that familial bond was betrayed. Implemented by the Furies, the original justice system rationalized that both genders are equally important, and therefore, this system upheld the rights of the mother. The Furies exclaim that if the court does not favor them,...

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