Oresteia

The Sacrifices of Creating Democracy College

Brimming with death, destruction, and despair, the plots of Greek tragedies are often considered the darkest of theatrical genres. However, it is this same dismal theme that occurs in one of the most well-known works of ancient Greece, Aeschylus’ Oresteia, working to represent a past distant not only to today’s readers but to the author himself. Starting with the sacrificial killing of Iphigenia, the Oresteia tells of a brutal cycle of revenge and murder, one that comes to an end solely through the guidance of the gods who help bring order and justice to the city of Argos. Illustrating human incapability to control their emotions, Aeschylus uses the Chorus and theatrical dialogue typical of a tragedy to highlight the dire consequences of lust, rage, and crave of honor. Broken into a trilogy of three plays, the stories of Agamemnon, the Libation Bearers, and the Furies portray the barbarity and violence of human nature and our inability as mortals to break the cycle. Upon close examination of the trilogy however, the significance of the tragedy as a form of writing begins to break through, revealing its role as a work that not only recounts the history of the Greek transition into democracy, but also subtly comments on the...

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