Comparing Revenge in Aeschylus' The Oresteia Trilogy and Sophocles' Electra

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Revenge in Aeschylus' The Oresteia Trilogy and Sophocles' Electra

The act of revenge in classical Greek plays and society is a complex issue with unavoidable consequences. In certain instances, it is a more paramount concern than familial ties. When a family member is murdered another family member is expected to seek out and administer revenge. If all parties involved are of the same blood, the revenge is eventually going to wipe out the family. Both Aeschylus, through "The Oresteia Trilogy," and Sophocles, through "Electra," attempt to show the Athenians that revenge is a just act that at times must have no limits on its reach. Orestes and his sister Electra, the children of the slain Agamemnon, struggle on how to avenge their
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The murder of Aegisthus is no less brutal; but the act is not as controversial, as will be explained later by Orestes' altercation with the gods.

Although having to defend himself to the gods later, Orestes and his sister call upon the gods for strength and guidance before they set out on their deadly mission. With belief that they are doing the right thing, Electra proclaims "[o] ye Gods, it is yours to decree" (Aeschylus 86). Also asking for the accompaniment of the gods is Orestes, who requests that "[l]et their might meet mine, and their right with my right" (Aeschylus 86). By the words they choose to complete their prayers; the reader learns that these siblings believe that what they are doing is not only just, but it is also the will of the gods. Justifying his actions after performing them, Orestes proclaims "[o] king Apollo-see, they swarm and throng-[b]lack blood of hatred dripping from their eyes!" (Aeschylus 109). These words prove that Orestes has the help of Apollo on his side which will be crucial to his defense in why he killed his mother.

Orestes and Electra's desire for revenge is understable, although some individuals protest that their actions are not. The murdering of Aegisthus and, in particular, Clytemnestra is viewed critically by the society and even the gods. The reason Electra killing Aegisthus is not as controversial is because he is not an immediate relative, where as Clytemnestra is. Her
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