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Essay Justice in the Oresteia

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Justice in the Oresteia

Justice is often taken for granted in the world we live in today with a judicial system that gives fair punishment for most crimes. In the Oresteia justice works much differently, where there are no judges or a court system to resolve disputes, instead there is revenge. Revenge is very messy because somebody will and has to get hurt first to desire revenge, and it leads to a cycle that cannot and will not end until everybody is dead. Justice does not and cannot only be revenge because in the end nobody would be left in that system. Aeschylus' Oresteia focuses on revenge as justice, with the old system that no longer works and that someone must fix, and a new system that has
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Clytemnestra also gives her justification for murdering her husband, and for ten long years she thought about how sweet revenge would be when Agamemnon arrived. She also tells her lover, Aegisthus, "Our lives are based on pain" (1690). Clytemnestra does not realize how ironic her statement will be later on when pain controls her. Aegisthus sums-up their code of justice when he says, "There are gods in heaven avenging men, / blazing down on all the crimes of earth" (1607-1608). He also is foreshadowing that his crime must also be paid for and he will suffer the consequences of killing Agamemnon and revenge. Aegisthus does not realize it, but Orestes is seeking revenge upon him and his for the death of Agamemnon. After Orestes kills them, there is nobody left alive to kill him to avenge their deaths. Clytemnestra invokes the Furies who seek revenge for anybody who has nobody to seek it for them. The Furies chase Orestes to Apollo's temple where Orestes asks him for forgiveness, "Lord Apollo, you know the rules of justice, / know them well. Now learn compassion" (88-89). Orestes is the first person who is trying to change the system and realizes it must be changed for the gods and the Furies to spare his life. Revenge as justice has one major problem,
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