Oresteia Paper - the Transformation of Justice

1480 Words6 Pages
The Transformation of Justice

A cycle of murder and death spurs from the curse on the House of Atreus in Aeschylus’ The Oresteia but transforms from justice as vengeance to justice as fairness and forgiveness through the wisdom of Athena, establishing a new cycle of growth and life. The curse upon the House of Atreus was brought forth through the event of Zeus’ eagles devouring a pregnant hare which angered Artemis for she is the goddess of young animals and creatures. The big black bird swoops down and “plunged their claws in a hare, a mother bursting with unborn young—the babies spilling, quick spurts of blood-cut off the race just dashing into life!” and instantly this brings forth the curse (A 122-124). The death of the hare’s
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Clytemnestra fits the character of one of the Argos’s contaminations because of her adulterous acts with Aegisthus and her psychotic murderous plans to kill her husband Agamemnon. In her point of view, justice will only be obtained of she avenges the death of her daughter Iphigenia by killing the one who murdered her, Agamemnon. Cassandra mentions this cycle of fertility and decay when she talks about “the babies wailing, skewered on the sword, their flesh charred, the father gorging on their parts” referring to Thyestes’ babies (A 1095-1097). More blood vengeance and violence only fuels what becomes a never ending cycle of death and decay within the House of Atreus. When Clytaemnestra finally kills Agamemnon she cries, “So he goes down, and the life is bursting out of him—great sprays of blood, and the murderous shower wounds me, dyes me black and I, I revel like the Earth when the spring rains come down, the blessed gifts of god, and the new green spear splits the sheath and rips to birth in glory!”, and she feels reborn from his death and even calls it a gift from the god (A 1410-1415). Not only does Clytaemnestra feel renewed from murdering Agamemnon, but she feels that it was the proper and just thing to do. Although the Furies don’t go after her since this is not a crime of matricide or patricide, killing her husband is unwise and unfair because in Agamemnon’s

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