The Role Of Women In The Eumenides

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Establishing a justice system is essential for any society to stand the test of time. As human nature is irrational, emotional, and self-serving, there must exist an ordered method of discerning who is at fault and what the fairest outcome of conflicts should be. Without this, justice becomes entirely subjective and becomes a relentless cycle of revenge following the ‘an eye for an eye’ mentality. Through the trial of Orestes in The Eumenides, Aeschylus highlights the transition from the old law of the Furies, based on personal retribution for wrongs done, to the new law of Athenian democracy held in the hands of the state and backed by the new gods (Aeschylus, 571-888). While it is known that women were not equal to men in Greek society or even within families, this institutionalization of justice also served to cement a lesser status of women in dealing with their personal affairs. Not only does this represent a change in the who holds justice in society, but it also depicts a strengthening of the law as it changes hands from the women of old to the male-dominated democracy.
According to the Furies, Clytemnestra set herself free from the injustices Agamemnon committed against the house of Atreus, in which he killed their daughter Iphigenia to gain passage to Troy for the Argive forces. Agamemnon’s blood was “not her own” except through marriage, and her actions follow the mentality of the Furies’ law as she was avenging the daughter with whom she did share blood (611). By

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