The Oresteia is a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus which concerns the end of the curse on the House of Atreus. A principal theme of the trilogy is the shift from the practice of personal vendetta to a system of litigation. The name derives from the character Orestes, who sets out to avenge his father after his mother’s affair with Aegisthus.
The play Agamemnon details the homecoming of Agamemnon, King of Argos, from the Trojan War. Waiting at home for him is his wife, Clytemnestra, who has been planning his murder, partly as revenge for the sacrifice of their daughter, Iphigenia, and partly because in the ten years of Agamemnon’s absence Clytemnestra has entered into an adulterous relationship with Aegisthus, Agamemnon’s cousin and the sole survivor of a dispossessed branch of the family, who is determined to regain the throne he believes should rightfully belong to him.
The Libation Bearers is the second play of the Oresteia. It deals with the reunion of Agamemnon’s children, Electra and Orestes, and their revenge. Orestes kills Clytemnestra to avenge the death of Agamemnon, Orestes’ father.
The Eumenides (Εὐμενίδες, Eumenides; also known as The Furies) is the final play of the Oresteia, in which Orestes, Apollo, and the Erinyes go before Athena and eleven other judges chosen by her from the Athenian citizenry at the Areopagus (Rock of Ares, a flat rocky hill by the Athenian agora where the homicide court of Athens later held its sessions), to decide whether Orestes’ killing of his mother, Clytemnestra, makes him guilty of the crime of murder. (x)
Image: W.-A. Bouguereau. The Remorse of Orestes, 1862. Chrysler Collection, Norfolk, Virginia
30 Day Greek Mythology Challenge: Day 24, Myth Involving Murder