Libation Bearers as a Revenge Tragedy

High school
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Aeschylus' Oresteia is the only surviving ancient Greek trilogy. It is an achievement of western civilization that can be compared to Dante's Divine Comedy, Michelangelo's painting that adorn the walls of the Sistine Chapel or Shakespeare's tragedies. Though the other Greek playwrights did not present connected episodes in their plays, Aeschylus experimented on the theme of revenge in three connected plays in Orestes.


(2003, p. 3)
The ancient world saw retribution as a divinely ordained necessity. Avenging the death of father and mother or near of kin takes the dimension of a sacred filial or fraternal duty. However, the execution of this can put a person in conflicting situations. The person killed also can be near in blood and the avenger endangers himself or herself by inviting more curses. Often this takes the form of perennial stream of unending retribution with no escape route. This aspect of vengeance has engaged the attention of Greek Tragedians. In primitive societies, the fear of retribution might have acted a deterrent in reducing crime. In the heyday of Greek culture, the great writers used the themes of retribution for its cathartic effect on the spectators.
The last of the Oresteia trilogy The Libation Bearers is indeed a play of retribution. It opens at the tomb of Agamemnon. Orestes' sister Electra comes to the tomb to perform the rite for the dead father. The libation bearers who have come to pour the libations on the tomb also accompany her. ...
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