Aeschylus: The Oresteia by Simon Goldhill

By Simon Goldhill

Simon Goldhill makes a speciality of the play's themes--justice, sexual politics, violence, and the position of guy in historic Greek culture--in this common creation to Aeschylus' Oresteia, essentially the most very important and influential of all Greek dramas. After exploring how Aeschylus constructs a delusion for town within which he lived, a last bankruptcy considers the impression of the Oresteia on extra modern theater. The volume's equipped constitution and advisor to extra studying will make it a useful reference for college students and teachers.

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What of the audience of the drama? The spectators – perhaps as many as 16,000 – were ranged in wedge-shaped sections in the amphitheatre. The front seats were reserved for dignitaries. It is also likely that the seating was arranged by tribal division, with each tribe seated in a particular wedge. The theatre thus mapped the city in its space as it addressed the city in its plays. Over the years, foreigners attended the Great Dionysia with increasing frequency, Drama and the city of Athens 19 and, after the transfer of the treasury from Delos, the ambassadors who brought the tribute to Athens sat in the theatre to watch its display.

641–5); and the chorus sings that (Cho. 931) ‘Dik¯e came to the sons of Priam in time . ’ and so to the house of Agamemnon has come dik¯e, the daughter of Zeus. Electra, The Oresteia 29 however, expressly introduces a distinction: when she is exhorted by the chorus to pray for the arrival of a saviour, she asks if they mean (Cho. 120) ‘a juror or someone who brings retribution’, a dikastes or a dik¯ephoros. The chorus retorts that they just want someone to kill in return, but Electra’s distinction looks forward to the Eumenides, where the Furies’ pursuit of dik¯e, retribution, leads to a trial, dikai, before jurors, dikastai, who evaluate the justice, dik¯e, of the case.

I have mentioned that there is no public position from which a woman can speak without being out of place – except religion. The extensive performance of religious rites in this play is co-extensive with Electra’s speaking role. As the revenge approaches, she is sent inside by Orestes. And so to silence. She is thus returned to the proper place of the unmarried daughter – on the inside – to await the outcome of the man’s attempt to reorder the oikos. In terms of the normative expectations of gender roles, then, Electra is set in opposition to Clytemnestra.

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