Term 3 - Lecture 1 - Oresteia (Eumenides) Flashcards Preview

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Where does Eumenides begin and end?

Begins at Delphi (the oracle of Apollo), ends in Athens.


What story is revealed in the prologue of Eumenides?

The history of the Delphic oracle. It is a different story than the one given in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo.

Earth (Gaia) gave Themis (her daughter) gave Phoebe (Gaia's granddaughter) Delphi.

Phoebe then gave Apollo the oracle as a birthday present.


In Emenides, why is it significant that Apollo has the oracle of Delphi?

He is the first one to behold it after a long line of females (Gaia, Themis, Phoebe)


In the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, how does Apollo gain possession of the oracle at Delphi?

By slaying a dragon there (Python, claims the oracle as Pytho)


How does Eumenides begin with Apollo and Orestes? What does Apollo say to Orestes?

Orestes is at Delphi. He sees the priestess and he is covered in blood from the murder of his mother. He is surrounded by the Furies.

Apollo enters at Delphi, and puts the Furies to sleep.

Apollo says that he must find a sanctuary in Athena's citadel and stand trial. "After healing words from me, who commanded you to kill your mother, you shall be set free"


Who is the chorus in Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and Eumenides?

Agamemnon: the old men of Argos who were too old to fight at Troy

Libation Bearers: the women of Troy who were forced to be slaves to Clytemnestra

Eumenides: the Furies


What is the main job of the furies? Who are they?

They punish those who spilled kindred blood (they bring revenge)

Born from drops of blood from Ouranos' castration


How is Orestes purified from his miasma?

By Apollo - Apollo slits the throat of a small pig and the spilt blood purifies Orestes


Are the Furies (Erinyes) male or female?

Females, with snakes wrapped around their arms.


When does the first trial by jury for homicide occur?

In Eumenides - democracy and tragedy


After Apollo purifies Orestes, what does Orestes do? Who pursues him?

He travels for a year, before arriving in Athens where he supplicates Athena. He is pursued by the Furies who are driven by the ghost of Clytemnestra.


Who is the only character that appears in all 3 plays?

Clytemnestra (although she appears as a ghost in Eumenides)


What gods are on the sides of Clytemnestra and Orestes?

Clytemnestra: Furies
Orestes: Apollo


What is the Furies' argument for why it was okay for Clytemnestra to kill Agamemnon?

Clytemnestra's manslaughter was not within the kin


What does Orestes ask of Athena? What does Athena say to him?

To be granted sanctuary.
Athena asks for him to "tell your fatherland and family and what misfortune overtook you, and then answer the charge against you".

Orestes appeals to Athena as the ally of his father


Where does the trial occur? Who organizes it?

Occurs on the Areopagus. The ancient site of the Amazonamachy.

It is instituted by Athena (polis god - DEMOCRATIC). Stops the cycle of violent revenge.


What occurs at the trial on the Areopagus?

Athena is concerned that if the Furies do not get what they want, they will devastate her country.


Why are the furies against Apollo?

Because they don't think a younger god should have so much power and they are very old and wise.


Who speaks at the trial on Areopagus?

The Furies, on behalf of Clytemnestra against Orestes. Apollo on behalf of Orestes,


Who wins the trial?

Apollo wins it for Orestes. Orestes is acquitted and praises the Athenians.


What is Apollo's defence that wins him acquittal?

"The mother is not a parent, only the nurse of the seed which the true parent, the father, commits to her as a stranger".

ATHENA is proof that the the father is the true parent.

Aristotle argues this again about a century later


Who does Apollo use as a reference in his defence? Who eventually depicts the same viewpoint as Apollo?

1. Athena as a reference that you don't need a mother

2. Aristotle, who says as a scientist that the father contributed more to the nature of the child


How do the Furies react to Apollo winning the trial for Orestes?

They are furious, and threaten to punish ATHENA with blight (a disease)


Who do the Furies threaten to punish with blight?



How does Athena respond to the Furies, who try to punish her for acquitting Apollo and Orestes?

She offer HONOUR (kleos) to let go of their anger.

They are transformed into the Eumenides (kindly ones).

Given a home and honours in a cave in Athens.

Given purple clothing to wear (COMPARE CLYTEMNESTRA) and a torchlight procession


Who transforms the Furies into Eumenides? What does the word mean? What is their motto?

Athena does, so that they don't harm her or her city for acquitting Orestes.


They hope to "help friends, and harm enemies"


What is the significance of the Furies going to "help friends and harm enemies"?

It's essentially what Athen's thrives to do as a nation


What order is established by the war on the Areopagus?

1. Change of clothing

2. Torchlit procession at the Panathenaic festival

3. Peace between Athens and ARGOS

4. Reconciliation of old and new gods

5. Justice transformed (from violent revenge to jury by peers)


Who is the only one left unsatisfied at the end of the Oresteia trilogy?



What can the Oresteia be compared to?

Hesiod's theogony. From disorder at the beginning to order at the end.