Term 3 - Lecture 1 - Oresteia (Libation Bearers) Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Term 3 - Lecture 1 - Oresteia (Libation Bearers) Deck (20)

Where does the title "Libation Bearers" come from?

A chorus of Trojan slave-women who have been brought back from Troy to Argos to work in the palace of Clytemnestra


Who was the chorus in Agamemnon?

Old men of Argos who could not go to war because they were too old


How does Orestes know how to return home? When does he return to Argos?

He returns when he comes of age, by way of the oracle of Apollo at Delphi


Who is Orestes' companion that returns to Argos with him?



Who tells Orestes that he must kill his mother to avenge Agamemnon?


Orestes sought out the oracle to look for advice on what to do. He is in an impossible position.


How does Orestes arrive in Argos? Who does he reveal himself to?

Orestes arrives disguised as a peddler - he only reveals himself to his sister Electra, who is on his side.

She is at the grave of Agamemnon, crying and calling out for revenge.


Where did Clytemnestra say that Orestes was to Agamemnon?

She says that she sent him away to prevent him from being killed by any of the fathers who lost their sons in the Trojan war


What is the significance of Electra calling out at her father's grave for revenge?

Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides all write about it. There is power in a female voice inciting revenge.


What plan do Orestes and Electra come up with to commit matricide?

They decide to DECEIVE Clytemnestra, just like she did to her husband. They decide to have Orestes and Pylades (disguised) arrive at the doorstep, pretending to bear the news of Orestes' death.


What do the libation bearers do?

They POUR libation onto the grave of Agamemnon by instruction of Clytemnestra, to keep the ghost of Agamemnon at bay


What is the dead hand motif?

When someone is killed by a person who is already dead


What is an example of the dead hand motif not from the Oresteia?

When the centaur Nessus kills Heracles with the poison


How does Orestes use the dead hand motif?

He says that he was killed (when he really wasn't). Electra pretends to mourn his "death"


How does Clytemnestra react to finding out that Orestes is "dead"?

She has a mixed response. Initially she laments, but is later pleased that she no longer has to worry about being murdered by Orestes. The nurse informs the audience that she was actually very pleased. Different because in the first play she is a mother who is sad for having her child taken from her.


Does Orestes hesitate when killing his mother and Aegisthus?

He has no hesitation with Aegisthus.

He only hesitates with Clytemnestra because she appeals to him as his mother by holding out her breast.


Who else holds out their breast?

Hecuba and Helen (and Clytemnestra)


After Clytemnestra holds out her breast, Orestes hesitates. What makes him go through with killing her?

Pylades reminds him. This is his ONLY line in the whole play. He says to remember that Apollo commanded him to do it.


What is the act of killing his mother referred to for Orestes?



What are the Furies also known as?



Who pursues Orestes for committing matricide?

The Furies/Erinyes