The Oresteia (Ancient Greek: Ὀρέστεια) is a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus in the 5th century BC, concerning the murder of Agamemnon by Clytemnestra, the murder of Clytemnestra by Orestes, the trial of Orestes, the end of the curse on the House of Atreus and pacification of the Erinyes. The trilogy—consisting of Agamemnon (Ἀγαμέμνων), The Libation Bearers (Χοηφóρoι), and The Eumenides (Εὐμενίδες)—also shows how the Greek gods interacted with the characters and influenced their decisions pertaining to events and disputes.[1] The only extant example of an ancient Greek theatre trilogy, the Oresteia won first prize at the Dionysia festival in 458 BC. The principal themes of the trilogy include the contrast between revenge and justice, as well as the transition from personal vendetta to organized litigation.[2] Oresteia originally included a satyr play, Proteus (Πρωτεύς), following the tragic trilogy, but all except a single line of Proteus has been lost.


The Murder Of Agamemnon - Project Gutenberg eText 14994
The murder of Agamemnon, from an 1879 illustration from Stories from the Greek Tragedians by Alfred Church
Written byAeschylus
ChorusElders of Argos
SettingArgos, before the royal palace

Agamemnon (Ἀγαμέμνων, Agamémnōn) is the first of the three plays within the Oresteia trilogy. It details the homecoming of Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, from the Trojan War. After ten years of warfare, Troy had fallen and all of Greece could lay claim to victory. Waiting at home for Agamemnon is his wife, Queen Clytemnestra, who has been planning his murder. She desires his death to avenge the sacrifice of her daughter Iphigenia, to exterminate the only thing hindering her from commandeering the crown, and finally be able to publicly embrace her long-time-lover Aegisthus.[3]

The play opens to a watchman looking down and over the sea, reporting that he has been lying restless "like a dog" for a year, waiting to see some sort of signal confirming a Greek victory in Troy. He laments the fortunes of the house, but promises to keep silent: "A huge ox has stepped onto my tongue." The watchman sees a light far off in the distance—a bonfire signaling Troy's fall—and is overjoyed at the victory and hopes for the hasty return of his King, as the house has "wallowed" in his absence. Clytemnestra is introduced to the audience and she declares that there will be celebrations and sacrifices throughout the city as Agamemnon and his army return.

Upon the return of Agamemnon, his wife laments in full view of Argos how horrible the wait for her husband, and King, has been. After her soliloquy, Clytemnestra pleads with and convinces Agamemnon to walk on the robes laid out for him. This is a very ominous moment in the play as loyalties and motives are questioned. The King's new concubine, Cassandra, is now introduced and this immediately spawns hatred from the queen, Clytemnestra. Cassandra is ordered out of her chariot and to the altar where, once she is alone, is heard crying out insane prophecies to Apollo about the death of Agamemnon and her own shared fate.

ORESTEIA Staging - Agamemnon walks on the "Red Carpet"
Agamemnon walks on the carpet of sacred peplos garments

Inside the house a cry is heard; Agamemnon has been stabbed in the bathtub. The chorus separate from one another and ramble to themselves, proving their cowardice, when another final cry is heard. When the doors are finally opened, Clytemnestra is seen standing over the dead bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra. Clytemnestra describes the murder in detail to the chorus, showing no sign of remorse or regret. Suddenly the exiled lover of Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, bursts into the palace to take his place next to her. Aegisthus proudly states that he devised the plan to murder Agamemnon and claim revenge for his father (the father of Aegisthus, Thyestes, was tricked into eating two of his sons by his brother Atreus, the father of Agamemnon). Clytemnestra claims that she and Aegisthus now have all the power and they re-enter the palace with the doors closing behind them.[4]

The Libation Bearers

The Libation Bearers
Orestes Elektra Hermes Louvre K544
Orestes, Electra and Hermes in front of Agamemnon's tomb by Choephoroi Painter
Written byAeschylus
ChorusSlave women
SettingArgos, at the tomb of Agamemnon

In The Libation Bearers (Χοηφóρoι, Choēphóroi)—the second play of Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy—many years after the murder of Agamemnon, his son Orestes returns to Argos with his cousin Pylades to exact vengeance on Clytaemnestra, as an order from Apollo, for killing Agamemnon.[5] Upon arriving, Orestes reunites with his sister Electra at Agamemnon's grave, while she was there bringing libations to Agamemnon in an attempt to stop Clytemnestra's bad dreams.[6] Shortly after the reunion, both Orestes and Electra, influenced by the Chorus, come up with a plan to kill both Clytemnestra and Aegisthus.[7]

Orestes then heads to the palace door where he is unexpectedly greeted by Clytemnestra. In his response to her he pretends he is a stranger and tells Clytemnestra that he (Orestes) is dead, causing her to send for Aegisthus. Unrecognized, Orestes is then able to enter the palace where he then kills Aegisthus, who was without a guard due to the intervention of the Chorus in relaying Clytemnestra's message.[8] Clytemnestra then enters the room. Orestes hesitates to kill her, but Pylades reminds him of Apollo's orders, and he eventually follows through.[6] Consequently, after committing the matricide, Orestes is now the target of the Furies' merciless wrath and has no choice but to flee from the palace.[8]

The Genealogy of Orestes

The Eumenides

The Eumenides
William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The Remorse of Orestes (1862)
Written byAeschylus
ChorusThe Erinyes
Settingbefore the temple of Apollo at Delphi and in Athens

The final play of the Oresteia, called The Eumenides (Εὐμενίδες, Eumenídes), illustrates how the sequence of events in the trilogy end up in the development of social order or a proper judicial system in Athenian society.[1] In this play, Orestes is hunted down and tormented by the Furies, a trio of goddesses known to be the instruments of justice, who are also euphemistically referred to as the "Gracious Ones" (Eumenides). They relentlessly pursue Orestes for the killing of his mother.[9] However, through the intervention of Apollo, Orestes is able to escape them for a brief moment while they are asleep and head to Athens under the protection of Hermes. Seeing the Furies asleep, Clytemnestra's ghost comes to wake them up to obtain justice on her son Orestes for killing her.[10]

After waking up, the Furies hunt down Orestes again and when they find him, Orestes pleads to the goddess Athena for help and she responds by setting up a trial for him in Athens on the Areopagus. This trial is made up of a group of twelve Athenian citizens and is supervised by none other than Athena herself. Here Orestes is used as a trial dummy by Athena to set-up the first courtroom trial. He is also the object of central focus between the Furies, Apollo, and Athena.[1] After the trial comes to an end, the votes are tied. Athena casts the deciding vote and determines that Orestes will not be killed.[11] This ultimately does not sit well with the Furies, but Athena eventually persuades them to accept the decision and, instead of violently retaliating against wrongdoers, become a constructive force of vigilance in Athens. She then changes their names from the Furies to "the Eumenides" which means "the Kindly Ones".[12] Athena then ultimately rules that all trials must henceforth be settled in court rather than being carried out personally.[12]


Proteus (Πρωτεύς, Prōteus), the satyr play which originally followed the first three plays of The Oresteia, is lost except for a two-line fragment preserved by Athenaeus. However, it is widely believed to have been based on the story told in Book IV of Homer's Odyssey, where Menelaus, Agamemnon's brother, attempts to return home from Troy and finds himself on an island off Egypt, "whither he seems to have been carried by the storm described in Agam.674.[13] The title character, "the deathless Egyptian Proteus", the Old Man of the Sea, is described in Homer as having been visited by Menelaus seeking to learn his future. In the process, Proteus tells Menelaus of the death of Agamemnon at the hands of Aegisthus as well as the fates of Ajax the Lesser and Odysseus at sea; and is compelled to tell Menelaus how to reach home from the island of Pharos. "The satyrs who may have found themselves on the island as a result of shipwreck . . . perhaps gave assistance to Menelaus and escaped with him, though he may have had difficulty in ensuring that they keep their hands off Helen"[14] The only extant fragment that has been definitively attributed to Proteus was translated by Herbert Weir Smyth as "A wretched piteous dove, in quest of food, dashed amid the winnowing-fans, its breast broken in twain."[15] In 2002, Theatre Kingston mounted a production of The Oresteia and included a new reconstruction of Proteus based on the episode in The Odyssey and loosely arranged according to the structure of extant satyr plays.

Analysis of themes

In this trilogy there are multiple themes carried through all three plays. Other themes can be found and in one, or two, of the three plays, but are not applicable to the Trilogy as a whole and thus are not considered themes of the trilogy.

Justice through retaliation

Retaliation is seen in the Oresteia in a slippery slope form, occurring subsequently after the actions of one character to another. In the first play Agamemnon, it is mentioned how in order to shift the wind for his voyage to Troy, Agamemnon had to sacrifice his innocent daughter Iphigenia.[16] This then caused Clytemnestra pain and eventually anger which resulted in her plotting revenge on Agamemnon. Therefore, she found a new lover Aegisthus. And when Agamemnon returned to Argos from the Trojan War, Clytemnestra killed him by stabbing him in the bathtub and would eventually inherit his throne.[2] The death of Agamemnon thus sparks anger in Orestes and Electra and this causes them to now plot the death of their mother Clytemnestra in the next play Libation Bearers, which would be considered matricide. Through much pressure from Electra and his cousin Pylades Orestes eventually kills his mother Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus in "The Libation Bearers".[16] Now after committing the matricide, Orestes is being hunted down by the Furies in the third play "The Eumenides", who wish to exact vengeance on him for this crime. And even after he gets away from them Clytemnestra's spirit comes back to rally them again so that they can kill Orestes and obtain vengeance for her.[16] However this cycle of non-stop retaliation comes to a stop near the end of The Eumenides when Athena decides to introduce a new legal system for dealing out justice.[2]

Justice through the law

This part of the theme of 'justice' in The Oresteia is seen really only in The Eumenides, however its presence still marks the shift in themes. After Orestes begged Athena for deliverance from 'the Erinyes,' she granted him his request in the form of a trial.[1] It is important that Athena did not just forgive Orestes and forbid the Furies from chasing him, she intended to put him to a trial and find a just answer to the question regarding his innocence. This is the first example of proper litigation in the trilogy and illuminates the change from emotional retaliation to civilized decisions regarding alleged crimes.[17] Instead of allowing the Furies to torture Orestes, she decided that she would have both the Furies and Orestes plead their case before she decided on the verdict. In addition, Athena set up the ground rules for how the verdict would be decided so that everything would be dealt with fairly. By Athena creating this blueprint the future of revenge-killings and the merciless hunting of the Furies would be eliminated from Greece. Once the trial concluded, Athena proclaimed the innocence of Orestes and he was set free from the Furies. The cycle of murder and revenge had come to an end while the foundation for future litigation had been laid.[11] Aeschylus, through his jury trial, was able to create and maintain a social commentary about the limitations of revenge crimes and reiterate the importance of trials.[18] The Oresteia, as a whole, stands as a representation of the evolution of justice in Ancient Greece.[19]

Moral responsibility

There are many didactic motives in the Oresteia, one of them being the matter of moral responsibility. The characters in the play often face difficulty when it comes to accepting the blame for their actions. Two main characters that are prime examples of this are Orestes and Agamemnon. Moral responsibility is "the status of morally deserving praise, blame, reward, or punishment for an act or omission, in accordance with one's moral obligations." This concept, however, is not exactly equivalent with legal responsibility and so it should be viewed and treated differently. It can be argued that Agamemnon did not accept moral responsibility for sacrificing his daughter, Iphigenia, in order to be able to sail to Troy without the wind interfering. This does not mean that Agamemnon was not morally responsible. Both sides of the argument stand; that because of the circumstances surrounding his actions, Agamemnon cannot be seen as morally responsible, or, no matter the circumstances, he was morally responsible for killing his daughter. Orestes’ moral responsibility can also be argued, as it can be said that he took moral responsibility for his act of matricide. However, with Apollo stepping in to tell the truth about what had occurred, that he had in fact pushed Orestes to kill his own mother, Orestes can be seen to hold no moral responsibility over the death of Clytemnestra. Clytemnestra is another character that is able to be analyzed in terms of moral responsibility, her premeditated killing of Agamemnon was an act of revenge and allows for us to see her as morally responsible for her husband's death.


The theme of revenge plays a large role in the Oresteia. It is easily seen as a principal motivator of the actions of almost all of the characters. It all starts in Agamemnon with Clytemnestra, who murders her husband, Agamemnon, in order to obtain vengeance for his sacrificing of their daughter, Iphigenia. The death of Cassandra, the princess of Troy, taken captive by Agamemnon in order to fill a place as a concubine, can also be seen as an act of revenge for taking another woman as well as the life of Iphigenia. Later on, in The Libation Bearers, Orestes and Electra, siblings as well as the other children of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, plot to kill their mother and succeed in doing so due to their desire to avenge their father's death. The Eumenides is the last book in which the Furies, who are in fact the goddesses of vengeance, seek to take revenge on Orestes for the murder of his mother. It is also in this part of the novel that it is discovered that the god Apollo played a part in the act of vengeance toward Clytemnestra through Orestes. The cycle of revenge seems to be broken when Orestes is not killed by the Furies, but is instead allowed to be set free and deemed innocent by the goddess Athena. The entirety of the play's plot is dependent upon the theme of revenge, as it is the cause of almost all of the effects within the play.

Relation to the Curse of the House of Atreus

The House of Atreus began with Tantalus, son of Zeus, who murdered his son, Pelops, and attempted to feed him to the gods. The gods, however, were not easily tricked and so banished Tantalus to the Underworld and brought his son back to life. Later in life Pelops and his family line were cursed by Myrtilus, a son of Hermes, catalyzing the curse of House Atreus. Pelops had two children, Atreus and Thyestes, who are said to have killed their half-brother Chrysippus, and were therefore banished.

Thyestes and Aerope, Atreus’ wife, were found out to be having an affair, and in an act of vengeance, Atreus murdered his brother's sons, cooked them, and then fed them to Thyestes. Thyestes had a son with his daughter and named him Aegisthus, who went on to kill Atreus.

Atreus’ children were Agamemnon, Menelaus, and Anaxibia. Leading up to here, we can see that the curse of the House of Atreus was one forged from murder and deceit, and continued in this way for generations through the family line. To put it simply, the curse demands blood for blood, a never ending cycle of murder within the family.

Those who join the family seem to play a part in the curse as well, as is seen with Clytemnestra when she murders her husband Agamemnon, as an act of revenge for him sacrificing their daughter, Iphigenia.[20] Orestes, goaded by his sister Electra, murders Clytemnestra in order to exact revenge for her killing his father.

Orestes is said to be the end of the curse of the House of Atreus. The curse holds a major part in the Oresteia and is mentioned in it multiple times, making it obvious that many of the characters are very aware of the curse's existence. Aeschylus was able to use the curse in his play as an ideal formulation of tragedy in his writing.

Contemporary background

Some scholars believe that the trilogy is influenced by contemporary political developments in Athens. A few years previously, legislation sponsored by the democratic reformer Ephialtes had stripped the court of the Areopagus, hitherto one of the most powerful vehicles of upper-class political power, of all of its functions except some minor religious duties and the authority to try homicide cases; by having his story being resolved by a judgement of the Areopagus, Aeschylus may be expressing his approval of this reform. It may also be significant that Aeschylus makes Agamemnon lord of Argos, not, as Homer did, of nearby Mycenae, since about this time Athens had entered into an alliance with Argos.[21]


Key British productions

In 1981, Sir Peter Hall directed Tony Harrison's adaptation of the trilogy in masks in London's Royal National Theatre.[22] In 1999, Katie Mitchell followed him at the same venue (though in the Cottesloe Theatre, where Hall had directed in the Olivier Theatre) with a production which used Ted Hughes' translation.[23] In 2015, Robert Icke's production of his own adaptation premiered at the Almeida Theatre and transferred to the West End. Two other productions happened in the UK that year, in Manchester and at Shakespeare's Globe.[24] The following year, in 2016, playwright Zinnie Harris premiered her adaptation, This Restless House, at the Citizen's Theatre to five-star critical acclaim.[25]

Other adaptations

The Spaghetti Western The Forgotten Pistolero, is based on the myth and set in Mexico following the Second Mexican Empire. Ferdinando Baldi, who directed the film, was also a professor of classical literature who specialized in Greek tragedy.[26][27][28][29]

In 1887–1894 Composer Sergei Taneyev adapted the trilogy into his own operatic trilogy of the same name, which was premiered in 1895.
In 1965-66 Composer Iannis Xenakis adapted vocal work for chorus and 12 instruments
In 1967 composer Felix Werder adapted the first play of the trilogy into an opera entitled Agamemnon.[30]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d Porter, David (2005). "Aeschylus' "Eumenides": Some Contrapuntal Lines". The American Journal of Philology. 126: 301–331. JSTOR 3804934.
  2. ^ a b c Euben, J. Peter (March 1982). "Justice and the Oresteia". The American Political Science Review. 76 (1): 22–33. doi:10.2307/1960439. JSTOR 1960439.
  3. ^ Burke, Kenneth (July–September 1952). "Form and Persecution in the Oresteia". The Sewanee Review. 60 (3): 377–396. JSTOR 27538150.
  4. ^ Aeschylus (1975). The Oresteia. New York, New York: Penguin Group. pp. 103–172. ISBN 978-0-14-044333-2.
  5. ^ Vellacot, Philip. "Aeschylus' Orestes". The Johns Hopkins University Press on behalf of the Classical Association of the Atlantic States. JSTOR 4349540.
  6. ^ a b O'Neill, K. "Aeschylus, Homer, and the Serpent at the Breast". Classical Association of Canada. JSTOR 1088668.
  7. ^ Kells, J. H. "More Notes on Euripides' Electra". Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association. JSTOR 637530.
  8. ^ a b H., R. "Orestes Sarcophagus and Greek Accessions". Cleveland Museum of Art. JSTOR 25137120.
  9. ^ Henrichs, Albert. "Anonymity and Polarity: Unknown Gods and Nameless Altars at the Areopagos". University of Illinois Press. JSTOR 23065418.
  10. ^ Trousdell, Richard. "Tragedy and Transformation: The Oresteia of Aeschylus". C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. JSTOR 10.1525/jung.2008.2.3.5.
  11. ^ a b Hester, D. A. "The Casting Vote". The Johns Hopkins University Press. JSTOR 294130.
  12. ^ a b Mace, Sarah. "Why the Oresteia's Sleeping Dead Won't Lie, Part II: "Choephoroi" and "Eumenides"". The Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Inc. (CAMWS). JSTOR 4133005.
  13. ^ Smyth, H.W. (1930). Aeschylus: Agamemnon, Libation-Bearers, Eumenides, Fragments. Harvard University Press. p. 455. ISBN 0-674-99161-3.
  14. ^ Alan Sommerstein: Aeschylus Fragments, Loeb Classical Library, 2008
  15. ^ Smyth, H. W. (1930). Aeschylus: Agamemnon, Libation-Bearers, Eumenides, Fragments. Harvard University Press. p. 455. ISBN 0-674-99161-3.
  16. ^ a b c Scott, William. "Wind Imagery in the Oresteia". The Johns Hopkins University Press. JSTOR 2936026.
  17. ^ Burke, Kenneth (1952). "Form and Persecution in the Oresteia". The Sewanee Review. 20: 377–396.
  18. ^ Raaflaub, Kurt (1974). "Conceptualizing and Theorizing Peace in Ancient Greece". Transactions of the American Philosophical Association. 129: 225–250. JSTOR 40651971.
  19. ^ Trousdell, Richard (2008). "Tragedy and Transformation: The Oresteia of Aeschylus". Jung Jornal: Culture and Psyche. 2: 5–38.
  20. ^ Zeitlin, Froma I. (1966-01-01). "Postscript to Sacrificial Imagery in the Oresteia (Ag. 1235–37)". Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. 97: 645–653. doi:10.2307/2936034. JSTOR 2936034.
  21. ^ Bury, J. B.; Meiggs, Russell (1956). A history of Greece to the death of Alexander the Great, 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 347–348, 352.
  22. ^ "Sir Peter Hall | National Theatre". www.nationaltheatre.org.uk. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  23. ^ "An inexhaustible masterpiece is transformed into a glib anti-war morality play". 1999-12-03. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  24. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (2015-07-30). "Ancient Greek tragedy Oresteia receives surprise West End transfer". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  25. ^ "This Restless House five star review Zinnie Harris". The Guardian.
  26. ^ Silvia Dionisio. "Terror Express".
  27. ^ "Fistful of Pasta: Texas Adios".
  28. ^ "The Forgotten Pistolero Review". The Spaghetti Western Database.
  29. ^ "The Forgotten Pistolero Review by Korano". The Spaghetti Western Database.
  30. ^ * Thérèse Radic. "Agamemnon", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed October 15, 2015), (subscription access)


  • Collard, Christopher (2002). Introduction to and translation of Oresteia. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-283281-6.
  • Widzisz, Marcel (2012). Chronos on the Threshold: Time, Ritual, and Agency in the Oresteia. Lexington Press. ISBN 0-7391-7045-7.
  • MacLeod, C. W. "Politics and the Oresteia." The Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 102, 1982, pp. 124–144.

Further reading

  • Barbara Goward (2005). Aeschylus: Agamemnon. Duckworth Companions to Greek and Roman Tragedy. London: Duckworth. ISBN 978-0-7156-3385-4.

External links

2016 Laurence Olivier Awards

The 2016 Laurence Olivier Awards were held on Sunday 3 April 2016 at the Royal Opera House, London. The 40th anniversary ceremony was hosted by Michael Ball. A highlights show was broadcast on ITV shortly after the live event ended.

Achilleis (trilogy)

The Achilleis (after the Ancient Greek Ἀχιλληΐς, Achillēis, pronounced [akʰillɛːís]) is a lost trilogy by the Athenian dramatist Aeschylus. The three plays that make up the Achilleis exist today only in fragments, but aspects of their overall content can be reconstructed with reasonable certainty. Like the Oresteia which forms "a narratively connected unit with a continuous plot," the trilogy had a unified focus, presumably treating the story of Achilles at Troy in a version comparable to the plot of the latter two-thirds of the Iliad. In the Myrmidons (Μυρμιδόνες, Myrmidónes), Achilles' refusal to fight after his quarrel with Agamemnon led to the death of Patroclus. The title of the play traditionally placed second in the trilogy is the Nereids (Νηρείδες, Nēreídes). The chorus was thus a group of Nereids, and the subject of the play involved Achilles and his Nereid mother Thetis, probably her mourning his imminent death and the acquisition of his new arms. In the Phrygians (Φρύγες, Phrýges) or Ransom of Hector (Ἕκτορος λύτρα, Héktoros lútra), Priam and a chorus of Phrygians sought to retrieve Hector's body from the still wroth Achilles.Neither the trilogy's title Achilleis nor the grouping of the plays is explicitly attested from antiquity, but the existence of a unified trilogy with Achilles as its focus has long been accepted by modern scholars. In his commentary on The Libation Bearers, Garvie states that it is "highly likely that Aeschylus often, though not always (of the surviving plays Persae is an almost certain exception) composed trilogies consisting of tragedies connected in their subject matter." In addition to the Oresteia (to which 'The Libation Bearers' belongs), the Seven Against Thebes and Suppliants formed part of connected trilogies, as did the lost plays that make up the Lycurgeia.

The satyr plays that accompanied these examples had plots related to those of the tragedies, and it has been suggested that the Achilleis might also have been followed by a comedic play related to its dramatic content, but there is no evidence as to what the subject of this satyr play might have been.Since the Achilleis survives in fragments, its text is comparatively more fluid than that of ancient texts with medieval manuscript traditions. During the first half of the 20th century papyrus fragments of numerous lost Aeschylean plays, including the Myrmidons, were discovered that added much material to, and greatly altered the modern conception of, the dramatist's corpus. Given this fluidity, it is especially important to consult the most current critical edition or translations of the text, since earlier editions will likely not reflect the advances of the past century. In the case of the fragments of Aeschylus, the edition of record is the third volume of Tragicorum Graecorum fragmenta edited by Stefan Radt (1985). While it is now customary to refer to the text and numeration of Radt, the majority of the fragments of the Achilleis can also be found in Mette's 1959 edition. For example, fr. 140 Radt and 232 Mette refer to the same three-word fragment of the Myrmidons, uttered (in Mette's opinion) by Achilles: "Arms! I want arms!" (ὅπλων ὅπλων δεῖ, hóplōn hóplōn deî). Sommerstein's Loeb is the most current English translation and follows the numeration of Radt, as does this article.

Acme siren

The Acme siren is a musical instrument used in concert bands for comic effect. Often used in cartoons, it produces the stylized sound of a police siren. It is one of the few aerophones in the percussion section of an orchestra.

The instrument is typically made of metal and is cylindrical. Inside the cylinder is a type of fan-blade which, when the performer blows through one end, spins and creates the sound. The faster the performer blows, the faster the fan-blade moves and the higher the pitch the instrument creates. Conversely, the slower the performer blows, the lower the pitch.Iannis Xenakis used it in the 1960s in his works Oresteia, Terretektorh and Persephassa.A Siren was used in Bob Dylan's classic album, Highway 61 Revisited.

Acme is the trade name of J Hudson & Co of Birmingham, England, who developed and patented the Acme Siren in 1895. It was sometimes known as "the cyclist's road clearer".Kyle Reilly will use it in "Curious George: The Original Story" for narrator and orchestra, and the song "I'm No Girls Toy" from "Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure".


Aegisthus (; Ancient Greek: Αἴγισθος; also transliterated as Aigisthos, [ǎi̯ɡistʰos]) was a figure in Greek mythology. Aegisthus is known from two primary sources of Greek mythology. The first is Homer's Odyssey, believed to have been first written down by Homer at the end of the 8th century BC, and the second from Aeschylus's Oresteia, written in the 5th century, BC.


Aeschylus (UK: , US: ; Greek: Αἰσχύλος Aiskhylos, pronounced [ai̯s.kʰý.los]; c. 525/524 – c. 456/455 BC) was an ancient Greek tragedian. He is often described as the father of tragedy. Academics' knowledge of the genre begins with his work, and understanding of earlier tragedies is largely based on inferences from his surviving plays. According to Aristotle, he expanded the number of characters in the theater and allowed conflict among them; characters previously had interacted only with the chorus.Only seven of his estimated seventy to ninety plays have survived, and there is a long-standing debate regarding his authorship of one of these plays, Prometheus Bound, which some believe his son Euphorion actually wrote. Fragments of some other plays have survived in quotations and more continue to be discovered on Egyptian papyrus, often giving further insights into his work. He was probably the first dramatist to present plays as a trilogy; his Oresteia is the only ancient example of the form to have survived. At least one of his plays was influenced by the Persians' second invasion of Greece (480–479 BC). This work, The Persians, is the only surviving classical Greek tragedy concerned with contemporary events (very few of that kind were ever written), and a useful source of information about its period. The significance of war in Ancient Greek culture was so great that Aeschylus' epitaph commemorates his participation in the Greek victory at Marathon while making no mention of his success as a playwright. Despite this, Aeschylus's work – particularly the Oresteia – is generally acclaimed by modern critics and scholars.

Anna Javorková

Anna Javorková (born 8 October 1952) is a Slovak actress. Javorková studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU), joining the Slovak National Theatre in 1974. At the 2013 DOSKY Awards she won in the category of Best Actress, for her performances as Clytemnestra in the play Oresteia at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava.


Clytemnestra (; Greek: Κλυταιμνήστρα, Klytaimnḗstra, [klytai̯mnɛ̌ːstra]) was the wife of Agamemnon and queen of Mycenae (or sometimes Argos) in ancient Greek legend. In the Oresteia by Aeschylus, she murdered Agamemnon – said by Euripides to be her second husband – and the Trojan princess Cassandra, whom he had taken as a war prize following the sack of Troy; however, in Homer's Odyssey, her role in Agamemnon's death is unclear and her character is significantly more subdued.

Greg Hicks

Greg Hicks (born 27 May 1953) is an English actor. He completed theatrical training at Rose Bruford College and has been a member of The Royal Shakespeare Company since 1976. He was nominated for a 2004 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in the category "Best Actor of 2003" for his performance in Coriolanus at the Old Vic and was awarded the 2003 Critics' Circle Theatre Awards (Drama) for Best Shakespearian Performance in the same role.Hicks has practised the Brazilian hybrid of martial arts and dance capoeira, as well as the Japanese dance-theatre form butoh. He has said that he started to explore the physicality associated with these disciplines in a masked production of Oresteia (1981), directed by his mentor at the National Theatre, Peter Hall. In 2016, he toured with Flute Theatre as Claudius in a production of Hamlet, who's there? written for interactive audiences.

L'Orestie d'Eschyle

L'Orestie d'Eschyle is a French-language opera by Darius Milhaud based on The Oresteia triptych by Aeschylus in a French translation by his collaborator Paul Claudel.

Milhaud set a scene of the first play, Agamemnon, for soprano and chorus in 1913. The second part, Les Choéphores, The Libation Bearers dates from 1922. The very extensive third part, Les Euménides The Furies, was completed in 1923. The opera was partially performed in March 1931, but not performed complete till 1963 in Berlin.

Les Érinnyes

Les Érinnyes (The Erinyes) is a French language verse drama written by Leconte de Lisle and premièred at the Théâtre de l'Odéon in 1873. It is in the style of a Greek tragedy, in two acts: Klytaimnestra (Clytemnestra) and Orestès (Orestes). It was an adaptation of the first two parts of Aeschylus' Oresteia (Agamemnon and Libation Bearers). The text was printed in de Lisle's collection Poèmes Tragiques.

List of paintings by Francis Bacon

This is an incomplete list of paintings by the Irish-born British painter Francis Bacon (1909 – 1992).

Mourning Becomes Electra

Mourning Becomes Electra is a play cycle written by American playwright Eugene O'Neill. The play premiered on Broadway at the Guild Theatre on 26 October 1931 where it ran for 150 performances before closing in March 1932. In May 1932, it was revived at the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon Theatre), and in 1972 at the Circle in the Square Theatre.

Oresteia (opera)

Oresteia (Орестея in Cyrillic) is an opera in three parts, eight tableaux, with music by Sergei Taneyev, composed during 1887-1894. The composer titled this work, his only opera, a "musical trilogy." The Russian libretto was adapted by A.A. Wenkstern from The Oresteia of Aeschylus. The opera was premiered on October 29 [O.S. October 17] 1895 at the Mariinsky Theatre. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov wrote that soon after the premiere, the Mariinsky management made cuts to the opera, which angered Taneyev.The best-known excerpt from Oresteia is the entr'acte played before the second tableau of Part III, "The Temple of Apollo at Delphi." This passage, as well as other themes from the opera, figured into one of Taneyev's other works, namely, his orchestral overture entitled Oresteia (1889). This overture—not included in the printed score of this opera—constitutes a separate 18-minute-long symphonic poem based on themes from the trilogy.

Passages in the overture echo the UK's & other nations' National Anthem, "God Save the Queen", whose melody lies in antiquity.

Harlow Robinson has noted that the opera avoids dramatic treatment of the murders of Agamemnon, Cassandra, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, depicting those events off-stage.


The Prometheia (Ancient Greek: Προμήθεια) is a trilogy of plays about the titan Prometheus. It was attributed in Antiquity to the 5th-century BC Greek tragedian Aeschylus. Though an Alexandrian catalogue of Aeschylean play titles designates the trilogy Hoi Prometheis ("the Prometheuses"), in modern scholarship the trilogy has been designated the Prometheia to mirror the title of Aeschylus' only extant trilogy, the Oresteia. Unlike the Oresteia, only one play from this trilogy—Prometheus Bound—survives. Inasmuch as the authorship of Prometheus Bound continues to be debated, the very existence of a Prometheus trilogy is uncertain. To the extent that modern scholars postulate the existence of such a trilogy by a single author, the consensus holds that it comprised Prometheus Bound, Prometheus Unbound, and Prometheus the Fire-Bringer, in that order.

Robert Icke

Robert Icke (born November 29, 1986) is an English writer and theatre director. He has been referred to as the "great hope of British theatre."He is currently the Associate Director of London's Almeida Theatre. He is best known for his modern adaptations of classic texts, including versions of Oresteia, Mary Stuart, Uncle Vanya, and 1984, devised with Duncan Macmillan.

The Flies

The Flies (French: Les Mouches) is a play by Jean-Paul Sartre, written in 1943. It is an adaptation of the Electra myth, previously used by the Greek playwrights Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides.

The play recounts the story of Orestes and his sister Electra in their quest to avenge the death of their father Agamemnon, king of Argos, by killing their mother Clytemnestra and her husband Aegisthus, who had deposed and killed him.

Sartre incorporates an existentialist theme into the play, having Electra and Orestes engaged in a battle with Zeus and his Furies, who are the gods of Argos and the centerpiece for self-abnegating religious rituals. This results in fear and a lack of autonomy for Zeus's worshippers, who live in constant shame of their humanity.

The House of Atreus Act II

The House of Atreus Act II, released in 2000, is the tenth studio album by the American heavy metal band Virgin Steele. It was released as a double CD album. This album is the second and final part of a metal opera inspired by the Oresteia, a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus which concerns the end of the curse on the House of Atreus. The music was intended to be the soundtrack for theatrical shows, with actors impersonating the characters of the tragedy. The metal opera was actually performed under the name "Klytaimnestra - The House Of Atreus" in European theatres from 1999 to 2001, with the production of the Memmingen Opera House company and Landestheater Production.

The Oresteia in the arts and popular culture

Reflections of the Oresteia in the arts and popular culture show the influence of the classic trilogy of tragedies by Aeschylus.

Tony Harrison

Tony Harrison (born 30 April 1937) is an English poet, translator and playwright. He was born in Leeds and he received his education in Classics from Leeds Grammar School and Leeds University. He is one of Britain's foremost verse writers and many of his works have been performed at the Royal National Theatre. He is noted for controversial works such as the poem "V", as well as his versions of dramatic works: from ancient Greek such as the tragedies Oresteia and Lysistrata, from French Molière's The Misanthrope, from Middle English The Mysteries. He is also noted for his outspoken views, particularly those on the Iraq War. In 2015, he was honoured with the David Cohen Prize in recognition for his body of work.

Plays by Aeschylus
Extant plays
Fragmentary plays

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