Orestes’ Revenge (page 683, with art)

Chapter 17, The Return from Troy

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Euripides, Elektra 1238-63

The Dioskouroi appear from above.

Son of Agamemnon, listen; the twin sons of Zeus, your mother’s brothers, [1240]Castor and his brother Polydeuces, are calling you. Having just now calmed the swell of the sea, terrible for ships, we have come to Argos when we saw the slaying of our sister, your mother. Now she has her just reward, but you have not acted justly, [1245] and Phoebus, Phoebus—but I am silent, for he is my lord; although he is wise, he gave you oracles that were not. But it is necessary to accept these things. As to what remains, you must do what Fate and Zeus have accomplished for you.

Give Electra to Pylades as his wife to take to his home; [1250] but you leave Argos; for it is not for you, who killed your mother, to set foot in this city. And the dread goddesses of death, the one who glare like hounds, will drive you up and down, a maddened wanderer. Go to Athens and embrace the holy image of Pallas; [1255] for she will prevent them, flickering with dreadful serpents, from touching you, as she stretches over your head her Gorgon-faced shield. There is a hill of Ares, where the gods first sat over their votes to decide on bloodshed, [1260] when savage Ares killed Halirrothius, son of the ocean’s ruler, in anger for the unholy violation of his daughter, so that the tribunal is most sacred and secure in the eyes of the gods.  Greek Text

Euripides, Iphigeneia among the Tauroi 12-19

Let nothing hold me back; nor will it prevent me speaking before I first find out Electra’s fate, for you are all dear to me.

[915] She lives with this man, and has a happy life.

What country is he from, and who is his father?

Strophius of Phocis is the name of his father.

He is related to me, by the daughter of Atreus?

He is a cousin, and my only true friend.  Greek Text

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2.29.4

Asius the epic poet says that to Phocus were born Panopeus and Crisus. To Panopeus was born Epeus, who made, according to Homer, the wooden horse; and the grandson of Crisus was Pylades, whose father was Strophius, son of Crisus, while his mother was Anaxibi ,sister of Agamemnon. Such was the pedigree of the Aeacidae (family of. Aeacus), as they are called, but they departed from the beginning to other lands.  Greek Text

Scholia at Euripides, Orestes 765 – Scholia in Euripidem, vol. 1, p. 174, ed. E. Schwartz. Berlin 1887.

Greek Text

Scholia at Euripides, Orestes 1233 – Scholia in Euripidem, vol. 1, p. 211, ed. E. Schwartz. Berlin 1887.

Greek Text

Scholia at Euripides, Orestes 33 – Scholia in Euripidem, vol. 1, p. 101, ed. E. Schwartz. Berlin 1887.

Greek Text

Scholia at Euripides, Orestes 1233 – Scholia in Euripidem, vol. 1, p. 211, ed. E. Schwartz. Berlin 1887.

See above

Hyginus, Fabulae 117

Strophius had married Agamemnon’s sister, Astyoche.  Latin Text

Euripides, Orestes

Before the royal palace at Argos. It is the sixth day after the murder of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. Electra is discovered alone. Orestes lies sleeping on a couch in the background.

There is nothing so terrible to describe, or suffering, or heaven-sent affliction, that human nature may not have to bear the burden of it. The blessed Tantalus—and I am not now taunting him with his misfortunes— [5] Tantalus, the reputed son of Zeus, flies in the air, quailing at the rock which looms above his head; paying this penalty, they say, for the shameful weakness he displayed in failing to keep a bridle on his lips, when admitted by gods, though he was a man, [10] to share the honors of their feasts like one of them. He begot Pelops, the father of Atreus, for whom the goddess, when she had carded her wool, spun a web of strife—to make war with his own brother Thyestes. But why need I retrace that hideous tale? [15] Well, Atreus slew Thyestes’ children and feasted him on them. Atreus, now; I pass over intermediate events; from Atreus and Aerope of Crete were born the famous Agamemnon, if he really was famous, and Menelaus. Now Menelaus married Helen, [20] the gods’ abhorrence; while lord Agamemnon married Clytemnestra, notorious in Hellas; and we three daughters were born: Chrysothemis, Iphigenia, and myself, Electra; also a son Orestes; all from that one accursed mother, [25] who slew her husband, after snaring him in an inextricable robe. Her reason a maiden’s lips may not declare, and so I leave it unclear for the world to guess at. What need for me to charge Phoebus with wrong-doing? Though he persuaded Orestes [30] to slay his own mother, a deed that few approved. Still it was his obedience to the god that made him kill her; I had a share in the murder, in so far as a woman could, [and Pylades, who helped us to bring it about.]  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Euripides, Orestes 1625-65

Apollo appears from above with Helen.

[1625] Menelaus, calm your anger that has been whetted; I am Phoebus, the son of Leto, drawing near to call you by name. And you also, Orestes, who are keeping guard on the girl, sword in hand, so that you may hear what I have come to say. Helen, whom all your eagerness [1630] failed to destroy, when you were seeking to anger Menelaus, [is here as you see in the enfolding air, rescued from death and not slain by you.] I saved her and snatched her from beneath your sword at the bidding of father Zeus, [1635] for she, his child, must be immortal, and take her seat with Castor and Polydeuces in the enfolding air, a savior to mariners. Choose another bride and take her to your home; for the gods by that one’s loveliness [1640] joined Troy and Hellas in battle, causing death so that they might draw off from the earth the outrage of unstinting numbers of mortals.

So much for Helen; as for you, Orestes, you must cross the broders of this land [1645] and dwell for one whole year on Parrhasian soil, which from your flight shall be called the land of Orestes by Azanians and Arcadians. And when you return from there to the city of Athens, undergo your trial by the Avenging Three for your mother’s murder; [1650] the gods will be arbitrators of your trial, and will take a most righteous vote on you at the hill of Ares, where you are to win your case. And it is destined, Orestes, that you will marry Hermione, at whose neck you are holding your sword; [1655] Neoptolemus shall never marry her, though he thinks he will; for he is fated to die by a Delphian sword, when he claims satisfaction of me for the death of his father Achilles. Give your sister in marriage to Pylades, to whom you formerly promised her; the life awaiting him is one of happiness.

[1660] Menelaus, leave Orestes to rule Argos; go and reign over the Spartan land, keeping it as the dowry of a wife who till this day never ceased causing you innumerable troubles. I will set matters straight between Orestes and the citizens, [1665] for I forced him to murder his motherGreek Text

Euripides, Elektra 1273-74

You must found an Arcadian city beside the streams of Alpheus near the sacred enclosure to Lycaean Apollo.  Greek Text

Florence, Museo Archeologico 4 B 19 et al.: fragments of Attic red-figure cup with alarmed Chrysothemis?, and Klytaimestra trying to restrain Orestes as he slays a collapsed Aigisthos with his sword; Elektra (wrongly restored as Athena) rushes in from the right 

Reconstruction drawing from P. Hartwig, Die griechische Meisterschalen (1893), p. 29 fig. 3a

Google Books

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Digital LIMC (no photo)

Oxford, Ashmolean Museum 1973.1032: fragment of Attic red-figure cup with legs of Orestes and collapsed Aigisthos (part of his inscribed name survives) in a pose similar to that of previous cup

Beazley Archive Pottery Database (no photo)

Digital LIMC (no photo)

Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum IV 3725 (333): Attic red-figure pelike by Berlin Painter with Talthybios restraining Klytaimestra’s axe as she rushes forward (side A); on side B, the story continues with an alarmed Chrysothemis rushing to the left and Orestes slaying an enthroned Aigisthos with his sword

Side A

Side B

Both views from A. Furtwaengler and K. Reichhold, Griechische Vasenmalerei: Auswahl hervorragender Vasenbilder (Serie II, 1909), pl. 72

Side A, from History of Ancient Rome

Side B, from History of Ancient Rome

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Attic Vase Inscriptions

Digital LIMC

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Artistic sources edited by Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, August 2022

Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, March 2023

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