Oresteia Morality Essay
In Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and Libation Bearers he uses morally ambiguous characters such as Orestes and Clytaemnestra to challenge the reader to ponder the fine or nonexistent line between right and wrong. Both Orestes and Clytaemnestra have done things to hint at them being solely evil or good, however many of their character traits and less significant actions lead to the reader being incapable of categorizing them as simply good or bad. By making these characters morally ambiguous Aeschylus is able to show the thin division between competing conceptions of right and wrong and to allow the audience to consider their own morality. Orestes will always be known as the man who slayed his own mother and her lover, a crime worse than simple murder, as it was of his own kin. The murder stems from anger with his mother; “Oh she’ll pay, she’ll pay, by the gods and these bare hands – just let me take her life and die!” (Aeschylus 425-427), he is angry enough to already want to kill her as soon as he finds out about what she has done. However it is not until one delves deeper into the story that they find out that Orestes is not only not a bad person, but mostly one of good. Orestes is driven to kill his own mother to avenge his father who was murdered by Clytaemnestra. “Orestes plots the death of his mother to avenge the murder of his father.” (Hawk 2) He is devastated by his father’s death and he calls out to Agamemnon, “I am calling you, my father – be with all you love!” (Aeschylus 444). In the grand scheme of things, the murder stopped the city of Argos from falling into the corrupted hands of his mom and Aegisthus. It also finally ends the curse on the house of Atreus. Clytaemnestra is a character that can be mostly classified as evil as she killed a member of her family as well, however there are many differences in the two murders. Orestes was motivated by a God. Apollo convinced him to get revenge for his father; it was not a mere...
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