Oresteia Paper - the Transformation of Justice

1481 words 6 pages
The Transformation of Justice

A cycle of murder and death spurs from the curse on the House of Atreus in Aeschylus’ The Oresteia but transforms from justice as vengeance to justice as fairness and forgiveness through the wisdom of Athena, establishing a new cycle of growth and life. The curse upon the House of Atreus was brought forth through the event of Zeus’ eagles devouring a pregnant hare which angered Artemis for she is the goddess of young animals and creatures. The big black bird swoops down and “plunged their claws in a hare, a mother bursting with unborn young—the babies spilling, quick spurts of blood-cut off the race just dashing into life!” and instantly this brings forth the curse (A 122-124). The death of the hare’s
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The chorus expresses their concern on the House of Atreus and fear that “the heavy rains of blood will crush the house” and that this “Justice brings new acts of agony.” (A 1562, 1564). They are warning that justice as vengeance will bring more trouble. Aegisthus becomes known to be the mastermind behind Agamemnon’s death and states he planned this all to get vengeance. Aegisthus makes Agamemnon pay “for the plot his father’s hand contrived” against Aegistheus’ father, Thyestes (A 1611). All Clytaemnestra wants now after she kills Agamemnon is “no more grief. We have too much reap right here, our mighty harvest of despair. Our lives are based on pain. No bloodshed now.”, but she is actually not at the harvest, but rather she has planted more seeds which only further ignites the flame of death (A 1688-1690).

This ongoing mindset of “an eye for an eye” is considered as justice and it means that the cycle will never end because “when the blood of slaughter wets the ground it wants more blood.” (LB 394-395). It fosters more decay and death but Clytaemnestra believes that killing Agamemnon has ended the cycle, when in reality it did not stop anything and will only further this vicious cycle. Agamemnon’s son Orestes comes back to avenge his father’s death and reunites with his sister Electra who is with the women of Argos. Clytaemnestra has been having nightmares as a result of the guilt