Toll Free:

Live chat
Order now Log In
Toll Free:

The Rise of the New World in Aeschylus’ The Oresteia

The Rise of the New World in Aeschylus’ The Oresteia

But who can tell aright the fiercer thing,

The aweless soul, within man’s breast inhabiting?

Who tell how, passion-fraught and love – distraught,

 The woman’s eager, craving thought

Doth wed mankind to woe and ruin fell? (Aeschylus 78)

This lyrical excerpt from the song of the Choephori (The Libation Bearers) in a highly pensive note marks the finale of the scene that takes place at Agamemnon’s grave, near the palace of Argos. That is when the two siblings, Orestes and Electra, reunited after a long time, are planning the murder of their mother Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus. It has to be mentioned that matricide or patricide was considered to be the most atrocious crime in the ancient Greece. However, such a dire act was slightly justified by Clytemnestra having murdered the siblings’ father, and by Apollo who himself requested the punishment. What really stands out here, in the Chopehori’s lament, is the great division between men and women in terms of the source of their madness: the hybris, the excess, the lavishness, all being bringers of doom that “wed mankind to woe and ruin” (Aeschylus 78). The madness of the woman is indirectly but strongly tied to her instincts and sexuality, as the “passion-fraught and love-distraught” (78) and the “craving thought” (78)  are in Aeschylus’ point of view manners of excesses now colossally rendered by the womanhood’s greatest asset, the ability to give birth. On the other hand, the hybris of the men is related to boldness, audacity, and overconfidence in a warrior’s strength. Such distinction between the hybris of the men and that of the women demonstrates a very strong connection between the female and the chthonic forces, and it ties the social function of the master or ruler to masculinity, on the other hand.

The chthonic forces of the Greek pantheon are rather ambiguous elements. Aeschylus definitely refers to them in The Oresteia as to the forces of the underworld that are closely tied to fertility as well as to envy, lust, and sensuality. They are depicted as the monsters or creatures of darkness and dread.

In order to justify the killing of her husband Agamemnon, Clytemnestra’s complex plea put forward the sacrificial rite of her daughter Iphigenia, born in blood and pain, for the purpose of winning the war, denying her maternal right associated with the warrior master. Besides, the image of Iphigenia’ death on the altar by the insistence on blood and pain depicts a reversed echo of her birth. Even so, this entitlement is soon shadowed to a mere pretext once Clytemnestra accuses the long absence of Agamemnon from the conjugal bed. Finally, the “passion-fraught and love-distraught, the woman’s eager, craving thought” (Aeschylus 78) in the end satisfied by Aegisthus, is revealed as the real reason that stands behind Clytemnestra murdering Agamemnon.

The elders of the city, representing the chorus of the trilogy’s first part, are regarding the murderous wife in the terms as depicted above. Thus, they are indignantly contesting any rights her paramour Aegisthus has taken as the new leader of the city. Consequently, Orestes and Electra are not considering Clytemnestra to be the mother who gave them birth, but as the one who has stripped them of all rights, sending them to a social death in favor of her lover. As a lover, Clytemnestra appears to be a creature of reversed birthing, the devourer, and Orestes’ nurse is convinced that the display of her pain at the news of Orestes’ death is fake. It is said to be a mask underneath which the joy that the potential candidate to the throne of Argos  and therefore her lover’s adversary hides, is now gone.

These are the results derived from the sequence that ends with the Choephori excerpts at Agamemnon’s grave. Even there, in a place and at a time where reminiscence and the current state of affairs could have brought it up, nobody, not even the Choephori mentioned the sacrifice of Iphigenia. There was no love that was lost between them and Agamemnon, as it was he who had reduced their social ranking to mere servants, as their status of spoils of war entitled him. It is this particular detail that is a clue to the fact that Aeschylus’ tragedy reflects a point of view of that time, a mindset rooted for long now, since all choruses from the first parts of “The Oresteia” share it. 

If we take in consideration the deities that are joining the family conflict, the Erinyes (also known as Furies in Roman mythology) on Clytemnestra’s side and Apollo on Agamemnon’s side, and also the fact that the female monsters are the daughters of the Night, who take the interference of the new gods as a trespassing, there is a reason to think that Aeschylus has chosen The Oresteia to celebrate a significant change in the society. The old gods are the chthonic gods, the masters of birth. In the last part of “The Oresteia” the chorus of the Erinyes threatens the citizens of Athens with the drought of the land that would occur iff the Areopagus (judicial body assembled by the elders) ruled for Orestes, therefore justifying the murder of his mother and also depriving them of the right to punish him. The new gods, on the other hand, The Olympians, are those of the city. Athena herself, who presides over the trial of Orestes, is a goddess without a mother, who was born from the head of Zeus and represents the full-fledged woman that was set free from the connection to the chthonic mystery of blood and pain.

The act of revenge in the human world, like the apple that started the Trojan War, becomes a struggle of the gods, with dominion being the prize. The triumph of the new gods over the old ones now reduced to positions of underlings has also a deeper meaning: it consecrates a downgrade of the woman rights in society. The trial of Orestes also challenges the role of the woman as birthing mother on the grounds of the warrior goddess’ birth, in favor of the role of nursing mother. Just like the old chthonic gods lost their positions, everything that’s tied to them in the new society has to disappear or to be significantly altered to fit the new mindset. Set free from the fears of the daughters of the Night, the Areopagus denies women any right to lead, rule, and in general to participate in the life and well being of the state, in any way. With the exception of Athena herself, the judicial body is comprised only of men. There is no mentioning of any other form of social life anywhere in “The Oresteia”, because Clytemnestra, the murderous wife, does not assume the leading role of her husband after having killed him, offering it to Aegisthus, her lover. The old ways of the world can only be deduced from the existence of the conflict of the gods, which was diplomatically solved in favor of the new gods by means of granting the old ones temples and offerings from the citizens of Athens. Thus, the old deities that are tamed and are now known by the name of Eumenides can participate in the well being of the new harmonious way of life.

From this perspective, “The Oresteia” does not only celebrate the triumph of the powers of light, of rightful justice over the dark right of an eye for an eye, but it also celebrates the triumph of a new world, a world of men. The city/state that stands for this new world is a symbol of the goddess that is a maiden and has no husband. Her other half is her twin brother Apollo, the god of light. The human womanhood, as the subordinate part of mother and wife, will still maintain a guileful role of duplicity, closely tied to the darkness that is ruled by monsters, is seen as the dominant characteristic when she manifests as the lover. 



We offer original custom essays in a wide range of subjects. No matter the topic, you will get an impressive essay.


Discussion Board Post

If you want to get the best discussion board post at an affordable price, just apply to our experts for help.


Research paper

If you experience any difficulties in writing research papers, welcome to us. We produce unique academic papers only!



Ask our experienced and highly educated writers to help you write your coursework, and you will get an impeccable and original paper.


Case Study

Use case study writing services offered by our reputable company. We guarantee to deliver only premium papers.



You can buy a unique questions-answers essay from our custom writing agency online. Hire us to help you succeed!


Powerpoint Presentation

Every time you are looking for a place to purchase a high-quality and creative PowerPoint presentation, visit our website.


Term paper

If you need help in writing a quality term paper, contact us. Our skilled writers specialize in creating authentic papers.


Response paper

Hire our experienced writers to produce a perfectly written response paper for you. We are dedicated to your success.



Use the first-class custom formatting service provided by our diligent experts. We can help you format papers in all styles.


Research proposal

If you do not know how to write a research proposal, make use of our superb research proposal writing services whenever you need.



Order a dissertation written by a professional PhD writer. You will be completely satisfied with your piece of writing.


Article Review

When writing an original article review turns out a difficult task for you, entrust it to our professionals to do it in no time.


Literary analysis

If you need expert assistance in writing a literary analysis essay, choose our reliable service to do the job. Order your essay now!



We can help you paraphrase any of your academic papers. Thus, if you need rewriting help, use our services and get high grades.


Reaction paper

Forget about reaction paper writing difficulties! Ask our qualified writers to help you express unique thoughts and reactions on the subject.


Excel Exercises

Leave the details of your Excel assignment to our competent writers, and they will do it professionally and fast, no matter its difficulty.


Annotated Bibliography

Acquire our remarkable annotated bibliography writing services! We charge the most affordable prices and never compromise on quality.


Business Report

In case you need professional assistance with business report writing, turn to our company. We will provide you with a flawless paper.



Purchase a well-structured and unique outline from us online, and get a brilliant paper. We write custom outlines to all papers.

Limited Time Offer
Your 1st Order
Online - please click here to chat