The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 3 – “The Eumenides”

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 3 – “The Eumenides”

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 3 – “The Eumenides”

  • [At Delphi in front of Apollo’s Temple]
  • Prophetess – This temple has had so many seers and gods to help us see. I’ll see all the people in turn [Goes in and then quickly rushes out]. OH SHIT!!! What did I just see? I can’t even stand. I walked in and saw a man covered in blood and bunch of Gorgons. Not quite Gorgons but close enough to scare me. Fuck that shit. Apollo can deal with this on his on [Leaves].
  • [Doors open. Orestes and Apollo come out]
  • Apollo – I won’t let you down. I’ll protect you. But these wicked things are a bastard. The men don’t like them. The gods don’t like them. They’ll follow you around forever. Find a way to get to Athens. We’ll find judges and put a case together. I’ll tell them it’s my doing this mess.
  • Orestes – Of course. Please guide and protect me.
  • Apollo – I’ll put Hermes on the case [Orestes leaves. Apollo goes into the temple. Clytaemnestra’s ghost comes out].
  • Ghost – Sleeping on the job? How can you avenge my death while sleeping? I’ve done my part with the sacrifices. WAKE UP!!! [Hears whimpering] Cry all you want but you’ve lost him. His friends are helping him. How can you sleep when a man’s murdered his mother?
  • A Fury – (Asleep) That’s the one, dog…
  • Ghost – Hunting like a dog in your dreams? No success in your dreams either? Get up and do what you’re meant to do, you lazy fools!! [Leaves]
  • Chorus of Furies – Someone’s tricked us. How humiliating! It must have been Apollo. Those gods always get in the way. Orestes must be punished for violating the laws of heaven. We’ll follow him until the end of time to make him pay. I can’t believe Apollo would use his temple and powers to help him and stop us.
  • Apollo [Enters with bow and arrow] Get out! You’ve got no right to be here. Get out or I’ll stick one of these up your asses. I’ll have your heads chopped off and eyes gouged out. The gods hate everything about you. FUCK OFF!
  • Chorus – Please listen. This is all your doing. You told him to do it.
  • Apollo – To avenge his father’s death.
  • Chorus – He came to the temple red-handed
  • Apollo – I cleansed him. But you aren’t allowed near my temple.
  • Chorus – It’s our duty to chase mother-murderers
  • Apollo – What about those who kill their husbands?
  • Chorus – Not as bad as killing your family
  • Apollo – Marriage is every bit as holy as family. If there’s a murder and it’s not taken care of, you can’t go after Orestes. Somehow, you’re dead set on getting him.
  • Chorus – We’ll never stop
  • Apollo – It’ll only get worse for you
  • Chorus – We smell his blood. We’re off [They leave].
  • Apollo – I’ll protect him. If I don’t, it’ll be bad news for me.
  • [A year or so later in Athens at Athena’s Temple]
  • Orestes – Athena, I’m here. Apollo told me to come. Please help! I’ve come a long way [Crouches behind a statue of Apollo]
  • Chorus – [Enters] I think we’ve got him. He’s somewhere around here. We can’t lose him. There he is! Mother-murderer. Come on. This is the only way… Come on
  • Orestes – The bloods been cleansed by Apollo. I haven’t harmed anyone. I’ve come to Athena to put this to an end.
  • Chorus – No matter what Athena and Apollo say, we’re taking you. You’ll be ripped apart and there’ll be nothing left of you. Fate had ordered us grab you and hold you to account. If we don’t do this all of heaven’s laws will have no meaning.
  • Athena – [Enters] Did someone call? I was over in Troy
  • Chorus – We’ll fill you in. We’re the children of Night. We live in hell
  • Athena – That explains the look.
  • Chorus – We’re looking for mother-killers
  • Athena – Is that what you’re looking for?
  • Chorus – He’s been hard to lay a hand on. He killed his mother but claims innocence
  • Athena – Maybe for a good reason?
  • Chorus – What good reason could there be?
  • Athena – I can think of at least one
  • Chorus – He won’t confess to it
  • Athena – Well, bullying him doesn’t prove his guilt
  • Chorus – Talk to him yourself
  • Athena – And you’ll accept my judgment?
  • Chorus – Of course
  • Athena – Tell me, young man. Let’s find out who you are and what’s going on in this story. What’s your defense and that?
  • Orestes – I’m no murderer. This is the blood of a swine. I’m Orestes of Argos, son of Agamemnon. After Troy, he came home only to be murdered by his wife, my mother. I wasn’t there at the time but I returned to avenge his death. I killed my mother by order from Apollo. He threatened me with all kinds of torture if I didn’t do it. Please judge me.
  • Athena – Well, it’s not as simple as that, especially with a story as wild as this one. It calls for some sort of trial. I’ll choose the best of my people to hear the whole thing [Leaves]
  • Chorus – I guess we’ll do it this way. We’ll have to be quite good at convincing those men that he’s guilty. But this looks like the end of how we mete out justice. Murderers won’t be chased down anymore – they’ll be tried
  • [At Areopagus]
  • Athena – Let everyone know how this is done. There’ll be silence and those I’ve chosen will judge
  • Apollo – [Enters]
  • Chorus – Oh no. Here to meddle again?
  • Apollo – I’m here to testify on behalf of Orestes that I cleanse him of the blood. Athena, let’s get started
  • Athena – Furies, you may start you questioning
  • Chorus – Orestes, did you kill your mother?
  • Orestes – Yes
  • Chorus – How did you do it?
  • Orestes – I cut her throat with my sword
  • Chorus – Who got you to do that?
  • Orestes – Apollo. He’s a witness for me. I don’t regret it at all
  • Chorus – No. Maybe the jury will change your mind
  • Orestes – My father is helping me from the grave
  • Chorus – You killed your mother and are counting on ghosts?
  • Orestes – She was guilty of 2 crimes – killing my father and killing her husband
  • Chorus – Her bloody death exonerated her. But as for you…
  • Orestes – Why didn’t you go after her when she was alive?
  • Chorus – We only go after blood family crimes
  • Orestes – She killed my father
  • Chorus – But she’s your mother. There is no bond closer
  • Orestes – Apollo, please let them know your side of this
  • Apollo – I’ve been told to speak for Zeus, whose will is the greatest
  • Chorus – So, Zeus was behind this? He wouldn’t take into account the murder of Orestes’s mother in avenging his father?
  • Apollo – Not just a man – the holder of Zeus’s scepter. Athena, you know what that means. Clytaemnestra did it in such a treacherous way. Welcoming him in lovingly. After his bath, she wrapped him in a robe and killed him.
  • Chorus – Zeus is upset about that? He put his own father in chains. That makes no sense
  • Apollo – You’re assholes. There’s a difference between putting a man in chains and murdering him. You can do chains but not murder
  • Chorus – That’s all to save your man’s hide. Will he still live in Atreus’s house? Use public altars?
  • Apollo – Mother is a technical term. She gave him birth as a host to a baby. Zeus created Athena from his own forehead without a mother. Orestes is a fine man. Let’s get this over with, Athena
  • Athena – Will we tally the votes? Are you done with the case?
  • Chorus – We don’t have anything else
  • Apollo – Go and vote your conscience
  • Athena – All right, Athenians. This is the way we’re going to handle matters like this from now on. At Areopagus – Rock of Ares. These things spiral out of control if not handled well. Any of your colonies should do the same
  • [While the jury vote, they talk]
  • Chorus – Jury, don’t cross us. We’re no poets
  • Apollo – Remember, I’m a god and can do very, very nasty things…
  • Chorus – Apollo, you can’t bully people around anymore or promise them immortality
  • Apollo – I was helping a worshipper when he needed it
  • Chorus – Well, your actions have changed the way we handle justice now
  • Apollo – Well, better than your vigilante shit,
  • Chorus – Your boy has brown down millennia of our way of life.
  • Athena – If things aren’t settled by this vote, I’ll be casting the tie-breaks. I’ll vote for Orestes. I’m not really into motherhood since I’ve never been married and don’t have a mother myself…
  • Orestes – Apollo, I’m getting nervous
  • Chorus – We are too
  • Apollo – All right, let’s count these up [Counts them]
  • Athena – The count is even and I’m casting the deciding vote. Looks like he’s not guilty
  • Orestes – Oh, Athena. You’ve saved me and my people. Now I can take my rightful place as lord of Argos. Thank you, Apollo. Thank you, father. I swear never to wage war on Athens. Any man who does so will suffer [Leaves]
  • Chorus – So, gods. Out with the old way and in with the new. Vengeance of venom over and done with?
  • Athena – Don’t be too down. You got half the votes. It was really just down to Apollo telling him to do it that tipped the scales. You’ll have a place in Athens.
  • Chorus – So, gods. Out with the old way and in with the new. Vengeance of venom over and done with? [Repeat of last line]
  • Athena – I have faith that Zeus will give us all the justice we deserve. This is a much less violent and chaotic way.
  • Chorus – We can’t be cheered up
  • Athena – I’ll be patient with you in this transition for you. But this is how we’re going to do things from now on.
  • Chorus – We won’t be cheered up
  • Athena – Look, I’m letting you stay but I won’t let you go around bullying my people. Take it or leave it. I’m being nice to you mostly because you’re my elders… Well?
  • Chorus – What will we be doing?
  • Athena – Rather than punishing people, Why not go around trying to encourage virtue and reason into people? It’s much more pleasant. You can harass bad people but nothing more
  • Chorus – Sounds nice. I guess we’ll do our best not to ruin Athens. We pray there will be no more honor killings
  • Athena – See? Things will be even better than before for everyone!

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