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!

Watch the play!

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 1 – “Agamemnon”

Vengeance is a dish served bloody as fuck… and with pickles.

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 1 – “Agamemnon”

 

  • Watchman – I’ve been watching for a beacon for the last 12 months. Some sign of goings-on in the war. Victory or defeat or the arrival of Agamemnon. I see a signal of victory over Troy. Agamemnon will be happy to come home but things aren’t so rosy.
  • Chorus – The Achaens have been gone for 10 years. The war had been dragging on. Agamemnon’s wife, Clytaemnestra, is still upset about the sacrifice of their faughter for smooth sailing to Troy. The wind stopped them from leaving the city. The sacrifice of a virgin was the only way – his own daughter – Iphigenia. Calchas predicted it all.
  • Clytaemnestra (ENTERS) – I hope this good news will make all the sadness go away. Greece defeated Troy last night. Hephaestus sent flames from city beacon to city beacon to tell the news (LEAVES)
  • Chorus – It seems that Zeus is wrapping up this whole mess. Let’s recount the reasons for the war. Paris chose Venus as the prettiest goddess. Minerva got pissed off about this. Venus couldn’t have Paris so she gave him the most beautiful woman on earth, Helen. The Argives didn’t like this, so they got up and went to fight the Trojans.
  • Herald (ENTERS) – I’m so excited to be home. They managed to survive and win, although the gods tried their best to fight it.
  • Chorus – Welcome home. We’ve been so gloomy without you. We’d better not say why.
  • Herald – You gloomy? Our voyage there and back was bad. We’ve been fighting for 10 years. It rained all the time. It was hot, cold, wet, roasting. I’m covered in lice. It was so horrible. But it’s all over. We won. Why bother doing a balance sheet between the good and bad. We won and that’s what matters.
  • Chorus – Well, then. I guess we old men can learn new things from young pups such as yourself. Maybe the rest of Argos should know about this.
  • Clytamnestra (ENTERS) – I’ve heard the news but I can still hardly believe it. They said I was silly to get excited about a beacon. I’ve been making non-stop sacrifices. But I’ll hear the whole story from the man himself. We’ll pick up exactly where we left off (LEAVES).
  • Chorus – We now… Is Menelaus coming home too?
  • Herald – He’s missing at the moment. There was a storm. I don’t know anything more… I was supposed to be the bearer of good news and now I see that it’s not the best of times. The curse of the House of Atreus isn’t over yet. Zeus is up to something. (LEAVES)
  • Chorus – Zeus had planned this before Helen was even born. It was always going to be this way. Argos has suffered as a result. Troy suffered for Paris’s lust. All of this shit for lust, hubris, justice and lack of justice.
  • Agamemnon (ENTERS)
  • Chorus – Conqueror of Troy. Son of Atreus. How should we call you? We had doubts about the war but now that you’re here, you must be praised. We’ve been faithful to you but not everybody else has been.
  • Agamemnon – Thanks to the gods and Argos. They’ve helped me travel safely and conquer Troy. There’s nothing left of the place for their kidnapping of Helen. Many people aren’t born without envy and disloyalty. Only Odysseus, if he’s still alive… We must call a council and the healers. Now, I’ll enter the palace to thank the gods.
  • Clytaemnestra (ENTERS) – I wish to announce my love for the king. It was horrible to hear the rumors. I sent Orestes, our son to stay with Strophius because the rumors spoke of a coup. I’m so glad the torture of your absence is over. I’m free now.
  • (SERVANTS ROLLED OUT A TAPESTRY BETWEEN HIM AND THE HOUSE)
  • Agamemnon – Your words are kind but I can’t walk on that. It’s for the gods and them only. I’ve tempted fate enough. Please let’s tone it down.
  • Clytaemnestra – Please! You’re nearly a god. It’s only fitting. What would Priam have done?
  • Agamemnon – He would’ve walked on it. I don’t expect you to understand. But you really shouldn’t insist. It’s not right!
  • Clytaemnestra – Please! For me! For the people!
  • Agamemnon – Oh, all right (TAKES OFF BOOTS AND WALKS ON THE ROBES). Please, gods. Don’t think too badly of me for this. Servants, take care of Cassandra and my treasure
  • Clytaemnestra – The purple dye came from the sea. I’ve got enough of it to pay 1000x a king’s ransom. It’s only fitting for a warrior and king like you. I’ll fulfill the will of Zeus.
  • (BOTH ENTER PALACE)
  • Chorus – Oh, no! This can’t be good. It’s not sure what’ll happen but I can’t feel a song of doom playing
  • Clytaemnestra (ENTERS) – You, too, Cassandra. Zeus was generous allowing you to live and be a servant to such a king. Come inside…
  • Chorus – Go on. Your mistress is ordering you.
  • Clytaemnestra – You fool. Let’s go… Hmm… Maybe I can persuade her another way… (NICELY) Cassandra, let’s go inside… Nothing… (LOUDLY) Come on!! I haven’t got all day. I’ve got sacrifices to tend to. Make a noise at least!
  • Chorus – It’s no use. She doesn’t know our language…
  • Clytaemnestra – She must have gone insane watching her people and city burn. Whatever… (LEAVES)
  • Chorus – I pity her. She was a princess and now she’s a slave in a foreign land. But them’s the breaks.
  • Cassandra – Apollo! Apollo!
  • Chorus – Quiet. He’s not going to help you
  • Cassandra – Apollo! Apollo!
  • Chorus – Again? He’s not going to like that
  • Cassandra – Apollo, god of all but only death to me. Why have you brought me here to this place?
  • Chorus – This is the house of Atreus. Don’t you know?
  • Cassandra – This is the house of those who kill their own kin. Blood has been split here and will be again. I smell a child’s flesh. Now another crime is afoot for someone who should be dear
  • Chorus – I get the past part. But the future part?
  • Cassandra – A bathing husband will be murdered soon. She’ll kill her lord but helped by another
  • Chorus – Oh shit. This is bad. I feel doom coming.
  • Cassandra – The monarch of the herd will be killed by his mate. He’ll be impaled by her horns. And I’ll be getting a dose of it too. Why didn’t you bring me here, Agamemnon? To die by your side? Damn you, Paris. Your lust has doomed all Trojans and Troy was doomed to be destroyed. I’ll be dead soon. My father, my city, my family all burnt. I feel it too (WAKES UP).
  • Chorus – What’s that all about?
  • Cassandra –A long time ago there was a human sacrifice here in this house. The family is haunted by this. But nobody will ever listen to me. I’m called a prophetess of lies even though I speak the truth.
  • Chorus – The first part is true. How do you know all this?
  • Cassandra – Apollo gave me prophetic powers. He was in love with me and I promised to marry him but I broke that promise. Because I was false to him he made me false to everyone. I predicted the fall of Troy but nobody believed me.
  • Chorus – Well, we believe you…
  • Cassandra (IN A TRANCE) – A cowardly lion will have his lioness kill his prey for him in her master’s room. As Troy was doomed, this house is doomed. I will be too. Only then will I be believed.
  • Chorus – She must mean something about Thyestes. I’m not sure though.
  • Cassandra – No! Agamemnon!
  • Chorus – Easy there, girl. We’ll appeal to the gods. No man would dare kill him.
  • Cassandra – Not a man! Why aren’t you listening to me?!?!
  • Chorus – If you can foresee this why aren’t you running away?
  • Cassandra – It’d only be delaying the inevitable. You’ll be witnesses to our death. Just one favor, please. When the time comes for punishing these murderers, let it be done quickly and thoroughly (LEAVES).
  • (CRIES FROM THE PALACE)
  • Chorus – What was that? … That was the king being murdered… We ought to do something… Let’s break in and save him… This will lead to tyranny… Our way of living will die… All this talking won’t break him back from the dead… Will we sit around and let ourselves be ruled by murderers? … Was it really murder? … We need proof…
  • (SCENE OPENS WITH CLYTAEMNESTRA STANDING OVER THE BODIES OF AGAMEMNON AND CASSANDRA)
  • Clytaemnestra – I’ve been dreaming of this moment. I faked my love for him and struck him twice while he was in his robe. He cried twice. The third time, he died spraying blood everywhere. The sweetest shower. So, then, old men… This is fitting for a man who put so much blood and bitterness in our lives.
  • Chorus – How dare you revel in the murder of our king?
  • Clytaemnestra –Whatever you think, he’s dead and I killed him
  • Chorus – You’re possessed. You’ve cursed your people for this. You must leave, you evil woman
  • Clytaemnestra – You never condemned the sacrifice of our daughter just for smooth sailing. You did nothing to punish him. Now you judge me? Don’t even try.
  • Chorus – Strange that you’d be proud of a murder. Fate will doom you to be honorless, defenseless and friendless at death.
  • Clytaemnestra – This is all out of vengeance. I’m not afraid. But I’m not defenseless or friendless. Aegisthus will be there for me. Don’t lecture me about loyalty. Agamemnon was banging everything that moved in Troy… Chryseis, Cassandra… And now they’re dead.
  • Chorus – Poor Agamemnon. You had a huge burden on you. You had to avenge the kidnapping of Helen. Argos won and you survived. Troy was destroyed. Only to be murdered by your wife.
  • Clytaemnestra – I’m guiltless. I only wanted to avenge my daughter. Blame Helen. She was the cause of it all.
  • Chorus – Guiltless? It was a power play. You saw the chance to take advantage of the situation and you murdered your husband and your king. Oh, this web of treachery she’s woven around you, Agamemnon. What a terrible death!
  • Clytaemnestra – It’s no worse than the one he inflicted. He wasn’t an honorable man. I’m no longer his wife. I’m an avenger of my daughter, Iphigenia. This was just.
  • Chorus – How dare you. Who will bury him? Sing at his grave? Eulogize him? You? His murderess?
  • Clytaemnestra – This is none of your business. His burial rites are mine. No one here will mourn for him. He’ll only see Iphigenia in Hades.
  • Chorus – Sin follows sin. Sorrow follows sorrow. When will it end? Zeus won’t let this sit. The law for mortals is that killers get killed. Now this is in your family’s blood
  • Clytaemnestra – You’re wrong. This act has stopped the cycle of death and curse has been lifted on us and Argos
  • Aegisthus (ENTERS) – This is a great day for the end of our blood grudge. My father, Thyestes tried to overthrow his brother, Atreus and was exiled. Begging for forgiveness, he was fed his children as a punishment. Now he is dead and I’ve been living in exile ever since.
  • Chorus – So, this was your idea? The people will never accept you as their king. And to think that you got a woman to do your dirty work
  • Aegisthus – She had to do it because I was suspected of something like that. But now we’re in control of the city.
  • Chorus – Orestes won’t allow you to rule
  • Aegisthus – You want a piece of me? Let’s go! Get out your swords and we’ll see what’s what
  • Clytaemnestra – That’s enough death for today. We don’t need any more trouble with the gods and the people
  • Chorus – Orestes will do something about this. Be sure of that.
  • Clytaemnestra – Well, we’ll leave it at that…

 

Watch the Play!

Part 1:

Part 2: