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Book Title: The Liberation-Bearers|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 644 KB
ISBN 13: 9781627930345
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The author of the book: Aeschylus
Edition: Start Publishing LLC
Date of issue: April 8th 2013
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The Course of The Curse
In The Choephori, the bloodshed begun in the first play is continued (see Agamemnon for details, and for a discussion on translations). The theme of revenge and blood-curse continues to haunt the House of Atreus. At first glance it might seem as if there is indeed no end to this recurring tragedy that has been playing itself out in these intrigue-filled halls, but despite all the mirroring Aeschylus effects between the first and second plays (both have legitimate avenging missions, both weave a web of deceit, both murders the unsuspecting, both murderers are accompanied by unidimensional accomplices, both murders leave everlasting stains, both think that the buck will stop with them) that is supposed to show the inevitability of this tragic course/curse with no scope for a resolution, there are significant differences:
1. Clytaemestra acted alone, under her own sense of right and wrong; Orestes acts under the express direction and protection of Apollo himself.
2. Clytaemestra makes a token gesture of atonement by promising to give up her wealth but instead establishes a tyranny; Orestes is racked by guilt and renounces his position and wealth to atone for his crime. (I wonder who ruled the kingdom in his absence...)
3. Clytaemestra defends her actions and takes no steps to alleviate them by rituals, etc. until a nasty dream shakes her up; Orestes accepts his guilt immediately and takes protection under Apollo and does all the ritual cleansing and prostrations required.
4. Clytaemestra is probably egged on by Aegisthus's greed and allows him to benefit by her actions. Orestes turns to Pylades just once who only repeats Apollo's words and has no personal stake in the business. (though could it be that he becomes the regent in Orestes absence?)
5. Clytaemestra never hesitates in her deed of revenge and as an add-on murders an innocent (?) Cassandra too; Orestes shows his reluctance till he very last moment and had to be driven to his deed. He murders only the expressly guilty. (One has to wonder if Apollo was in fact avenging Cassandra and not Agamemnon!)
6. Most importantly Clytaemestra thinks she can be the final arbiter while Orestes is willing to allow himself to be judged by greater powers, be it the Gods, or the Law.
All this allows for hope that the ending of this second installment, of Orestes' story, and the punishment for his crime need not be externally imposed but might in fact be sanctioned by this modern man himself.
How exactly this will play out Aeschylus leaves for his climactic play, but the Greeks of his time would have been in no doubt as to where it was all leading and would have been eagerly awaiting the mythical re-imagination/show-down it would entail. Society is progressing, and like in Hegel it was all going to culminate in the Perfection of the Present!
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Read information about the authorAeschylus (525 BC – 456 BC) [Ésquilo in Portuguese, Esquilo in Spanish] was an ancient Greek playwright. He is often recognized as the father or the founder of tragedy, and is the earliest of the three Greek tragedians whose plays survive extant, the others being Sophocles and Euripides. According to Aristotle, he expanded the number of characters in plays to allow for conflict among them; previously, characters interacted only with the chorus. Unfortunately, only seven of an estimated 70 plays by Aeschylus have survived into modern times; one of these plays, Prometheus Bound, is sometimes thought not to be the work of Aeschylus.
At least one of Aeschylus' works was influenced by the Persian invasion of Greece, which took place during his lifetime. His play The Persians remains a good primary source of information about this period in Greek history. The war was so important to Greeks and to Aeschylus himself that, upon his death around 456 BC, his epitaph included a reference to his participation in the Greek victory at Marathon but not to his success as a playwright.
There are no reliable sources for the life of Aeschylus. He was said to have been born in c. 525 in Eleusis, a small town about 27 kilometers northwest of Athens, which is nestled in the fertile valleys of western Attica, though the date is most likely based on counting back forty years from his first victory in the Great Dionysia. His family was both wealthy and well-established; his father Euphorion was a member of the Eupatridae, the ancient nobility of Attica. As a youth, he worked at a vineyard until, according to the 2nd-century AD geographer Pausanias, the god Dionysus visited him in his sleep and commanded him to turn his attention to the nascent art of tragedy. As soon as he woke from the dream, the young Aeschylus began writing a tragedy, and his first performance took place in 499 BC, when he was only 26 years old. After fifteen years, his skill was great enough to win a prize for his plays at Athens' annual city Dionysia playwriting competition. But in the interim, his dramatic career was interrupted by war. The armies of the Persian Empire, which had already conquered the Greek city-states of Ionia, entered mainland Greece in the hopes of conquering it as well.
In 490 BC, Aeschylus and his brother Cynegeirus fought to defend Athens against Darius's invading Persian army at the Battle of Marathon. The Athenians, though outnumbered, encircled and slaughtered the Persian army. This pivotal defeat ended the first Persian invasion of Greece proper and was celebrated across the city-states of Greece. Though Athens was victorious, Cynegeirus died in the battle. Aeschylus continued to write plays during the lull between the first and second Persian invasions of Greece, and won his first victory at the city Dionysia in 484 BC. In 480 he was called into military service again, this time against Xerxes' invading forces at the Battle of Salamis. This naval battle holds a prominent place in The Persians, his oldest surviving play, which was performed in 472 BC and won first prize at the Dionysia.
Aeschylus was one of many Greeks who had been initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries, a cult to Demeter based in his hometown of Eleusis. As the name implies, members of the cult were supposed to have gained some sort of mystical, secret knowledge. Firm details of the Mysteries' specific rites are sparse, as members were sworn under the penalty of death not to reveal anything about the Mysteries to non-initiates. Nevertheless, according to Aristotle it was alleged that Aeschylus had placed clues about the secret rites in his seventh tragedy, Prometheus Bound. According to some sources, an angry mob tried to kill Aeschylus on the spot, but he fled the scene. When he stood trial for his offense, Aeschylus pleaded ignorance and was only spared because of his brave service in the Persian Wars.
Aeschylus traveled to Sicily once or twice in the 470s BC, having
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