Chorus Metamorphosis (The Chorus of the Oresteia) Eric Burgess

In many Greek catastrophes, the writer utilizes the chorus as a tool to talk about action in the play. The chorus does not play an active role in the story, such that if they were gotten rid of from the work, the plot would not be impacted. Nevertheless, in Oresteia, Aeschylus does not keep to this traditional pattern. Aeschylus utilizes a various form of chorus to put focus on particular styles and develop the plot more effectively. Throughout the work, the choruses do comment on the action of primary characters, but as the trilogy advances, the chorus goes through a transformation from the traditional chorus of Agamemnon into a primary character in The Eumenides.

Though the chorus in Agamemnon is traditional, it serves a function not to be overlooked. To begin with, due to the fact that the chorus is composed of Argive seniors it can provide substantial background details. For example, the chorus notifies the audience of the sacrifice of Iphegenia, “Her supplications and her sobs of daddy were absolutely nothing, nor the child’s lamentation to kings passioned for battle … Putting then to the ground her saffron mantle she struck the sacrificers with the eyes’ arrows of pity” (ll. 227-241). This passage portrays Agamemnon as cold-hearted toward his child, leading the way for Clytaemestra’s arguments later. Likewise, while awaiting news of Agamemnon’s return, the chorus tips that there is difficulty in your home and gives the audience an uneasy feeling when they speak of “the mean considering of sadness that eats [their] heart” (ll. 102-103). What the chorus stops working to do, nevertheless, is simply as crucial. Though they acknowledge that “Ruin is near, and swift” (l. 1124) while listening to Cassandra’s predictions, the elders not do anything. Additionally, after Agamemnon has been murdered, the seniors are indecisive and prevent themselves (ll. 1348-1371). Although they do not contribute to Agamemnon’s death, they stand by without trying to save him.

On the whole, this chorus represents the sentiment of Greek society. When Agamemnon returns, the chorus says to him “However I: when you marshalled this armament … in awful style you were composed in my heart for steering aslant the mind’s course to bring home by blood sacrifice and dead men that wild spirit” (ll. 799-804). This reveals that individuals felt some contempt for Agamemnon’s actions. However, in the following lines, the chorus shows loyalty, an important societal value: “Now, like drawn up from the deep heart, not skimmed at the edge we hail you” (ll. 805-806). When it comes to Agamemnon’s murder, the chorus simply examines the situation in an effort to pass judgment since they can not act directly. Even this fails, because the social morals are conflicting with each other – though Clytaemestra killed her spouse, the chorus questions whether it was warranted: “Between them who shall evaluate gently? … [Agamemnon] eliminated, he has actually paid” (ll. 1560-1562).

In The Libation Bearers, the chorus, a group of foreign serving-women, affects the plot more than the chorus performs in Agamemnon. Primarily, the chorus offers assistance to Electra and Orestes. Being sent by her mother to put libations, Electra seeks advice from the chorus saying, “Attendant women, who order our house … be likewise my consultants in this rite” (ll. 84-86). Being older and wiser, the chorus “advises” Electra to pray for “one to kill [Clytaemestra and Aegisthus], for the life they took” (l. 121). Orestes, after being advised by the chorus, does something about it against his daddy’s killers. After the libations have actually been poured, the chorus says, “The rest is action. Since your heart is set that method, now you need to strike and show your destiny” (ll. 512-513). Furthermore, the chorus recommends a method of carrying out the deed, referring to the part that Orestes “should not play” (l. 553), implying that he should disguise his identity upon going into the house. After the murders of Aegisthus and Clytaemestra, the chorus encourages Orestes once again, informing him, “There is one way to make you tidy: let Loxias touch you, and set you devoid of these disruptions” (ll. 1059-1060). Here the chorus offers him the one possibility he needs to be absolved of his sin. In addition to providing assistance, the chorus also plays a crucial role in the murder of Aegisthus. Intercepting Cilissa, the chorus instructs her to “not inform [Aegisthus to bring his followers], however just bid him come as quickly as he can and cheerfully” (ll. 770-772). This leaves Aegisthus not able to protect himself when Orestes attacks him.

Once again, in this play, the chorus does more than simply development of plot – it also shows essential themes. The theme of justice continues for one. When hoping to Zeus the chorus says, “Let the old murder in your house type no more” (ll. 805-806). As serving-women in the house, faithful to Agamemnon, the chorus thinks that Orestes’ actions are justified by Agamemnon’s death, suggesting that his revenge is the rightful end to the line of deaths. Also, the chorus shows the style of ladies’s vulnerability and reliance. Unlike Clytaemestra, the chorus can not take charge. Rather, in addition to Electra, they should hope that the gods “Let one come, in strength of spear, some male at arms who will release your house” (ll. 159-160). Without Orestes, Electra and the chorus are helpless.

Unlike the powerless choruses of the other plays, the chorus of The Eumenides handles an extremely active function. Throughout the play, the Furies’ actions are motivated by the ancient laws. Justice, according to these laws, is accomplished just by revenge; a murdered guy should be avenged by his blood relatives. When it comes to killing one’s family, the Furies constitute the only source of justice. Since of this, the chorus hunts Orestes – to fulfill their responsibility. Though Clytaemestra was eliminated to avenge Agamemnon, the chorus thinks that absolutely nothing can justify the murder of one’s own blood relative (l. 427). When the Furies are beat in trial, they once again rely on vengeance, threatening “vindictive toxin … [that] will breed cancer, the leafless, the barren to strike” (ll. 782-786) to punish the Athenians. This reveals the level of their reliance on vengeance for settling conflicts.

On a more comprehensive perspective, the Furies’ struggle in The Eumenides reflect the modification in societal views of justice – from the older idea of revenge to the new approach of trial. Early in the play, the chorus says to Apollo “A young god, you have ridden down powers gray with age” (l. 150). This introduces the theme of brand-new versus old. When Athene tries Orestes for the murder of Clytaemestra, though it appears that the furies function as prosecutor, they are really defending themselves and the old ways of justice. They argue “if … his criminal activity be sustained … every male will discover a way to act at his own caprice” (ll. 491-495). Without the risk of the Furies, there is nothing to keep guys from killing their families. After the trial, the chorus states, “I, the mind of the past, to be driven under the ground out cast, like dirt!” (ll. 838-839). With the decision in favor of Orestes, it appears to the chorus that the new gods have no respect for the old methods. However, when Athene persuades the Furies to quit their rage by using a share in the worship of the Athenians (ll. 848-900), a tranquil marriage is formed between the old methods and the new.

In Agamemnon, Aeschylus funnels the morals of society through the remarks of the Argive senior citizens, focusing them on the home of Atreus and, more significantly, the disputes that are tearing it apart. The chorus in The Libation Bearers, more active than the seniors, has the ability to assist Orestes in solving Agamemnon’s death, but their lack of exercise helps to demonstrate an essential style. As soon as the metamorphosis is complete in The Eumenides, the furies function as a primary character, making them a force to be considered. This reveals that, similar to the conditions of Greek society at the time, the past can not be neglected – a reconciliation is required in between the ancient laws and the new system. By giving the chorus an active role, Aeschylus broadens the point of view of his work, using its styles to the outdoors world.

You Might Also Like