In most Greek tragedies, 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 eliminated from the work, the plot would not be affected. However, in Oresteia, Aeschylus does not keep to this traditional pattern. Aeschylus makes use of a various type of chorus to put focus on particular themes and develop the plot better. Throughout the work, the choruses do discuss the action of main characters, however as the trilogy advances, the chorus goes through a metamorphosis from the standard chorus of Agamemnon into a chief character in The Eumenides.
Though the chorus in Agamemnon is traditional, it serves a purpose not to be overlooked. To start with, since the chorus is composed of Argive senior citizens it can offer considerable background details. For instance, the chorus notifies the audience of the sacrifice of Iphegenia, “Her supplications and her weeps of dad were nothing, nor the kid’s lamentation to kings passioned for fight … Pouring then to the ground her saffron mantle she struck the sacrificers with the eyes’ arrows of pity” (ll. 227-241). This passage illustrates Agamemnon as cold-hearted toward his daughter, leading the way for Clytaemestra’s arguments later on. Likewise, while awaiting news of Agamemnon’s return, the chorus hints that there is difficulty in the house and gives the audience an uneasy sensation when they speak of “the ruthless considering of sorrow that consumes [their] heart” (ll. 102-103). What the chorus fails to do, nevertheless, is simply as crucial. Though they recognize that “Ruin is near, and swift” (l. 1124) while listening to Cassandra’s prophecies, the seniors not do anything. Additionally, after Agamemnon has been murdered, the elders are indecisive and prevent themselves (ll. 1348-1371). Although they do not contribute to Agamemnon’s death, they wait without attempting to conserve him.
On the whole, this chorus represents the belief of Greek society. When Agamemnon returns, the chorus states to him “But I: when you marshalled this armament … in unsightly style you were composed in my heart for guiding aslant the mind’s course to bring house 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 displays loyalty, an essential societal worth: “Now, enjoy 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 scenario in an attempt to pass judgment since they can not act straight. Even this stops working, due to the fact that the societal morals are contravening each other– though Clytaemestra murdered her hubby, the chorus questions whether it was justified: “Between them who shall judge lightly? … [Agamemnon] killed, he has actually paid” (ll. 1560-1562).
In The Libation Bearers, the chorus, a group of foreign serving-women, influences the plot more than the chorus performs in Agamemnon. Primarily, the chorus offers guidance to Electra and Orestes. Being sent by her mom to put libations, Electra speaks with the chorus saying, “Attendant females, who purchase our home … be likewise my consultants in this rite” (ll. 84-86). Being older and smarter, the chorus “encourages” Electra to wish “one to eliminate [Clytaemestra and Aegisthus], for the life they took” (l. 121). Orestes, after being prompted by the chorus, acts versus his dad’s killers. After the libations have actually been poured, the chorus says, “The rest is action. Given that your heart is set that method, now you must strike and prove your destiny” (ll. 512-513). Furthermore, the chorus suggests a way of performing the deed, describing the part that Orestes “must not play” (l. 553), suggesting that he needs to disguise his identity upon entering the house. After the murders of Aegisthus and Clytaemestra, the chorus recommends Orestes again, telling him, “There is one method to make you tidy: let Loxias touch you, and set you devoid of these disturbances” (ll. 1059-1060). Here the chorus provides him the one chance he has to be absolved of his sin. Along with offering assistance, the chorus likewise plays a crucial role in the murder of Aegisthus. Intercepting Cilissa, the chorus advises her to “not tell [Aegisthus to bring his followers], however just bid him come as rapidly as he can and cheerfully” (ll. 770-772). This leaves Aegisthus unable to protect himself when Orestes attacks him.
Once again, in this play, the chorus does more than just development of plot– it also demonstrates essential styles. The theme of justice continues for one. When praying to Zeus the chorus states, “Let the old murder in your home type no more” (ll. 805-806). As serving-women in the house, devoted to Agamemnon, the chorus thinks that Orestes’ actions are validated by Agamemnon’s death, indicating that his vengeance is the rightful end to the line of deaths. Also, the chorus shows the style of females’s vulnerability and dependence. Unlike Clytaemestra, the chorus can not take charge. Instead, together with Electra, they need to pray that the gods “Let one come, in strength of spear, some man at arms who will set free the house” (ll. 159-160). Without Orestes, Electra and the chorus are powerless.
Unlike the defenseless 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 only by vengeance; a killed man must be avenged by his blood family members. In the case of killing one’s family, the Furies make up the only source of justice. Because of this, the chorus hunts Orestes– to meet their responsibility. Though Clytaemestra was eliminated to avenge Agamemnon, the chorus thinks that nothing can validate the murder of one’s own blood relative (l. 427). When the Furies are beat in trial, they again rely on revenge, threatening “vindictive poison … [that] will breed cancer, the leafless, the barren to strike” (ll. 782-786) to penalize the Athenians. This shows the extent of their reliance on revenge for settling conflicts.
On a broader point of view, the Furies’ battle in The Eumenides reflect the change in societal views of justice– from the older idea of vengeance to the brand-new technique of trial. Early in the play, the chorus states to Apollo “A young god, you have actually ridden down powers gray with age” (l. 150). This introduces the theme of new versus old. When Athene attempts Orestes for the murder of Clytaemestra, though it appears that the furies function as district attorney, they are in fact safeguarding themselves and the old methods of justice. They argue “if … his criminal offense be sustained … every guy will discover a method to act at his own caprice” (ll. 491-495). Without the danger of the Furies, there is nothing to keep men from killing their families. After the trial, the chorus says, “I, the mind of the past, to be driven under the ground out cast, like dirt!” (ll. 838-839). With the verdict in favor of Orestes, it appears to the chorus that the new gods have no regard for the old methods. Nevertheless, when Athene persuades the Furies to quit their rage by providing a share in the worship of the Athenians (ll. 848-900), a serene marriage is formed between the old methods and the new.
In Agamemnon, Aeschylus funnels the morals of society through the comments of the Argive elders, focusing them on the home of Atreus and, more importantly, the conflicts that are tearing it apart. The chorus in The Libation Bearers, more active than the elders, is able to assist Orestes in resolving Agamemnon’s death, however their lack of exercise helps to show a crucial style. As soon as the metamorphosis is total in The Eumenides, the furies act as a primary character, making them a force to be reckoned with. This reveals that, similar to the conditions of Greek society at the time, the past can not be ignored– a reconciliation is required in between the ancient laws and the new system. By providing the chorus an active role, Aeschylus expands the perspective of his work, applying its themes to the outside world.