In this Superbowl hangover day, I will either be depressed or extremely ecstatic, so it is a good thing that I'm not watching the big game (Go Steelers) and it is also a good thing that I write these blogs on Sunday before publishing them on Monday. Now that I have given you some insight on my work schedule, let us finally put to rest the tragic story of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and Orestes. (oh and Electra also)
Orestes is tormented by the Erinyes, or Furies, chthonic deities that avenge patricide and matricide. He, at the instigation of his sister Electra and the god Apollo (via the oracle at Delphi), has killed his mother Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus (with the help of cousin/friend/gay lover Pylades), who had killed his father, King Agamemnon, who had killed his daughter and Orestes's sister, Iphigenia. Orestes finds a refuge and a solace at the new temple of Apollo in Delphi, and the god, unable to deliver him from the Erinyes' unappeasable wrath, sends him along to Athens under the protection of Hermes, while he casts a drowsy spell upon the pursuing Erinyes in order to delay them.(Delay being the key word here, I guess Hermes did not want to pull the same stunt he did with Argus)
Oh pretty, I mean ah a ghost!
Clytemnestra's ghost appears to the sleeping Erinyes, urging them to continue hunting Orestes. They hum in unison as they slowly wake up, and seek to find the scent of blood that will lead them to Orestes' tracks. So you can see that the kindly old ones are not going to be good to our old friend Orestes.
The Erinyes' tracking down of Orestes in Athens is equally haunting: Orestes has clasped Athena's small statue in supplication, and the Erinyes close in on him by smelling the blood of his slain mother in the air. Once they do see him, they can also see rivulets of blood soaking the earth beneath his footsteps.As they surround him, Athena intervenes and brings in eleven Athenians to join her in forming a jury to judge her supplicant. Apollo acts as attorney for Orestes, while the Erinyes act as advocates for the dead Clytemnestra. During the trial, Apollo convinces Athena that, in a marriage, the man is more important than the woman, by pointing out that Athena was born only of Zeus and without a mother. Athena votes last and casts her vote for acquittal; after being counted, the votes on each side are equal, thus acquitting Orestes as Athena had earlier announced that this would be the result of a tie. She then persuades the Erinyes to accept the verdict, and they eventually submit. Athena then renames them Eumenides (The Kindly Ones), and they will now be honored by the citizens of Athens and ensure the city's prosperity. Athena also declares that henceforth hung juries should result in the defendant being acquitted, as mercy should always take precedence over harshness.See now that seemed to end quite well and happy for a story that was about the complete death of a family. And hey it ended the curse of Atreus.