What Would Have Been Orestes Proper Course of Action, had He Been Alive Today?

Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, is the main character of the ancient Greek play, Libation Bearers, which was written by a man named Aeschylus. This play was the sequel to the play Agamemnon. This play recounts the events after the tragic end of Agamemnon in the previous play. To recap Agamemnon had sacrificed his own daughter to be able to sail to Troy, this in turn led his wife to murder him after he returned home from Troy. Orestes at the time was exiled, but does return home to visit his father’s grave; there he reunites with his sister Electra. This leads to a course of events which leaves the question: what would have been Orestes proper course of action, had he been alive today in the modern world?

After this reunion Orestes and Electra both relate greatly over their resentment towards their mother, and her lover. They both decide to avenge their father’s death, by murdering their mother, and her lover who also happened to be their grandfather on their father’s side. Also to note Orestes did not really have a choice when it came to this plot since the Oracle of Delphi told him that if he did not do this he himself would face judgment for his father’s death. To do so Orestes disguises as someone else and Electra behaves as though nothing has happened. This ends up being a success and Orestes kills his mother and grandfather. 

Nowadays this situation would be completely different. For example in ancient Greece there was no law enforcement like it is today. If Orestes was around today he would have probably gone to the authorities to report his mother and his grandfather, for his father’s murder, if he found the proper evidence. Instead of going ahead and murdering them Orestes most likely will look for evidence against his mother and grandfather. But if he did choose to kill his mother and grandfather which would be a pretty unlikely situation today, that would be much harder than it would have been in ancient Greece, since there would be the law enforcement to worry about and covering up the murder, so not to be caught. Overall I believe a modern Orestes would most likely report his mother instead of murdering her, since that is the more logical and appropriate action to take.

Ancient Greek plays are a unique area of literature with rather insane, absurd story lines, and mythological tales; the play Libation Bearers, is no exception. The main character of Libation Bearers, Orestes, if he was a man of today would have behaved much differently in handling the situation of his father’s murder. Thus, this would have most likely been Orestes proper course of action had he been alive today.


  1. gershomid says:

    Normal family quarrels in Ancient Greece

    Liked by 1 person

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