The Mortals and the Gods

This breach of the Greek laws brings in another relationship between the mortals and the gods. Erinyes, whose name means the Furies, begin to torture and to haunt Orestes because of the insidious act he has just committed. This pursuit continues on leading us to the third play of the Oresteia: The Eumenides.

As the last play in the Oresteia, the Eumenides is a play that tells the end of the curse that was pronounced upon the house of Atreus which has lead to a cycle of reprisal and murder. Also known as The Furies, its plot tells of the continued battle between the gods (Erinyes) and the mortal (Orestes) as he runs to seek refuge in Delphi city, the new temple of Apollo. These gods are mandated to avenge patricide and matricide. He than continues his escape to Athens as the god Hermes drowses the Erinyes to dilly dally them after the god Apollo could not come to his rescue in appeasing the stubborn Erinyes.

Even though Hermes succeeds to delay the Erinyes, they manage to track Orestes in Athens city by smelling the blood of Clytemnestra in the air; they find him supplicating while holding the statue of Athena. While they surround Orestes, Athena marshals eleven Athenians who form a jury to pass judgment on Orestes. His attorney is Apollo but the Erinyes represent the deceased Clytemnestra. The verdict turns out to be an acquittal for Orestes after an agreement between the Athena and the Erinyes. Athena says, “Behold, this man is free from guilt of blood, for half the votes condemn him, half set free!”(Morshead p.120) This reconciles the differences that each party had.


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