Essays On The Oresteia

He told me to trust my instincts and to feel free to step as far from the source material as I needed in order to make a new version of these ancient plays for our times.

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She spoke about what was borne out time and again when the glorious simplicity of the concept was honored.

It’s not about absolution, it’s not about forgiveness, though that can sometimes happen.

I began writing my version of in the summer of 2016 in what seems another world, and got a draft of the first two acts together fairly quickly, passing them in by late October.

I was puzzling over how I might approach the third act, the one everyone agrees is the hardest because it can become a kind of tedious civics lesson, when the unthinkable happened with the election of the latest American president.

In it, he presents us with the trial of Orestes, the matricide, which Aeschylus depicts as the first trial in history.

He gives us a happy ending, in which the bloody cycle is brought to an end with the establishment of order and the triumph of the sky gods over the older, brutal forces of blood vengeance, the Furies.They survive in us, and they can serve us as we serve them in our own bad times, knowing that something of us too will last, even if the worst happens, even so.Justice in Aeschylus' The Oresteia How can an endless and violently destructive cycle be just?The concept appears in places along the human timeline as diverse as the Bible and West Side Story.Why do people have a tendency to amplify and repeat violence through a cycle of murder and revenge, and how can this destructive process be called justice?The first chapter of the trilogy is the story of Agamemnon, the war hero of Troy But for now, the important thing is that Clytomnestra has taken her revenge on Agamemnon.This is an example of that we could call vigilante justice, or the taking of matters into ones own hands.Athens in her ancient glory may have fallen, as her playwrights and poets always warned she might, but the scent of her lingers all these centuries hence with the handful of plays we are still marveling at.The world has kept some of that beauty and the memory of her best dreams.It’s born of the belief that only by bringing us all into the same place and hearing the truth if we can speak it, can we heal.I thought, if I can find a way to bring that essential grace to the third act of my play, I might be able to write my way to something like hope in these dark times. We don’t offer judgement at the end so much as the mystery of mercy, born of the act of listening and recognition.


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