From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
Zeus tiptoes around in the background, trying to spy on Orestes and the Tutor.
The men comment on his appearance; the Tutor thinks his beard looks like that of Zeus and that it's odd that they've seen this guy so frequently on their travels.
Finally Zeus approaches and introduces himself as Demetrios, from Athens. He gives them a run-down of the history of Argos, noting Orestes's reaction at the mention of King Agamemnon.
They debate whether or not the gods should have intervened in the name of divine justice.
Zeus gives Orestes "hypothetical" advice to leave Argos, which Orestes seems prepared to take.
Zeus departs and returns some time later, ready to escort Orestes out of Argos.
But by now, Orestes has spent some time with Electra and decided to stay in Argos.
In that case, says Zeus, he'd like to act as a guide for the young man.
Zeus alludes to the story of Mentor (Athena) and Telemachus, which is a big flashing "I'm a god" sign.
Zeus accompanies Orestes to the Ceremony of the Dead and restrains him when he moves to intervene.
When Electra pulls her rebel act and asks for a sign, Zeus obliges and smashes the large boulder into the temple steps below her.
Later, he points out the outcome of the afternoon to Orestes as an example: the good were rewarded while the bad were punished, he says.
In the throne room, while Orestes and Electra are in hiding, Zeus converses with Aegisthus. He wants the King to throw the two in jail to prevent the crime.
He explains the difference between the two murders (Agamemnon's fifteen years ago, and the one that might be committed soon).
The gods like repentance and atonement, and a remorseless crime is no good to them.
Because Orestes will feel no remorse, Zeus would rather keep Aegisthus in power. This is also the reason for his condoning the murder fifteen years ago.
Zeus adds that he committed the first crime when he chose to make man mortal; he essentially murdered everyone by doing so.
This means that, when men kill each other, they aren't so much murdering as hastening an inevitable death.
Agamemnon, for instance, would have died a few months later anyway of natural causes.
This conversation moves to the topic of freedom. Zeus believes Orestes is dangerous because he knows he is free.
Once a man is conscious of his freedom, Zeus explains, the gods are powerless against him. That is why he needs Aegisthus to act.
They two kings also discuss the similarities they share as rulers.
Both act in order to instill and preserve order, both are slaves to their images, and both have a hard time differentiating between who they really are and the awesome, fearsome image their subjects hold of them.
Lastly, both men share a burden – the burden of knowing that man is free.
Zeus again commands Aegisthus to prevent the murder, and then exits.
Later that night, Zeus shows up at the temple of Apollo and calls the furies off Electra.
He admits that he is torn between compassion and anger, and he offers the siblings the chance to cut a deal. If they spend their lives repenting, and he'll instill them in the throne of Argos.
Zeus proceeds to fight with Orestes over Electra.
While Orestes encourages his sister to own up to her actions, Zeus encourages a flight into bad faith.
Zeus tries to convince Electra that she never really wanted the royal couple dead in the first place, and that it wasn't really her fault this all happened.
Then he and Orestes really start going at it.
Zeus gets into his "I'm a God and you're a puny mortal" routine by splitting apart the walls of the temple and putting on a solid lightning show.
But Orestes isn't impressed.
Zeus might be the king of the universe, but he is not the king of man. He made a mistake in making man free.
This leads into a debate as to the nature of freedom. Zeus thinks it's ridiculous for a man exiled and clinging to a safe haven to flaunt his freedom.
Orestes makes it clear that freedom is a state of mind. Even a slave on the cross is free.
Zeus admits that he's beaten and leaves Orestes alone.
However, the god does manage to get Electra on his side before he leaves.