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Libation Bearers

Libation Bearers


by Aeschylus

Libation Bearers Fate and Free Will Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used Christopher Collard's translation.

Quote #7

(Orestes): "Pylades, what am I to do? Is such respect to stop me from killing my mother?"
(Pylades): "Then where's the future for Loxias' oracles, delivered by the Pythia, and the pledges sworn on oath? Think of all men as your enemies rather than the gods!" (899-900)

Same point from the previous quotation. When Orestes doesn't know what to do, Pylades says, "But what about the oracles? Are you going to prove them wrong?" But isn't the whole idea of oracles that they can't be proven wrong? Or can they? Ay caramba!

Quote #8

(Orestes): "What, will you share my house when you are my father's killer?"
(Clytemnestra): "Fate has some responsibility for that, my child."
(Orestes): "Well, Fate has dealt you this death too." (909-911)

It looks like, in this argument, fate is mainly brought in as a way for each party to avoid taking responsibility for his (Orestes's) or her (Clytemnestra's) actions. Do we accept their explanation, or is fate just a lame excuse? Does it make any difference that Clytemnestra's "fated" action is in the past, and so can't be changed, whereas Orestes's "fated" action is in the (imminent) future, and so perhaps could still be averted?

Quote #9

(Chorus): "There came justice at last to Priam's children,
heavy and just in punishment;
there came to Agamemnon's house
a double lion, double warfare;
there drove absolutely forward
the exile, as Pythia
enjoined, well sped by warnings of the gods." (935-941)

Here, the Chorus sums up the sequence of punishments up to this point: Agamemnon punished the Trojans for stealing his brother's wife; Clytemnestra and Aegisthus punished Agamemnon for killing Iphigenia and for the actions of his father, Atreus; and now Orestes has punished Clytemnestra and Aegisthus for killing Agamemnon. When the Chorus portrays Orestes as carrying out what "Pythia" (the priestess of Apollo) "enjoined" (told him to do) and "sped by warnings of the gods," does that mean that he wasn't acting freely? Or could he be acting freely in carrying out those instructions?

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