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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 #10

(Orestes): "I am like a charioteer with his horses well off the track; I am carried away, overcome by senses hard to control. Fear is ready with its song close to my heart, and my heart ready with its dance to Rancour – but while I still have my reason, I proclaim and tell my friends that it was not without justice that I killed my mother, the pollution who killed my father and an abomination to the gods; and the inducement to this resolute act I attribute mostly to Loxias the Pythian prophet, whose oracle told me I was to be without the evil of blame if I did these things, but if I failed – I will not say the punishment, for no one will come within a bowshot of describing its torments." (1022-1033)

Here we have a very complex interweaving of ideas relating to free will and fate. To begin with, Orestes says that he is going crazy – a different limitation on free will than either slavery (which we looked at in the beginning of this section) and fate, which we have been looking at throughout. Then, Orestes says that he "mostly" credits the oracle of Apollo for getting him to kill his mother. This suggests that he didn't have total control over his actions – or, at least, he was threatened by horrible punishments if he didn't carry out the revenge. How are we supposed to put all these ideas together? How do they relate to the fact that Orestes is going crazy? Will we go crazy, too, if we try to sort this all out?

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