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Quote #10

(Orestes): "Stretch it out and stand round it in a circle: show the thing which covered a man, so that a father may see – not my own father, but the one who watches over all this – so that I may have a witness in justice one day that I pursued this death justly – my own mother's!" (980-989)

Orestes's command shows that language is not the only mode of the communication. One can also communicate through visual signs as, in this case, he wants to use the bloody robe in which Agamemnon was killed to communicate to the gods that what he has done was just. Depending on what edition of the play you're using, your text might be a little different here. In some versions of the play, there's an extra line (numbered 986 is most Greek editions) that makes it clear that the "one who watches over all this" is actually Helios, the Sun-God. Christopher Collard, the translator we're following, thinks that this line wasn't part of Aeschylus's original play, but got stuck in by somebody else at a later date. He is confident that Aeschylus meant to have Orestes refer to Zeus here. We discuss this issue in more detail under the theme of "Justice and Judgment."

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