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Libation Bearers

Libation Bearers


by Aeschylus

Libation Bearers Memory and the Past Quotes

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

Quote #4

(Electra): "You tell of my father's dying; but they kept me away
in dishonour, worth no regard,
fenced off inside like a dangerous dog,
tears rising readier than laughter,
so many poured out in my hidden lament.
Such things, now you hear [them, you must write] in your mind." (444-450)

Electra continues taking the same tack as the Chorus in the previous quotation. She emphasizes to Orestes the way she herself was mistreated by Clytemnestra. Once again, the point is to make Orestes fixated on revenge. The metaphor Electra uses when she tells Orestes to "write" these things in his mind is a forceful reminder of the role that the writing of history can play in inspiring action – for good or ill.

Quote #5

(Chorus): "Yes, write them! Help the story
pierce through his ears, to his mind's quiet depth.
All that is as it is; the rest
he is eager to learn for himself.
The fight needs unbending resolve!" (451-455)

Now it's the Chorus's turn. They continue to emphasize the importance of Orestes writing down the things he's being told in his mind. By writing them down, the horrors of the past will remain forever present to him, goading him on until he carries out his revenge.

Quote #6

(Nurse): "My other troubles wrung me dry though I was steadfast; but my dear Orestes, who wore away my being, whom I nurtured once I received him from his mother, and [a line missing] his shrill commands which had me wandering in the night, frequent and wearisome, without benefit to myself – I put up with them. A thing which cannot reason must be nurtured just like an animal, of course with due attention; a child still in its swaddling cannot say at all whether hunger or thirst or its bladder affects it; and children's young stomachs are a law to themselves. Although I tried to divine these things in advance, as laundress of the child's swaddling, I was I think frequently mistaken; so launderer and nurse had to do one duty. Those were my hands' two occupations in bringing up Orestes for his father; now he is dead, and I have the misery of learning it!" (752-763)

The Nurse's descriptions of Orestes as a baby make him sound like a little hell-raiser, don't they? But she's still heartbroken to hear that he has died. In fact, it's almost as if her memory of hardship has now changed to nostalgia.

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