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Libation Bearers

Libation Bearers


by Aeschylus

Libation Bearers Religion Quotes

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

Quote #7

(Nurse): "What, are you in your right mind, with the news just brought?"
(Chorus): "But what if Zeus will one day bring a wind-change in our troubles?"
(Nurse): "And how? The hope of the house has perished with Orestes."
(Chorus): "Not yet; it would be a poor prophet who gave that opinion."
(Nurse): "What do you mean? Do you know something different from what's been told?"
(Chorus): "Go and give your message, do what you were sent to do; the gods take care of whatever it is they care for."
(Nurse): "Then I will go and obey what you tell me. May it turn out for the best, with the gods' giving." (774-780)

Have you ever heard the expression "The good Lord helps those who help themselves"? We at Shmoop think that this saying also fits pretty well with what the Chorus says here. It is also interesting to note how they use the idea of the gods to absolve the Nurse of responsibility for her role in the plot.

Quote #8

(Chorus): "Listen, [Zeus]! The one inside the palace –
oh, set him over his enemies! If you raise him high,
then he will be willing to make
a double or triple repayment." (790-793)

Once again, we get the idea of a contractual relationship between gods and mortals. The Chorus prays to Zeus to make Orestes successful; then, if Orestes is successful, he'll be even more able to offer awesome sacrifices to Zeus. Not a bad deal, huh?

Quote #9

(Chorus): "A part in things would justly go
to Maia's son, since his willing support
wafts any action best on its course.
Much appears different if he desires,
working his deception unseen;
in the night he brings dark on the eyes,
but cannot be seen more clearly by day." (812-818)

Once again, specific gods are invoked to bring specific benefits. Here, the Chorus, who has used trickery to bring down Aegisthus and Clytemnestra, gives a tip of the hat to Hermes, the god of trickery. Is there anything else that could be said about these lines? What about the Chorus's observation that Hermes can be seen by night, but not by day? Does this apply just to Hermes, or to the gods in general? If it applies to the gods in general, how could this statement be connected to the idea that the gods help those who help themselves?

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