Study Guide

Electra Family

By Sophocles


whence my hand,
Thy murdered sire then lying in his gore,
Received thee from thy sister, and removed
Where I have kept thee safe and nourished thee
To this bright manhood (11-14)

This is a great example of Sophocles's technique; he uses dialogue to get his audience up to speed on the back story.

while we,
As Phoebus ordered, with luxuriant locks
Shorn from our brows, and fair libations, crown
My father's sepulcher (50-53)

In Ancient Greece, placing locks of hair on a grave was a way of paying respects to the dead.

Hark! from the doors, my son, methought there came
A moaning cry, as of some maid within.
OR. Can it be poor Electra? Shall we stay,
And list again the lamentable sound?
OLD M. Not so. Before all else begin the attempt
To execute Apollo's sovereign will. (78-82)

Orestes puts duty to the gods before family. Does this mean that he carries out the double murder as a means of fulfilling a prophecy to the gods, and not as a means of honoring his father?

Take heart, dear child! still mighty in the sky
Is Zeus who ruleth all things and surveys.
Commit to him thy grief that surgeth high,
And walk in safer ways (164-5)

What exactly is the role of the gods in Electra?

Yet suffer me, dear women! Mighty force
Compels me. Who that had a noble heart
And saw her father's cause, as I have done,
By day and night more outraged, could refrain? (254-7

Is having a "noble heart" relevant here?

'Tis said she saw our father's spirit come
Once more to visit the abodes of light;
Then take and firmly plant upon the hearth
The sceptre which he bore of old, and now
Aegisthus bears: and out of this upsprang
A burgeoned shoot, that shadowed all the ground
Of loved Mycenae. (417-424)

Orestes is, in some ways, his "father's spirit" come to life.

Harsh ways are taught by harshness. (621)

Is Electra free of responsibility because of her bad family blood?

Kinship requires some mourning, even of me (1469)

Does Aegisthus really feel compelled to mourn Orestes here? Or is he just "playing the part"?

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