Study Guide

The Eumenides Revenge

By Aeschylus

Revenge

Quentin Tarantino fans, eat your heart out. Revenge is the flavor of the month in The Eumenides… at least until the last scene when judgment triumphs.

The eye-for-an-eye idea that the Furies advocate for does have a certain logic to it. But, as the saying goes, it leaves the whole world eventually blind. The problem with revenge is that it never ends. Instead, revenge breeds revenge faster than bunnies breed baby bunnies. Towards the end of The Eumenides, this is mentioned as especially dangerous for civic order.

Questions About Revenge

  1. Does Aeschylus show that there is anything good about revenge?
  2. What does the play portray as being worst about revenge?
  3. Are revenge and justice completely incompatible? If so, how and why?
  4. As depicted in Aeschylus's play, are all acts of revenge created equal, or are some more justified than others? What are the criteria for judging whether an act of revenge is justified or not? Do you accept those criteria?

Chew on This

Aeschylus's play portrays the presence of a judge as the only fundamental difference between justice and revenge.

The worst thing about revenge, as it is portrayed in Aeschylus's play, is that it leads to more revenge.

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