Study Guide

Orestes, Electra, and Clytemnestra Violence

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No doubt there's plenty of violence in this bloody myth. At the urging of Electra and Apollo, Orestes slaughters Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. After that, the furious Furies chase Orestes all around, whipping him, throwing snakes at him, and violently shrieking at him at the tops of their lungs. If the Furies had their way, they'd drag Orestes down to the Underworld and torture him for all of eternity. So yeah, we'd say there's more than a little violence in this myth.

It's important to note that the violence Orestes does to his mother and her lover is a family tradition. It's part of a cycle of gruesome killings that began with Orestes' granddad Atreus, who chopped up the children of his brother Thyestes and served them to him. Ever since then, the House of Atreus has been cursed to do awful things and generally mutilate each other. (Fun stuff!)

Questions About Violence

  1. Is violence ever a good thing? Why, or why not?
  2. What do you think is the worst act of violence in this myth? Explain your answer. 
  3. Do you think the Furies are right to want to violently punish Orestes?
  4. How much responsibility does Electra have for the violent acts her brother commits?
  5. Would Orestes do the same thing over again if he had the chance? Why do you think so?

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