The Bucket List Book Adventure - Book 5: The Eumenides - Aeschylus

 


Dear Henry,


Book Five, Aeschylus's The Eumenides, of the Bucket List Book Adventure (read about that here) is done! So let me tell you all about it.

This book can be summed up as the trial of the century.


The story begins with Orestes and the Furies sleeping at the temple of the Oracle of Delphi. Orestes had fled to the Oracle of Delphi after the events in The Libation Bearers, with the Furies hot on his trail, determined to punish him for kin-slaying. Apollo suggests that Orestes go to Athens and appeal to Athena. Orestes sneaks away. Clytemnestra's ghost is having none of this and convinces the Furies to continue their pursuit of Orestes.   The Furies catch up to Orestes in Athens and bind him, but Athena comes along just in time and agrees to a trial over the matter. Apollo acts as the defense attorney, the citizens of Athens are the jury, and Athena presides as judge. The cases are presented, and the people of Athens have split down the middle. Athena casts the deciding vote in Orestes' favor. She also convinces the Furies to remain in Athens and to punish wrong-doers, renaming them The Eumenides. 

I'll admit I was disappointed in Athena. You would think, as a goddess, she would be more sympathetic to the plight of Clytemnestra.  

Apollo's argument on Orestes' behalf was that women are not related to their sons. They are simply a womb to hold a man's child. I may have mentioned this before in my essays on the Iliad, the Odessey, Agamemnon, and The Libation Bearers, but it bears mentioning again. Women in Ancient Greece had very few rights of their own. Despite Cytemnestra's folly in hooking up with Aegisthus, I think she deserves some sympathy and her plea to the Furies, "I suffered too, horribly, and from those most dear, yet none amount the powers is angered for my sake." broke my heart. One would think that Athena would have been on the side of the women.  


Interestingly, this trial between Orestes and the Furies created the Aeropagus, the Athenian council of aristocracy that became the advisors and council of the city of Athens. The prosecution also began the tradition that a tied vote or hung jury became the grounds for an acquittal. 

This was the last book of the trilogy and, for a while at least, the last book on the Trojan war and the war's aftermath. Next up, Prometheus Bound.

Until then!

xoxo a.d. elliott


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Roanoke, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at www.takethebackroads.com, you can also read her book reviews at www.riteoffancy.com and US military biographies at www.everydaypatriot.com

Her online gallery can be found at shop.takethebackroads.com

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