The Libation Bearers

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Second part of the Tragedy trilogy The Oresteia by Aeschylus.

Some time after Agamemnon’s murder, his son Orestes and a friend, Pylades, arrive to his grave after a long exile. Soon, they both hide as Orestes’ sister, Electra, arrives at the tomb with some slaves carrying libations. She sees two locks of hair in the tomb, having been left there by Orestes earlier, prompting him to come out of his hiding place and convince his sister of his identity.

She tells him of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra’s plot to murder Agamemnon and, after a long rant that involves summoning the spirit of their father to help them, Orestes decides to avenge his father by murdering both his mother and her lover.

Orestes and Pylades pretend to be wandering travelers and knock on the door, calling Aegisthus with news of Orestes’ death. Clytemnestra, delighted, goes inside to call Aegisthus, only for him to die when he meets Orestes in private. When she finds out, he threatens to kill her too, in spite of her pleading and remembering him of the fact she raised him. Orestes has troubles deciding if he has to murder her too to avenge her or not, but eventually decides the cause is just and does it. Then she wraps both corpses on Agamemnon’s cloak.

Sadly for Orestes, the cycle of violence doesn’t end there. The murder of his mother plagues him with guilt and soon starts seeing the Erinyes (anthropomorphic versions of vengueance) surrounding him, prompting him to flee in pain.

Tropes used in The Libation Bearers include: