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MonkeyNotes-Electra by Euripides
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PLOT (Synopsis)

King Agamemnon returns to Argos after his victory in the Trojan war. His wife Clymenestra and Aegisthus murder him. Then they get married. Orestes, the son of King Agamemnon is sent off to Phocis for safety by an old and faithful servant who fears that 2Aegisthus may murder him too. Electra, the daughter of Agamemnon stays in Argos. As she grows older she is made to marry a humble peasant so that she does not bear brave sons who would be powerful enough to avenge the death of Agamemnon.

One day when Electra and her husband go out for work, Orestes and his friend Phylades come to the farm to search for her. They hear her singing a lament mourning the death of her father. A messenger interrupts her with the information that a festival in honor of Goddess Hera is to be held, and the maidens from Argive are to attend. Electra says that she prefers to be away from the pitying eyes of the people there. The messenger advises her to pay respects to the gods and to seek their help.

Electra mistakes Orestes and Phylades as friends of her brother. She tells them her sorrowful story and also about the injustice done to her brother. She wishes that Orestes avenges the death of Agamemnon and also his and her suffering.

The peasant returns from work and invites Orestes and Phylades to be his guests. Electra sends her husband to bring the old man who had saved the life of Orestes by taking him away from Argos. While the old man and Electra’s husband are on their way to Electra, they pass by the tomb of Agamemnon. A sacrifice has been made and there are some red hairs there. The old man thus presumes that Orestes may be in the vicinity and has performed the sacrifice.


Being advised by the old man, Orestes decides to attend the feast, which would be presided by Aegisthus. Electra sends a message to Clymenestra that she has delivered a baby, so that Electra visits her, and she can take revenge from her.

Orestes and Phylades go away from the scene. They encounter Aegisthus as they pass by his garden. They tell him that they are from Thessaly and are on their way to the sacrifice, which is to be performed to Zeus. Aegisthus informs them that he is preparing a sacrifice in honor of the nymphs and he invites them to participate. They accept the invitation. After the sacrifice is made, and Aegisthus is examining the parts of the feast, Orestes stabs him. He then reveals his identity to those who are present there. Then he returns to Electra’s cottage with Phylades and the dead body of Aegisthus.

Clymenestra approaches the hut of Electra. Orestes feels doubtful whether he should murder her. But Electra persuades him to do so, reminding him of Apollo’s oracle by which he has been told to kill his mother.

Clymenestra and Electra meet. Electra taunts her for her abhorable actions. But Clymenestra defends herself by saying that Agamemnon killed their daughter Iphigenia as an offering, before the Trojan war. He also brought Cassandra as his concubine. Electra continues to blame her for various reasons. Then she requests her (Clymenestra) to perform the tenth day sacrifice for her supposed newborn infant. Thus Clymenestra goes in and is killed by Orestes who is encouraged and helped by Electra. Her plea to spare her is not adhered to by them. After that they are both very sorry for having committed the gruesome murder of their own mother.

The Dioscori, who are the twin sons of Zeus and brothers of Clymenestra, appear to Electra and Orestes. According to these twin gods, Apollo is guilty of having advised the gruesome act of matricide. It is decreed that Electra be given in marriage to Phylades; Orestes is to be pursued by the Furies until he faces a trial at Athens from which he would emerge as a free man.

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