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MonkeyNotes-Electra by Euripides
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Section C

Summary

Orestes regrets having killed his mother. Electra too repents and realizes her guilt. "I was burning with desperate rage against her; yet she is my mother, I her daughter." She says. Then the chorus speaks out:

"How terrible was your fate,

Mother of curses!

Now with double anguish

The curses you bore have turned upon you."

Then the second chorus speaks:

"Yet since you killed their father,

Their revenge is just."

Orestes continues to regret, having murdered his mother. He wonders aloud why the divine command was so drastic. Having obeyed it, he had become a murderer. No god-fearing man would befriend him. Electra too feels that no happy company will welcome her. She would be unwelcome to a dance or a wedding. Who would accept her as his wife? She wonders. The chorus says that she (Electra) has now realized the truth. She has wronged her brother by forcing him to kill their mother against his will.


Then Electra and Orestes describe how Clymenestra died. Orestes describes her agony as "She opened her gown and thrust forth her breast," to show him as he struck. The body that gave him birth "sprawled there on the ground." Then chorus expresses the anguish of Clymenestra: "I heard her shriek-your own mother." She (Clymenestra) implored Electra to spare her but Orestes covered his eyes with a cloak and thrust a sword into her throat. Though the murder is committed by Orestes, Electra is equally guilty because she urged him and held the sword, Her hand beside his. They both cover their motherís body and Electra remarks: "...We love you, though we hated you."

Then the Dioscori-the twin sons of Zeus and brothers of Clymenestra appear to Electra and Orestes. Electra and Orestes have mixed feelings of pride and shame, hate and love. The Castor, one of the Dioscori decrees that Electra be given in marriage to Phylades, and she must leave Argos. Chorus asks Dioscori why they did not shield Electra from pursuing vengeance. Castor replies:

"The pattern of Necessity,

Led where it had to lead,

Helped by the unwise utterance of Apollo."

Electra and Orestes embrace each other and part forever. Electra is very sad to leave the frontiers of Argos. Orestes offers Electra in marriage to Phylades and blesses them. Orestes is to be pursued by the Furies until he faces trial in Athens. Then he would emerge a free man.

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