Agamemnon, The Choephori, and The Eumenides By Aeschylus Summary and Analysis The Eumenides: First Stasimon (Lines 143-178)

Summary

The Furies awaken and howl angrily about the escape of Orestes, "the hunted beast." They indignantly claim that Apollo has stepped beyond the limits of propriety by helping him to get away. They accuse Apollo and the other "younger gods" of having gained sovereignty through the use of force, and of lacking respect for the ancient deities and laws. The Furies shout that Orestes will never escape them despite Apollo's interference. The murder of Clytaemestra eventually will be avenged by a member of the same family, thus carrying the bloody curse on the family of Atreus into another generation.

Analysis

The weakness of the moral position represented by the Furies is shown by the prediction in the last lines of this ode that Orestes will be killed by a member of his own family. The only solution the Furies can visualize is one in which the law of blood revenge is applied absolutely, without compassion or understanding. Each succeeding avenger will himself become, like Orestes, a victim of revenge, and the curse will haunt the family forever. The conception of justice held by the Furies is based on strict enforcement of the letter of the law — it has no place for investigation of circumstances, motives, or consequences, no flexibility, and no sense of proportion.

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