IV Nurse Day
January 25, 2016

orestes and leander


The diction, as so often in modern attempts to render ancient voices, wobbles between being strenuously high (“the place where my memory lives is a shadowy, ambiguous place, comforted by soft, eroding edges”) and, sometimes, jarringly banal (“Once he learned that I was preparing to murder my husband, Aegisthus became serious”).
Why is this? The parents of Orestes were Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Far more interesting were the various events that surrounded this murder — events most famously captured by dramatist Aeschylus in his Oresteia, a compendium of three plays: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides. All three of them eventually escaped, carrying with them the statue of Artemis. The name of this house is meant to be ironic. The Orestes story is related in the third person, a device that deprives the eponymous hero of Aeschylus’ trilogy of his own voice—the author’s sly riposte, perhaps, to the fact that in so many Greek myths women’s concerns, like their bodies, are subordinated to those of men.
The act of revenge comes when Clytemnestra murders her husband, Agamemnon, upon his return from war with the help of her lover, Aegisthus; this is covered in Aeschylus’ play, Agamemnon. when the gods are fading" (page 206)? House of Names begins when Agamemnon invites his wife Clytemnestra, their son Orestes, and their daughter Iphigenia to Aulis under the pretense of Iphigenia’s marriage. 8. After days of hazardous travel, the boys are attacked by ferocious dogs. Theodotus — The foremost elder of the Mycenean council, his grandson, Leander, is kidnapped by Aegisthus’ men. Following this, Orestes once more becomes the story’s focalizer, detailing again in third-person his journey from the old woman’s house, to Leander’s house, and then to Mycenea, whereupon he reunites with his mother and Electra, and witnesses the tension that has come over the palace. When Orestes needs to attack one of the men pursuing him, he thinks he "could do anything if he did not worry for a second or even calculate" (pages 124–25). Nobody liked to fiddle with Greek myths more than the Greeks did. This pitiless, at times gruesome, retelling of the old story is paradoxically charged with a compelling beauty. So, days later, in a small ceremony, Orestes and Ianthe are married.

As time passed, a note of irreverence crept in: in Euripides’ “Electra,” Aeschylus’ grim moralizing and Sophocles’ agonized psychologizing have been edged aside by an almost postmodern willingness to poke fun at literary models. And yet, although authors working in a number of genres have revisited the plots and characters of Greek tragedy—from Ovid’s playful verse epic Metamorphoses, in the first century A.D., to “Mourning Becomes Electra,” Eugene O’Neill’s 1931 updating of the Oresteia narrative to the Civil War era—the genre has tended to resist novelistic adaptation. Orestes was the son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra in Greek mythology, who was hunted by the Erinyes after he killed his mother. orestes Hail to thee, prophetic Loxias, for these thy utterances! Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time. The Greeks themselves understood this: even in the most tawdrily revisionist adaptations—such as Euripides’ “Orestes,” the play in which Aeschylus’ high-minded Orestes and anguished Electra have become no more than a pair of young thugs—the gods and their plots and plans loom large. Here is collected a variety of terms used throughout this study guide, which relate to Hellenic myths and which therefore are of use to students interested in critically engaging with House of Names; they are presented in alphabetical order, and are collected both from the novel and from independent research, especially in relation to Aeschylus’ The Oresteia.

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