The Trial of Orestes: Athena’s Decision

Last Updated: 30 Mar 2023
Pages: 4 Views: 72

The fate of Orestes lies with the powerful goddess Athena. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, law, and Justice, is the Judge for the trial of Orestes. Orestes is being tried for the murder of his mother, Clytemnestra. Orestes never states that he did not kill his mother, but instead he claims it was Justifiable homicide. Clytemnestra killed Orestes' father Agamemnon, so Orestes got revenge on her. Apollo, the son of Zeus, sides with Orestes and acts as a spokesperson and attorney for him.

The Furies, ancient goddesses who are brutal creatures of revenge, represent the ghost of Clytemnestra in the play. Apollo and the Furies clash many times throughout the trial, and it makes for an exciting showdown. At the conclusion of the trial, the case is so close that not even Athena feels fit to decide Orestes' destiny. She calls upon a group of men to decide the case, and this sets the foundation of a Jury that will Judge all future murder cases. Athena casts her vote in favor of Orestes, and that will be the deciding vote if the Jurors are tied.

There's a moment of suspense as the ballots are tallied, then Athena announces that the ballots are tied: Orestes is set free. The actors that led to this verdict in favor of Orestes are: males are superior to females; Zeus approved the murder of Clytemnestra; Clytemnestra broke the sacred marriage bond by murdering her husband; and the acquittal will lead to a pact between Athens and the Furies. Athena's decision to free Orestes not only changes Orestes' life, but the life of Athens for years to come.

Order custom essay The Trial of Orestes: Athena’s Decision with free plagiarism report

feat icon 450+ experts on 30 subjects feat icon Starting from 3 hours delivery
Get Essay Help

One of the dynamics that led to the Judgment in favor of Orestes is the superiority of paternity over maternity. Orestes' defense is that the murder of a woman is less significant than the murder of a man, so the killing of Clytemnestra should be seen in ight of the slaying of Agamemnon. Apollo states that a person can have a father and no mother, and points to Athena as a perfect example of this. Athena was born from Zeus' skull instead of the womb of her mother. Apollo then argues that the father, the one who plants the seed, is the only true parent.

Therefore, Orestes' slaying of Clytemnestra was warranted. Another reason Orestes' murder was Justified is because Clytemnestra killed her husband and broke the sanctified marriage bond. The Furies respond by saying Orestes' murder of his mother was worse, because he killed his own blood. Here, we ee a clash of the old and new deities: The ancient goddesses known as the Furies versus the leaders of the new school, Zeus and Apollo. The Furies stress the sacredness of family blood while Apollo stresses the sacredness of marriage.

The primitive, older goddesses are defending the blood relation, as it's the fundamental link between child and parent that's handed down from generation to generation. The marriage bond is much newer than the blood bond, as marriage is a product of civilization and structure in society. "Marriage of a man and wife is fate itself, stronger than oaths, and Justice guards its life. (L. 21 5) Apollos claiming that nothing is stronger than fate, and marriage is brought about by fate. Also, by saying that "Justice guards its life," Apollos claiming that if someone breaks a marriage, they should have to face Justice.

Because Clytemnestra broke her marriage ties by killing her husband, she should pay the price with death. Another tactor tavoring Orestes is Zeus authorized and permi ed tt the assassination of Clytemnestra. Zeus, king of the gods and embodiment of Justice, couldn't possibly have ordered something unjust. However, the Furies once again fire back, and they xpress that Zeus himself put his own father in shackles. This statement appalls Apollo, as he argues there's an enormous difference between shackling a man and murdering him. Zeus' power and dominance cannot be compared to that of any other man or god.

If Zeus sanctioned the murder of Clytemnestra, then it must be validated. The last element that led to the outcome in support of Orestes is the acquittal would result in a treaty between Athens and Argos. The result of the trial is much to the benefit of Athena and her great city. At first, the Furies are outraged by the verdict and they promise to bring destruction to the land. After multiple attempts, Athena's finally able to reason with the Furies. She explains to them that they will be beneficiaries of Athens if they choose to come.

Instead of continuing on a path of hatred and destruction, Athena offers them peace and a comfortable home. "l will embrace one home with you, Athena, never fail the city, you, and Zeus almighty' (L. 927-930). Finally, they take her up on the offer, and the Furies promise to defend Athens for it's best interests. The tone of the Furies changes from anger and hate to mercy and love. The Furies Job is to preside over Athens, and act as the citys guardians. Peace and harmony will finally reign over the mighty city of Athens.

The ending to the play came as a major surprise, as Orestes was set free and the Furies made peace with the city of Athens. The trial of Orestes was a huge turning point in Greek society. Athena's decision to pick a Jury to decide the fate of Orestes set a precedent that is still in place today for all murder trials. All of the events that rocked the House of Atreus led to a unique connection between the Furies and Athena's wonderful city, the city of Athens. In the end, rather than destroying each other, the new deities integrated with the old to form an unbreakable bond.

Cite this Page

The Trial of Orestes: Athena’s Decision. (2018, Jun 14). Retrieved from

Don't let plagiarism ruin your grade

Run a free check or have your essay done for you

plagiarism ruin image

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Save time and let our verified experts help you.

Hire writer