The Greek tragedy “Electra” was written by Euripides in 410 B.C. There is a work with the same name by Sophocles but it was never determined which one was written first. The plot happened even before the Trojan war.
Agamemnon decided, under the influence of goddess Artemis, to sacrifice his daughter Iphigeneia. In return, the goddess would give enough wind for the Greeks to sail to Troy. Agamemnon’s wife Clytemnestra never forgave him for their daughter’s death so she decided to kill him with the help of her lover Aegisthus.
The plot of “Electra” links to this one. Clytemnestra’s daughter Electra and her brother Orestes decide to get their revenge for the death of their father.
Several problems are being shown in this tragedy. We have the moral doubts regarding Orestes and Electra’s revenge. Their great suffering still doesn’t explain their need for revenge. Electra’s inner conflict is a symbol of psychological problems because she was in a battle with herself. The historic problem is the creation of the tragedy itself. It came to life after Helen, Clytemnestra’s sister, was kidnapped which was the cause of the Trojan war.
God’s run the faiths of the characters in this tragedy and they suffer a lot. Electra and Orestes were shedding blood for blood because of their mother’s sins but still everything their mother had put them through isn’t a fair enough motive to kill.
In the first act, Electra’s husband has a monolog about Electra’s innocence, her father’s death, and the misfortunate faith. Electra tells all about the hatred she feels for her mother Clytemnestra for killing her father Agamemnon and remarrying. When Clytemnestra married her lover she kicked Electra and her brother Orestes out of the house. Orestes was banished and they forced Electra to marry a peasant.
The peasant keeps on telling the story. He tells how he doesn’t want to have children with Electra because he is scared of her brother and well aware of the fact that Clytemnestra gave him Electra’s hand in marriage just so she wouldn’t marry someone who could avenge her father’s death.
The tragedy continues in the city Argos with Oreste’s arrival. He announces immediately that he is ready to search for Electra and avenge the death of their father.
The second act begins with Orestes and Electra’s encounter. Electra tells him all about her hard life and she tells him that she doesn’t know where her brother is and how she is married for a peasant who was way below her on the social scale. Even though she considers her husband to be below her she still sees him as an ally because he wants the best for her and still respects the fact that he isn’t completely her husband due to range differences.
Orestes doesn’t present himself as her brother but as a messenger. He told her that her brother was alive and that he is getting ready to get revenge. Then the peasant appears and asks Orestes and his company to stay with them as their guests.
They talk and Orestes tells Electra that she probably wouldn’t recognize her brother if she saw him because they were split up when they were children. Also, he says that the only person that would recognize him is Agamemnon’s teacher who saved him from a sure death.
Electra orders her husband to go and look for someone to help him with the food preparation.
In the third act, Agamemnon’s teacher comes and brings food. He tells Electra that he saw a piece of curly hair while he was passing by Agamemnon’s grave and that it could be the hair of her brother. Then the old man recognizes Orestes and they start plotting together.
The old man tells them that he saw their mother’s lover getting ready to bring a sacrifice to the gods. He gives advice to Orestes on getting close to Aegisthus and getting his revenge. Electra decided to take her mother’s life. She planned on inviting her to her home with the news of giving birth to a baby.
In the fourth act, a scream far away was heard. Electra was scared thinking it was Orestes but the messenger brought her good news about him being alive and killing Aegisthus with his sword. Orestes brought his body and he was followed by an army and servants who found out he was Agamemnon’s son.
In the fifth act, Electra is proud of her brother and she knew it was her turn. Clytemnestra came to visit her daughter and her alleged grandchild. She was getting ready to give a sacrifice to the gods because her daughter gave birth. Orestes wasn’t sure whether they should kill their mother but Electra was determined to do it because she was the one to blame for their father’s death.
Clytemnestra’s and Electra’s talk leads up to Agamemnon. She told Electra that her father had to pay for what he had done and she tells her all about the sacrifice of her older sister. Clytemnestra also told Electra that her father brought another woman to their home.
In the moment when Clytemnestra enters the house to bring her sacrifices, Electra and Orestes kill her.
In the sixth act when they leave the house a feeling of guilt was growing inside of them. Castor and Pollux appear and tell Electra and Orestes how to behave and explain what will happen in the future.
Their punishment was to be eternally separated and to live far away from their city. Agamemnon’s brother was going to take care of Clytemnestra’s funeral and Aegisthus was going to be buried by the citizens of Argos.
Genre: tragedy in 6 acts
Characters: Electra, Orestes, Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, Aegisthus, Castor, Pollus, messenger, peasant, the chorus
Time: the end of the Trojan war
Euripides was one of the most famous Greek authors.There is not a lot of saved information about Euripides, probably one of the reasons for this is his lack of interest for engaging in politics.
He was working as an ambassador in Sicily, considered to be the owner of a house library because of his extreme wealth and education.
He received his education from several different teachers, including famous Socrates as well. Considering his private life and the date of birth,a lot of information are disputable.
One of the sources indicate him being born near the Salamina somewhere in the time of the famous battle being led nearby, and the others believe he was born as the citizen of Athens, 484. B.C.
It is believed he won four or five times at the drama festivals, first time with the lost drama “The Daughters of Pelizaeus”, in 484. B.C.
He leaves Athens 403. B.C. at the invitation of Macedonian king Archelaus, and he allegedly died there as well in 406. B. C.
He is considered to be the author of some 90 different plays. Exact number remains unknown because for some of them authorship isn’t determined. Although, only nineteen of them are kept until today.
In his dramas gods are losing their leading roles, gain some imperfections and lose the spotless images. Euripides equalizes them with humans, entering monologs in his dramas and uses the common language without adding irrelevant figures and descriptions. He is also being considered as a founder of psychological drama.
Some of the researchers tell about his huge post-mortem popularity, although he hasn’t been very popular during his lifetime among the public of Athens. He remains one of the most influencing tragedy writers of all times, although he got recognized after he deceased.
One of his most famous and saved works are “Medea”, “The Children of Hercules”, “Hipolit”, “Electra”, “Troians”