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Klytaimestra Tyrannos: Fear and Tyranny in Aeschylus's Oresteia (with a Brief Comparison with Macbeth)

Bierl, Anton. (2017) Klytaimestra Tyrannos: Fear and Tyranny in Aeschylus's Oresteia (with a Brief Comparison with Macbeth). Comparative Drama, 51 (4). pp. 528-563.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/68276/

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Abstract

In the logic of tragedy, Clytemnestra represents the distorted anti-model in regard to gender-role and political behavior. In contrast to male, just kingship, she establishes a tyranny, together with her lover Aegisthus, after killing Agamemnon. But haunted by fears from the very beginning of the Oresteia , she attempts to calm down the negative forces. First she orders sacrifices all over the city to placate the gods. In a brutal logic she devises the revenge on her returning husband. Acting as Erinys herself, her desire to shed blood is greater than rational restraint. After the horrible deed, the chorus, changing his voice and attitude, starts a collective protest against the new ruler. Clytemnestra claims that as long as Aegisthus inflames the fire in the house, fear will stay away from it. But soon she desires to sign a treaty with the Erinys who now seeks revenge on her. Therefore she restrains her lover from violence against the people of Argos, conscious of the mechanism of Erinys. But her attempts to push the fears away are in vain. In the beginning of Choephori she is haunted by terrible nightmares. Again she recurs to placating libations, now directed to the eidolon of Agamemnon. All her strategies, in words and actions, rhetoric and ritual, are bound to fail. Her terrible dream will turn out real, providing the imagery on scene: the dragon sucking her breast will turn out to be Orestes. The ritual remains ineffective, since the agents, the chorus of the libation-bearers together with Electra, reverse the goal of their action. Entangled in fears, she must fall in her new tyrannical power. Only in the last part of the trilogy, the role of fear will be redirected against the enemies according to a new polis ideology. The contribution concludes with a brief comparative remark on Macbeth , since both Aeschylus and Shakespeare focus on the precarious state of the tyrant's power and on its subconscious basis.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Altertumswissenschaften > Fachbereich Gr├Ązistik
04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Altertumswissenschaften > Fachbereich Gr├Ązistik > Griechische Philologie (Bierl)
UniBasel Contributors:Bierl, Anton F.H.
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Chadwyck-Healey
ISSN:0010-4078
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Last Modified:13 Feb 2019 14:22
Deposited On:13 Feb 2019 14:22

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