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Classical Studies Essay

1561 words - 7 pages

In the third and final instalment of the Oresteia, The Eumenides, Aeschylus makes use of a number of literary techniques in order to heighten the dramatic effect in the play.The most prominent of these techniques is the playwright's strong characterisation throughout the play. This is most evident in the stark contrast he creates between Athena and Apollo in both their roles and their attitude towards the Furies. In the god's first sighting of the Furies, Aeschylus emphasises Apollo's disgust and horror at their appearance, which he refers to as 'obscenities' and describing them as 'grey, ancient children never touched by god, man or beast'. Aeschylus makes no attempt to hide Apollo's ...view middle of the document...

Traditionally, the chorus remained detached from the action of the play, appearing on stage to narrate or commentate the action which was occurring between the other actors with separate roles. In The Eumenides, Aeschylus uses the Furies as both the chorus and the antagonist, which heightens the dramatic effect by emphasising their sheer power and influence as well as their overwhelming terror and fury. "Out of your living marrow I will drain my red libation, out of your veins I suck my food, my raw, brutal cups," they exclaim. This repeats through much of the chorus' dialogue, which appears in the form of the Furies' magical incantations as they sing of their lust for Orestes' blood and capture, further blurring the lines between their role as chorus and the antagonist and, in turn, heightening the dramatic effect in the play.The characterisation of Orestes is also a significant technique used by Aeschylus in the play. His portrayal of Orestes as an eloquent, likeable young man heightens the sympathy the audience feels for him. This encourages them to make a more emotional investment in both the events of the play and the plight of Orestes', in turn emphasising all elements of the play, i.e. the horror and terror of the Furies, Athena's benevolence and Apollo's stalwart protection.Aescyhlus' use of the Pythia to introduce the play serves a number of purposes, all enhancing the action and events of the play. From the doors of the temple of Apollo, the Pythia, the Delphic oracle, presents the prologue in the form of a prayer to establish a solemn tone for what is to follow and to provide the context for Apollo's sanctuary at Delphi being the focal point for the first part of the play. The first part of the prayer provides the historical context for the importance of Delphi as a religious site and a place of prophesy. In chronological order, she honours the gods who have prophesied from the shrine: Mother Earth, Tradition/Themis, the Titaness whose domain is law and custom (foreshadowing important themes in the Eumenides) and was the mother of Athena, who will play an important role in the second half of the play, then, third by lots of destiny, and perhaps third in the generation of the gods, as a portion by Zeus before the Apollo, then Phoebe, another Titaness, generally associated with the moon, whose name connotes not only radiance but purity, and Apollo's grandmother has bestowed upon him her name at birth, Phoebus Apollo, to whom she passed on the mantle of divine seer.. When coming from his native Delos, he landed at Pallas' headlands to make Mt Parnassus and its heights its home, and become the spokesman of Zeus. The note of purification in these names prepares us for the purging of Orestes. Significantly, the position of prophet has been passed on from god to god peacefully, in contrast to the violent curse of the Atreid clan, passing from generation to generation.Aeschylus also manipulates the tone of the play to heighten the dramatic...

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