By Matthew Wright
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Extra info for Euripides: Orestes
In no other treatment of the myth had the two branches of the family come together in this way: what role can Helen have to play in the events that follow? It is almost as if Helen and Menelaus have wandered in from the wrong tragedy. Helen, who is ashamed to show her face in public, asks Electra to take a libation to the tomb of Clytemnestra on her behalf. Electra is reluctant to do this, but persuades Helen to send her daughter Hermione instead. Helen gives the graveofferings, which include a lock of her hair, to Hermione (who remains mute) and they both exit.
In this short, unhappy act-dividing song they beseech the Furies to leave Orestes alone, and lament the sufferings of the family, reflecting that prosperity does not endure among men (340-3). As in the parodos, the metre is predominantly dochmiac, appropriate to the mood of tension and foreboding. One of the most remarkable things about this 38 2. 23 The melody, written in the Phrygian mode, was designed to be accompanied on the shawm. Second act (348-806) As the chorus finish singing and dancing, Menelaus at last makes his long-anticipated entry.
In fact, versions of all the major characters in Orestes also appear in other Euripidean tragedies, and they strike us as significantly different in each case. Electra, the first character whom we encounter, initially seems very different from the title character of Euripides’ Electra (probably produced within about five years of Orestes), who married a peasant and pretended to have given birth to his son in order to lure Clytemnestra to her death. She is also more calm and rational than the highly-wrought Electra of Sophocles’ Electra, who has struck many readers as being insane.