Justice In The Eumenides And The Penelopiad

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The idea of 'justice' in ancient Greece is confusing. In both the trial in The Eumenides and the depiction of the trial in The Penelopiad, the “accused” do not deny the murders they commit. What seems to be more important is the reasoning and justification of the murder. In The Penelopiad, the court is depicted as a familiar 21st century model. The Attorney for the Defense opens the argument, “Was he or was he not justified in the slaughtering, … we do not dispute the slaughters themselves … [of] upwards of a hundred and twenty well-born young men, give or take a dozen (page 175, Penelopiad)” Atwood emphasizes the extreme number to draw attention to the staggering difference of what justice meant. It does not matter how gruesome the murders the men, “had been eating up his food without his permission, annoying his wife, and plotting to murder his son and usurp his throne. (page 175, Penelopiad)” These acts, argue the defense, justify a slaughter. Without any substantive statements, the judge agrees.…show more content…
Orestes describes to the jurors, “I drew my sword – more I cut her throat. (page 257, Eumenides)” Instead of denying the act, he incites that Apollo said it was a good idea and that his mom totally deserved it. The Furies reject the later, saying how Clytaemestra didn't kill family, “The blood of the man she killed was not her own. (page 258, Eumenides)” The rest of the trial was mostly Apollo arguing on behalf of Orestes. Similarly to the argument of the Defense in The Penelopiad, Apollo mostly provides anecdotal remarks about how, “The woman you call the mother of the child is not the parent, just a nurse to the seed, the new-sown seed that grows and swells inside her...(page 260, Eumenides)” Somehow, these anecdotes succeed and Orestes is cleared of
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