Justice In The Oresteia

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ustice, fairness, and decency, abstract concepts that are innate in society and human nature. However, despite their near universal status in humanities mid, they often have different meanings for individuals. Aeschylus uses The Oresteia in order to explore these issues as characters in the play try to determine what it means to be just, what ought a just actor do, and what is the best model for achieving justice. The characters discuss ideas such as vengeance, reciprocity, balance, moderation, and finally the end result of the implied debate leads to a jury system. In this paper I will go over two of the several different interpretations of justice used in the Oresteia and compare and contrast them in order to demonstrate which is the best…show more content…
Vengeance is the model used by both the King of Mycene, in order to justify the war after his wife was taken to Troy and by Elextra to justify Orestes duty to kill his mother to avenge the death of his father. In the Libation Bearers, Elektra asks, “‘Repay those that send these honors,’ for they deserve a gift that matches their evil.” (Aeschylus 72) Later on, the chorus asks her the rhetorical question, “How could it not be right to repay your enemy, evil for evil.” (Aeschylus 74) These lines among others in the play demonstrate that the normal thing to do was to exact…show more content…
This is a model that allows people to get what they deserve, however it is lead by restraint. Restraint allows for a delay in order to deliberate and decide on a punishment that fits the crime nicely rather than being over or under sized. By allowing an outside source to view the case, the goal is that both sides points are understood and taken into account. Questions are asked such as what is enough? How far is too far? How can one know what another is deserving of. Important to the success of this model is the impartiality of the one judging. As Athena says in The Furies, “Prejudice is slander to the innocent, and justice should always be impartial.” (Aeschylus 134)
By using moderation and restraint, escalation and an endless loop of retaliation can potentially be avoided. A prominent example of this occurring in the text of the Oresteia is that of the debate and jury between Athena and the Furies. Athena stops and listens to both sides, Orestes and that of the Furies. Realizing that she would be too biased to be impartial, she assembles a Jury in the hopes that bias would be
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