Questions and Discussion Topics:
Aeschylus’ Eumenides

1. How are the various patterns of imagery and themes developed in this play? How are they finally resolved at the end of the trilogy?

2. What is the incentive moment of this play? There are two different locations in this play. What are they and how does Aeschylus indicate the change of scene?

3. The opening scenes of this play contained a number of surprises for the Greek audience, departures from the conventional structure of tragedy. What are these surprises and how effective do you imagine they were when the play was actually performed? For example:

4. What is the major dilemma of this play? Compare and contrast it with the dilemmas of earlier plays. How is it resolved? How is the resolution of this dilemma related to the definitive end of the curse?

5. The middle of this play is probably our first example of a courtroom drama. Which characters play the role of defendant? prosecuting attorney? defense attorney? judge? jury?

6. What is the primary basis of the Furies' accusation against Orestes? Explain the three counter arguments of Apollo. Which of these arguments wins the day for Orestes? How is this related to the most prominent theme in the trilogy?

7. The trial leaves the larger conflict still unresolved. What is this conflict? Who solves it? How?

October, 1999
Barbara F. McManus
CLS 267 Topics Page