Blog Post 1: The Furies of Eumenides

The passage I chose from The Eumenides spoken by the Leader of the Furies exhibits Aeschylus’ intention to portray the desire or enjoyment of killing a man as a very raw animalistic desire that makes you less than human, or in this case Goddess.

The clear trail of man. After it, silent

but it tracks his guilt to light. He’s wounded-

go for the fawn, my hounds, the splash of blood,

hunt him, rake him down.

Oh, the labor,

the man-killing labor. My lungs are bursting…

over the wide rolling earth we’ve range in flock,

hurdling the waves in wingless flight and now we come, 

all hot pursuit, outracing ships astern – and now

he’s here, somewhere, cowering like a hare…

the reek of human blood – it’s laughter to my heart! ” (Lines 242-252 Aeschylus)

In my passage the Furies are hunting Orestes all the way to the palace of Athena in Athens where Apollo sent him to seek asylum after fulfilling the blood oath and killing his mother. However, there is no one to fulfill the blood oath on Orestes, which is why the Furies are coming to follow through with their godly right and serve justice for the death of Clytemnestra. Aeschylus uses the Furies hunting Orestes to call attention to the animalistic behavior that arises from taking pleasure in the killing of man and how it is a very corrupt and inhumane form of justice compared to the more humane justice that can be had in the court system Athena creates at the end of The Eumenides. Aeschylus writes the leader of the Furies to refer to them, the Furies, as “hounds” (line 244) and a “flock” (line 248) in this metaphor he creates where the Furies hunt Orestes. The Furies act as predators and Orestes is their pray, or as Aeschylus writes, “the fawn” (line 244) or the “hare” (line 251), and this metaphor speaks to how even in pursuing their godly duty, the Furies are no more than ravenous animals lusting for blood, rather than Goddesses seeking justice for blood shed as the old laws demand. In the staging of this scene, because the Furies are to be depicted as animals it is likely that many of them would be on the lowest level of the stage crawling and crouching very in animalistic poses resembling that of wolves, or large cats, or even predatorily birds like Hawks or Owls. This can create a very ritualistic and barbaric atmosphere representing what were once the old ways of the Gods and man, and Aeschylus would want it to look both mesmerizing in the sense of lustful desire, as well as, disgusting and terrifying to represent the cruelty. I imagine they would slowly begin to surround Orestes would is kneeling at the feet of Athena, as though the Furies are slowly but surely coming in for the kill. Aeschylus wants you to be terrified and sympathize for the life of Orestes and his deserving of a fair trial from these hideous animals who only seek to kill him for what Aeschylus writes as the lust of blood, and not that of justice as is determined through the court they eventually make.

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