The Eumenides

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Zeus Character Analysis

The king of the gods, Zeus is the father of Athena, Hermes, and Apollo, and is often invoked by other characters in their speeches and prayers. All the actions of the play, we are to understand, take place only because Zeus allows and wills them to. The characters think of Zeus as incredibly present in their everyday lives, and believe that he is always watching over them and ultimately controlling their actions.

Zeus Quotes in The Eumenides

The The Eumenides quotes below are all either spoken by Zeus or refer to Zeus. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of The Eumenides published in 1975.
Lines 567-1043 Quotes

Orestes,
I will cast my lot for you.
No mother gave me birth.
I honour the male, in all things but marriage.
Yes, with all my heart I am my Father’s child.
I cannot set more store by the woman’s death—
She killed her husband, guardian of their house.
Even if the vote is equal, Orestes wins.

Related Characters: Athena (speaker), Orestes, The ghost of Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, Zeus
Page Number: 750-756
Explanation and Analysis:

With the jury split down the middle, Athena casts the deciding vote for Orestes. Greek myth has it that the goddess was born from her father Zeus' head, hence her statement that, "No mother gave me birth." Although she is a woman, Athena still believes that children belong to their fathers, and views men as the dominant gender.

Given these facts, Apollo's argument--that a father matters more to a child than a mother--has been successful, and Orestes wins. Although modern readers may view this reasoning as appallingly sexist, ancient audiences would have approved of it as traditional and correct.

It is important, too, that Athena casts the dividing vote in the trial. The Athenian court is as even-handed as the justice that it serves: blind and impartial. They have clearly understood the difficulties of the case, and it is up to Athena, a god, to make the final decision. The brand-new Athenian court is a fair and balanced one.

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Zeus Character Timeline in The Eumenides

The timeline below shows where the character Zeus appears in The Eumenides. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-63
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...morning prayer. She honors her patron god and Mother Earth. She praises Apollo, along with Zeus, for bringing civilization to a savage land. She also prays to Athena, the goddess of... (full context)
Lines 567-1043
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
...was really justice. Apollo agrees, asserting that Orestes was in fact doing the will of Zeus, the omnipotent “Olympian Father,” who is always just. The Furies are scornful, unable to believe... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Furies are skeptical that Zeus would care more about a father’s murder than a mother’s. They remind Apollo and Athena... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
...once again, hissing that the gods “detest” them, and threatening them with the power of Zeus. The Furies are defiant, asking if Apollo intends to force Orestes’ acquittal, and reminding him... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
...father can create children without a mother, using Athena (who famously was born out of Zeus’s head) as an example. He then attempts to flatter Athena, saying that Orestes and his... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...choose. Apollo shoots back that the Furies should fear the wrath of both himself and Zeus. The Furies respond that Apollo is meddling in “works of blood,” and they repeat their... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...him from exile. He vows to honor her in Argos, as well as Apollo and Zeus, and swears that this decision has brought about a new era of friendship between Argos... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...are not disgraced, as the vote was tied. The real outcome, she asserts, came from Zeus. She goes on to ask the Furies not to make Athens barren. Instead, she promises... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...rather than destroying them. She also reminds them that she is the favorite child of Zeus, and the only one with access to his thunderbolts. She urges the Furies to join... (full context)
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...citizens to note and praise the blessings that the Furies have brought, and she praises Zeus for changing the Furies’ minds. (full context)
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...to rejoice in their blessings, as they are beloved by not only Athena, but by Zeus as well. (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...triumph. They pray for everlasting peace between Athens and its newly benevolent protectors, and praise Zeus and Fate for creating such an auspicious union. (full context)