Electra

by

Sophocles

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Atreus was Agamemnon’s father and the former king of Mycenae. The “palace of Atreus” and the “royal house of Atreus” are mentioned several times in Electra. These terms refer to both Atreus’s reign as king of Mycenae and the House of Atreus, which began with Tantalus, Pelops’s father and the king of Phrygia, a kingdom in Anatolia, near present-day Turkey. According to myth, Atreus and his twin brother, Thyestes, were exiled by Pelops after killing their half-brother and took harbor in Mycenae. They ruled there in the king’s absence, and when he was killed at war, their reign became permanent. The brothers quarreled over who should be the king, and Thyestes’s son, Aegisthus, murdered Atreus to ensure that his own father would be king. Thyestes ruled over Mycenae for a while, but he was eventually overthrown by Agamemnon and Menelaus.

Atreus Quotes in Electra

The Electra quotes below are all either spoken by Atreus or refer to Atreus. 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:
Grief, Mourning, and Morality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Electra published in 2008.
Lines 1-85 Quotes

To the left the famous temple of Hera. The place
We have reached you may call Mycenae, rich in gold,
And here the palace of Atreus, rich in blood.
From here, some years ago, when your father was murdered,
Your sister Electra handed you into my care.
I carried you off, I saved your life, and then
I brought you up as my own, until you reached
Your prime of manhood, to avenge your father’s murder.

Related Characters: Old Slave (speaker), Electra, Orestes, Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, Agamemnon, Atreus, Pelops, Zeus
Page Number: 7-14
Explanation and Analysis:
Lines 251-470 Quotes

Women, all these laments of mine must make
Me seem so very embittered. I feel ashamed.
I’m forced to do it, though. You must forgive me.
A woman of noble birth could not act otherwise.
When she sees the troubles that haunt her father’s house
Not fading away but growing day and night.

Related Characters: Electra (speaker), Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, The Chorus, Agamemnon, Iphigenia , Atreus, Pelops
Page Number: 254-260
Explanation and Analysis:
Lines 473-515 Quotes

When Pelops in past ages
Won the race with his chariot,
What never-ending sorrow
Struck this land!
When Myrtilus, his helper,
Was drowned beneath the ocean
Tossed headlong from his chariot,
He cursed the race of Pelops
And died in great anguish.
Since that day
This palace has been haunted
By suffering and anguish.

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Electra, Orestes, Agamemnon, Iphigenia , Atreus, Pelops, Myrtilus
Page Number: 504-515
Explanation and Analysis:
Lines 516-822 Quotes

These visions that came to me last night,
These doubtful dreams, Lycean Lord,
If they boded good, grant them fulfilment;
If evil, let them rebound on my foes.
If any by craft would steal the wealth
That I now enjoy, let it not be.
Vouchsafe me always to live as I am,
With life unharmed, to govern the house
Of Atreus’ sons and all this realm.
To dwell in prosperous joy with the friends
I love, who presently share my home.
And with those of my children who bear
No malice against me nor cause me pain.
These prayers, Lycean Apollo, graciously hear
And grant us our humble requests.

Related Characters: Clytemnestra (speaker), Chrysothemis, Agamemnon, Atreus, Apollo
Page Number: 644-656
Explanation and Analysis:
Lines 1398-1510 Quotes

O seed of Atreus, how much you have suffered!
But now this attack has forced you out
Into freedom. You’ve come to the ending.

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Electra, Orestes, Aegisthus, Agamemnon, Atreus, The Furies
Page Number: 1508-1510
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Electra LitChart as a printable PDF.
Electra PDF

Atreus Character Timeline in Electra

The timeline below shows where the character Atreus appears in Electra. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-85
Justice and Revenge Theme Icon
...is the place Orestes has always dreamed of returning to, noting that the palace of Atreus is “rich in blood.” It was here, many years ago, that Orestes’s sister, Electra, gave... (full context)