Electra

by

Sophocles

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Chrysothemis Character Analysis

Chrysothemis is Electra and Orestes’s sister and the daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon. Chrysothemis represents the oppression of women in ancient Greek society within the play. Unlike Electra, Chrysothemis is accepting of Aegisthus’s assumed role as her “lord and master,” and she considers it her duty to submit to his authority. She claims to hate both her mother and Aegisthus for their murder of Agamemnon, but she doesn’t see the point in “posing a threat without any power to harm.” Like broader Greek society, Chrysothemis believes that women are weak, especially in the face of power like that of Aegisthus, so she feels that it’s better not to try and challenge him. When Electra tells Chrysothemis of her plan to murder Aegisthus, Chrysothemis accuses Electra of being “mad” because she is a woman, not a man, and so she doesn’t have the power to kill Aegisthus and exact revenge for their father’s death. Of course, it turns out that Electra is capable of revenge, and she is not powerless in the face of men like Aegisthus either. Though Chrysothemis remains hesitant throughout the play and never agrees with Electra’s plan, she does have her own small moment of rebellion when she throws away the libations that Clytemnestra had ordered Chrysothemis to place on Agamemnon’s grave.

Chrysothemis Quotes in Electra

The Electra quotes below are all either spoken by Chrysothemis or refer to Chrysothemis. 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 251-470 Quotes

Here you are again, holding forth
At the palace gateway! Electra, what are you doing?
Haven’t you learned by now? Your anger’s pointless.
Don’t indulge it for nothing. I must admit
This situation distresses me too. If only
I had the strength, I’d show them how I feel.
But things are bad. It’s wiser to trim my sails,
Not pose as a threat without any power to harm.
I wish you’d do the same. I know full well
That right is on your side, but if I want
To be free, our lords and masters must be obeyed.

Related Characters: Chrysothemis (speaker), Electra, Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, Agamemnon
Page Number: 328-340
Explanation and Analysis:

Well, I’ll tell you all that I know myself.
Their plan is this: if you won’t stop lamenting,
They’ll send you where you’ll never see the sun,
Buried alive in a cave across the frontier,
To chant your miseries there. You’d better think
About it carefully. Don’t blame me when you suffer
Later on. You need to be sensible now.

Related Characters: Chrysothemis (speaker), Electra, Clytemnestra, Aegisthus
Page Number: 378-384
Explanation and Analysis:

They say she saw our father beside her again,
Restored to life. He then took hold of the staff
He used to carry and now Aegisthus wields,
And planted it on the hearth. This sprouted up
And grew to a leafy branch which overshadowed
The whole of Mycenae. So much I learned
From someone present when she revealed her dream
To the god of the Sun. That’s all I know, except
That our mother’s frightened enough to send me out.

Related Characters: Chrysothemis (speaker), Electra, Orestes, Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, Agamemnon, Apollo
Page Number: 417-427
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 871-1057 Quotes

So long as I still had word that our brother Orestes
Was alive and well, I went on hoping that he
Would one day come to avenge his father’s murder.
But now that he’s gone for good, I’m looking to you.
You mustn’t flinch. Your sister needs your help
To kill Aegisthus—the man who perpetrated
Our father’s murder. No secrets between us now.
Where will inaction get you? What can you still
Look forward to? Only resentment in being deprived
Of your father’s heritage. Only the pain of growing
Old without the blessings of love or marriage.
Those joys are nothing more than a forlorn hope.
Aegisthus isn’t foolish enough to allow
A son of yours—or a son of mine—to grow
To manhood and so to ensure his own destruction.

Related Characters: Electra (speaker), Orestes, Aegisthus, Chrysothemis, Agamemnon
Page Number: 951-966
Explanation and Analysis:

Yes, women, if Electra had any sense at all,
She wouldn’t have thrown all caution to the winds
Before giving tongue. What are you trying to do?
Why are you putting on this audacious front
And calling on me to follow? Don’t you see?
You’re not a man, but a woman. You haven’t the strength
To conquer your foes. Their star is rising daily,
While our fortunes are ebbing away to nothing.
Who could plot to murder a man as strong
As Aegisthus and then emerge from the fray unscathed?

Related Characters: Chrysothemis (speaker), Electra, Aegisthus, The Chorus
Page Number: 993-1002
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Electra LitChart as a printable PDF.
Electra PDF

Chrysothemis Character Timeline in Electra

The timeline below shows where the character Chrysothemis appears in Electra. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 121-250
Grief, Mourning, and Morality Theme Icon
...the chorus points out, Electra isn’t the only one left to mourn Agamemnon. Electra’s sister, Chrysothemis, and her brother, Orestes, must mourn too.  (full context)
Lines 251-470
Grief, Mourning, and Morality Theme Icon
Gender and Society Theme Icon
...something difficult. “I never hesitated when I saved his life,” she says. Suddenly, Electra’s sister, Chrysothemis, approaches. (full context)
Grief, Mourning, and Morality Theme Icon
Gender and Society Theme Icon
Chrysothemis asks Electra what she’s doing and reminds her that there’s no point in being angry... (full context)
Deception, Falsehood, and Trust Theme Icon
Electra refuses to stop mourning, telling Chrysothemis that irritating Agamemnon’s murderers is a way of honoring his memory. Her sister says that... (full context)
Grief, Mourning, and Morality Theme Icon
Gender and Society Theme Icon
Chrysothemis tells the chorus that Aegisthus is going to make Electra stop grieving soon. She claims... (full context)
Justice and Revenge Theme Icon
Electra then asks Chrysothemis where she’s going, and to whom she’s bringing offerings. Chrysothemis says that she is carrying... (full context)
Justice and Revenge Theme Icon
Deception, Falsehood, and Trust Theme Icon
Electra tells Chrysothemis not to deliver the libations as ordered. She tells her sister to instead discard the... (full context)
Lines 871-1057
Grief, Mourning, and Morality Theme Icon
Gender and Society Theme Icon
Suddenly, Chrysothemis rushes in with what she calls “quite undignified haste,” excited to share happy news with... (full context)
Justice and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Society Theme Icon
Electra, however, has her own plan to improve their situation. She says that she and Chrysothemis must kill Aegisthus if they are ever to be happy again. With Aegisthus alive, they... (full context)
Grief, Mourning, and Morality Theme Icon
Justice and Revenge Theme Icon
Gender and Society Theme Icon
Chrysothemis tells Electra that because she’s a woman, she’ll never have enough strength to win this... (full context)
Lines 1058-1097
Justice and Revenge Theme Icon
...“plague” that has fallen on Agamemnon’s house. The children battle with one another; Electra despises Chrysothemis, and it seems as if peace will never come. Electra now fights alone, “Nightingale-like” in... (full context)