The Eumenides

Athena Character Analysis

The goddess of wisdom, civilization, justice, and skill, and a daughter of Zeus. Athena is the patron of Athens and the judge in Orestes’ trial. She strives for justice, but at the same time feels a duty to protect her city. In contrast to the raging Furies and the often arrogant Apollo, Athena is a voice of reason and clarity. She does not believe in vengeance, and displays diplomacy and thoughtfulness at all times.

Athena Quotes in The Eumenides

The The Eumenides quotes below are all either spoken by Athena or refer to Athena. 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 235-566 Quotes

Queen Athena,
Under Apollo’s orders I have come.
Receive me kindly. Curst and an outcast,
No suppliant for purging…my hands are clean.

Related Characters: Orestes (speaker), Athena, Apollo
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 232-235
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugia

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non pr

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Eumenides quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

Two sides are here, and only half is heard.

Related Characters: Athena (speaker), Orestes, The Furies
Page Number: 440
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

ATHENA: …you are set
On the name of justice rather than the act.

LEADER: How? Teach us. You have a genius for refinements.

ATHENA: Injustice, I mean, should never triumph thanks to oaths.

LEADER: Then examine him yourself, judge him fairly.

ATHENA: You would turn over responsibility to me,
To reach the final verdict?

LEADER: Certainly.
We respect you. You show us respect.

Related Characters: Athena (speaker), The Furies (speaker), Orestes
Page Number: 442-449
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderi

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

But were we just or not? Judge us now.
My fate is in your hands. Stand or fall
I shall accept your verdict.

Related Characters: Orestes (speaker), Athena
Page Number: 482-484
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla par

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse ci

Embrace the one? Expel the other? It defeats me.
I will appoint the judges of manslaughter,
Swear them in, and found a tribunal here
For all time to come.
My contestants,
Summon your trusted witnesses and proofs,
Your defenders under oath to help your cause.
And I will pick the finest men of Athens,
Return and decide the issue fairly, truly—
Bound to our oaths, our spirits bent on justice.

Related Characters: Athena (speaker), Orestes, The Furies
Page Number: 496-505
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate veli

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit

Lines 567-1043 Quotes

And now
If you would hear my law, you men of Greece,
You who will judge the first trial of bloodshed.
Now and forever more, for Aegeus’ people
This will be the court where judges reign.

Here from the heights, terror and reverence,
My people’s kindred powers
Will hold them from injustice through the day
And through the mild night.

Untouched by lust for spoil, this court of law
Majestic, swift to fury, rising above you
As you sleep, our night watch always wakeful,
Guardian of our land—I found it here and now.

Related Characters: Athena (speaker)
Page Number: 692-721
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in volupta

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, Lorem ipsum dLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat n

Lorem ipsum dLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dol

Beware. Our united force can break your land.
Never wound our pride, I tell you, never.

Related Characters: The Furies (speaker), Athena
Page Number: 726-727
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa q

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pari

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit i

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

You, you younger gods!—
You have ridden down
The ancient laws, wrenched them from my grasp—
And I, robbed of my birthright, suffering, great with wrath,
I loose my poison over the soil, aieee!
Poison to match my grief comes pouring out my heart,
Cursing the land to burn it sterile and now
Rising up from its roots a cancer blasting leaf and child,
Now for Justice, Justice!—cross the face of the earth
The bloody tide comes hurling, all mankind destroyed.

Related Characters: The Furies (speaker), Athena, Apollo
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 820-828
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proi

And now you’d vent your anger, hurt the land?
Consider a moment. Calm yourself. Never
Render us barren, raining your potent showers
Down like spears, consuming every seed.
By all my rights I promise you your seat
In the depths of earth, yours by all rights—
Stationed at hearths equipped with glistening thrones,
Covered with praise! My people will revere you.

Related Characters: Athena (speaker), The Furies
Page Number: 812-819
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nul

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim

This is the life I offer,
It is yours to take.
Do great things, feel greatness, greatly honoured.
Share this country cherished by the gods.

Related Characters: Athena (speaker), The Furies
Page Number: 876-878
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occ

Lorem ipsum dLorem ipsum dLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia des

Your magic is working…I can feel the hate,
The fury slip away…

Related Characters: The Furies (speaker), Athena
Page Number: 908-909
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat no

I will embrace
One home with you, Athena,
Never fail the city

Spirit of Athens, hear my words, my prayer,
Like a prophet’s warm and kind,
That the rare good things of life
Come rising crest on crest,
Sprung from the rich black earth and
Gleaming with the bursting flash of sun.

Related Characters: The Furies (speaker), Athena
Page Number: 927-938
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pari

Do you hear how Fury sounds her blessings forth,
How Fury finds the way?
Shining out of the terror of their faces
I can see great gains for you, my people.
Hold them kindly, kind as they are to you.
Exalt them always, you exalt your land,
Your city straight and just –
Its light goes through the world.

Related Characters: Athena (speaker), The Furies
Page Number: 997-1004
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est l

Get the entire The Eumenides LitChart as a printable PDF.
The eumenides.pdf.medium

Athena Character Timeline in The Eumenides

The timeline below shows where the character Athena 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
...Apollo, along with Zeus, for bringing civilization to a savage land. She also prays to Athena, the goddess of wisdom; Dionysus, the god of revelry and wine; and Poseidon, the god... (full context)
Lines 64-234
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...men. He urges Orestes to continue running from them until he reaches the citadel of Athena in Athens. The goddess Athena will then judge his case and decide whether or not... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
...lack of respect for marriage, calling their hunt for Orestes “unjust” and telling them that Athena will determine Orestes’ guilt. The Furies, in response, say that they will never let Orestes... (full context)
Lines 235-566
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...to the Acropolis, the main square of Athens, where Orestes kneels before the shrine of Athena and prays for her to shield him from the Furies. He explains that Apollo has... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
...and how he can feel his mother’s blood fading from his hands. He calls upon Athena once again, asking her to come in peace and save him from the wrath of... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The leader of the Furies spits back that neither Apollo nor Athena will be able to save Orestes. She waits for him to reply, but he prays... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
Athena enters, armed for combat, and sees Orestes and the Furies at her altar. She asks... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
Athena then turns to Orestes, asking him to tell her his story, and whether he has... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
Athena contemplates the difficult decision before her: on one hand, she acknowledges that Orestes has come... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
After Athena exits, the chorus of Furies begins to worry that Orestes will be found innocent. They... (full context)
Lines 567-1043
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
The scene shifts to a court within Athens. Athena enters, along with the ten citizens whom she has chosen as members of the jury.... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
Orestes enters, and Athena directs him to the Stone of Outrage. The Furies enter, and Athena places them at... (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
Apollo enters, and Athena questions why he is there. Apollo responds that he has come as a witness for... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
Proclaiming that the trial has begun, Athena offers the Furies—the “prosecution”—the first speech. The leader of the Furies starts to question Orestes,... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
...Zeus would care more about a father’s murder than a mother’s. They remind Apollo and Athena that Zeus defeated his own father, Kronos, in order to gain control over Mt. Olympus. (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
...He goes on to say that a 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... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
Athena asks the Furies if they have anything else to say, and they respond that they... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
Athena comes forward to cast her ballot, and announces that she has been swayed in Orestes’... (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
The votes have been counted, and the lots are equal— therefore, Athena announces, Orestes will go free. Overwhelmed, Orestes cries that Athena has saved his house, and... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
The diplomatic Athena, however, has another solution. She reminds the Furies that they are not disgraced, as the... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
Too wrathful to hear Athena’s words, the Furies again curse the younger gods for their lack of respect for “the... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...humiliated by their disgrace, calling out to their mother Night for their lost, ancient powers. Athena, however, speaks to them respectfully, telling the Furies that they are older and wiser than... (full context)
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
As the Furies repeat their lament once more, Athena again tells them that they are gifted and valuable, and that she respects them. She... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
Interested at last, the leader of the Furies asks Athena if she will really share her home with them. The goddess responds that no home... (full context)
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
The Furies continue their prayer, promising fertility and prosperity for the land of Athens. Athena praises the blessings of the Furies and commands all Athenians to do the same. The... (full context)
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...war will never touch Athens, and that only joy and love will rule the city. Athena is overjoyed that even these embodiments of rage can be transformed, and urges her citizens... (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
...they will be offered gifts and sacrifices. The Furies sing the praises of Athens and Athena, and imagine the prayers and reverence that they will receive. Athena’s entourage brings forward crimson... (full context)