The Eumenides

The ghost of Clytemnestra Character Analysis

The murderous wife of Agamemnon who was in turn killed by Orestes, Clytemnestra returns from the dead to urge the Furies to punish her son for her death. She represents the old system of vengeance and bloodshed, reminding the audience of the events in The Eumenides’ prequels, Agamemnon and The Libation Bearers.

The ghost of Clytemnestra Quotes in The Eumenides

The The Eumenides quotes below are all either spoken by The ghost of Clytemnestra or refer to The ghost of Clytemnestra. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Eumenides published in 1975.
Lines 64-234 Quotes

You—how can you sleep?
Awake, awake—what use are sleepers now?
I go stripped of honour, thanks to you,
Alone among the dead. And for those I killed
The charges of the dead will never cease, never—
I wander in disgrace, I feel the guilt, I tell you,
Withering guilt from all the outraged dead!
But I suffered too, terribly, from dear ones,
And none of my spirits rages to avenge me.
I was slaughtered by his matricidal hand.
See these gashes—Carve them in your heart!

Related Characters: The ghost of Clytemnestra (speaker), Orestes, The Furies
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 97-107
Explanation and Analysis:

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Marriage of man and wife is Fate itself,
Stronger than oaths, and Justice guards its life.

I say your manhunt of Orestes is unjust.
Some things stir your rage, I see. Others,
Atrocious crimes, lull your will to act.

Related Characters: Apollo (speaker), Orestes, The Furies, The ghost of Clytemnestra, Agamemnon
Page Number: 215-221
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 235-566 Quotes

You’ll give me blood for blood, you must!
Out of your living marrow I will drain
My red libation, out of your veins I suck my food,
My raw, brutal cups—
Wither you alive,
Drag you down and there you pay, agony
For mother-killing agony!
And there you will see them all.
Every mortal who outraged god or guest or loving parent:
Each receives the pain his pains exact.

Related Characters: The Furies (speaker), Orestes, The ghost of Clytemnestra
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 262-269
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 567-1043 Quotes

So
You’d force this man’s acquittal? Behold, Justice!
Can a son spill his mother’s blood on the ground,
Then settle into his father’s halls in Argos?

Related Characters: The Furies (speaker), Orestes, Apollo, The ghost of Clytemnestra, Agamemnon
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 659-662
Explanation and Analysis:

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The woman you call the mother of the child
Is not the parent, just a nurse to the seed,
The new-sown seed that grows and swells inside her.
The man is the source of life—the one who mounts.

Related Characters: Apollo (speaker), Orestes, The ghost of Clytemnestra, Agamemnon
Page Number: 666-669
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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The ghost of Clytemnestra Character Timeline in The Eumenides

The timeline below shows where the character The ghost of Clytemnestra appears in The Eumenides. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
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
...case and decide whether or not he is guilty of matricide (for killing his mother, Clytemnestra). Orestes responds that he trusts Apollo to do what is right. Apollo reveals Hermes, asking... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The ghost of Clytemnestra appears on top of the Navelstone, cursing the Furies for their laziness. She tells them... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
...They ask why the god would help a criminal, and remember their terrifying dream of Clytemnestra. They lament the fact that the Olympians—the young gods—control the world. They then see that... (full context)
Lines 235-566
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
...for his sin. Orestes then goes on to explain his history, recounting how his mother, Clytemnestra, killed his father, Agamemnon. He boldly states that he did indeed murder his mother in... (full context)
Lines 567-1043
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
The Power of the Polis Theme Icon
...has come as a witness for the defense, explaining that he commanded Orestes to kill Clytemnestra, and subsequently purged the mortal of all guilt. He urges Athena to serve justice. (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
...order to avenge his father. He then questions why the Furies did not turn on Clytemnestra, but they again respond that she did not share blood with Agamemnon. When Orestes wonders... (full context)
Revenge vs. Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Power of the Gods Theme Icon
Orestes begs Apollo to explain to the jury why he killed Clytemnestra, adding that his murder was really justice. Apollo agrees, asserting that Orestes was in fact... (full context)