The Libation Bearers

by

Aeschylus

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The Libation Bearers Characters

Orestes

The son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, Orestes is the crown prince of Argos, but has been banished from his homeland for many years, ever since his mother killed his father with the help of… read analysis of Orestes

Electra

The daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, and sister to Orestes, Electra has spent the years of her brother’s exile alone and powerless. Like her sibling, she is incensed by Clytemnestra’s murder of Agamemnon… read analysis of Electra

The Chorus

As is traditional for the tragic Greek chorus, this character is comprised of a group of actors who interact with the main characters and also comment on the events of the play. In this case… read analysis of The Chorus

Clytemnestra

The queen of Argos, widow of Agamemnon, and mother to Orestes and Electra, Clytemnestra is a dominant female character who has only increased in power since she murdered her husband. She rules over… read analysis of Clytemnestra

Aegisthus

Clytemnestra’s lover, and her accomplice in murdering Agamemnon, Aegisthus hates the house of Atreus, which was responsible for his own family’s ruin. He rejoices when he learns (falsely) that Orestes is dead, but… read analysis of Aegisthus
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Agamemnon

The king of Argos, husband of Clytemnestra, and father of Orestes, Electra, and Iphigenia. Agamemnon was murdered by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus in Agamemnon, Aeschylus’s play preceding The Libation Bearersread analysis of Agamemnon

Apollo

The god of the sun, prophecy, and reason, Apollo is not a character within The Libation Bearers (although he does make an appearance in The Eumenides), but Orestes and Pylades often make reference to… read analysis of Apollo

Hermes

Although commonly known as the god of luck, Hermes is also the guide who brings souls down to the Underworld. Prayed to by both Orestes,/span> and Electra, he is, in this context, a symbolread analysis of Hermes

Zeus

The Chorus, Electra, and Orestes constantly invoke the king of the gods, Zeus, in their speeches and prayers. All the actions of the play, we as the audienceare to understand, take place only… read analysis of Zeus

The Furies

Although they only make a brief appearance in The Libation Bearers (and are only ever seen by Orestes), the Furies will become vital players within the play’s sequel, The Eumenides. Goddesses of vengeance… read analysis of The Furies
Minor Characters
Iphigenia
The daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, whom Agamemnon sacrificed to the gods in exchange for safe passage to Troy. Iphigenia’s murder incites Clytemnestra to avenge her by killing Agamemnon.
Atreus
Agamemnon’s father, and the patriarch of the cursed “House of Atreus.” Atreus brought down the curse of the gods when he punished his brother (who had stolen Atreus’s wife and, briefly, his kingdom) by killing his brother’s children, cooking them, and feeding them to him.
Cilissa
The former nurse of Orestes, she grieves when she learns (incorrectly) of his death, her lamentations contrasting with Clytemnestra’s muted and possibly insincere response. She is an example within the play of true motherly devotion, in juxtaposition with the masculine, merciless Clytemnestra.
Pylades
Orestes’ traveling companion, Pylades is silent for much of the play. When he does speak, however, he urges Orestes to carry out his mission and kill Clytemnestra, despite the hero’s doubts.
Servant of Aegisthus
The servant exists solely to inform Clytemnestra of Aegisthus’ death at the hands of Orestes. He thus fulfills the classic Greek tragic messenger role, in which characters report violent actions to the audience, rather than the audience witnessing the violence onstage.
Porter
A servant who allows Orestes and Pylades to enter the palace of Argos after they’re forced by Aegisthus to wait outside its gates.
Bodyguards of Aegisthus
Attendants whose presence speaks to Aegisthus’ paranoid, violent nature.
Orestes’ attendants
Slaves who travel with Orestes and Pylades.