The Libation Bearers

The Chorus Character Analysis

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 the Chorus is made up of a group of slave women who accompany Electra to Agamemnon’s tomb with gifts and offerings. While choruses sometimes warn characters against their intended actions (as is the case in Oedipus Rex, another Greek tragedy), the Chorus seems convinced that Electra and Orestes are in the right in their vengeful crusade against Clytemnestra and Aegisthus.

The Chorus Quotes in The Libation Bearers

The The Libation Bearers quotes below are all either spoken by The Chorus or refer to The Chorus. 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 Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Libation Bearers published in 1966.
Lines 1-585 Quotes

The proud dead stir under the earth,

They rage against the ones who took their lives…

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Electra, Agamemnon
Related Symbols: Agamemnon’s Burial Mound and Shroud
Page Number: 44-45
Explanation and Analysis:

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What to say when I pour the cup of sorrow?
What kindness, what prayer can touch my father?
Shall I say I bring him love for love, a woman’s
love for her husband? My mother, love from her?
I’ve no taste for that, no words to say
as I run the honeyed oil on father’s tomb.

Related Characters: Electra (speaker), The Chorus, Clytemnestra, Agamemnon
Related Symbols: Agamemnon’s Burial Mound and Shroud
Page Number: 86-91
Explanation and Analysis:

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For our enemies I say,
raise up your avenger, into the light, my father—
kill the killers in return, with justice!
So in the midst of prayers for good I place
this curse for them.

Related Characters: Electra (speaker), Orestes, The Chorus, Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, Agamemnon
Related Symbols: Agamemnon’s Burial Mound and Shroud
Page Number: 147-151
Explanation and Analysis:

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You light to my eyes, four loves in one!
I have to call you father, it is fate;
and I turn to you the love I gave my mother—
I despise her, she deserves it, yes,
and the love I gave my sister, sacrificed
on the cruel sword, I turn to you.

Related Characters: Electra (speaker), The Chorus (speaker), Orestes, Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, Iphigenia
Page Number: 240-245
Explanation and Analysis:

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Justice turns the wheel.
‘Word for word, curse for curse
be born now,’ Justice thunders,
hungry for retribution.
‘stroke for bloody stroke be paid.
The one who acts must suffer.’

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker)
Page Number: 315-320
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 586-652 Quotes

Oh but a man’s high daring spirit,
who can account for that? Or woman’s
desperate passion daring past all bounds?
She couples with every form of ruin known to mortals.
Woman, frenzied, driven wild with lust,
twists the dark, warm harness
of wedded love—tortures man and beast!

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Clytemnestra
Page Number: 579-585
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 719-1065 Quotes

The butcher comes. Wipe out death with death.

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Orestes, Aegisthus
Page Number: 823
Explanation and Analysis:

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Aye, trouble is now,
and trouble still to come.

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker)
Page Number: 1016-1017
Explanation and Analysis:

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Where will it end?
Where will it sink to sleep and rest,
this murderous hate,
This Fury?

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Orestes, The Furies
Page Number: 1075-1077
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Chorus Character Timeline in The Libation Bearers

The timeline below shows where the character The Chorus appears in The Libation Bearers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-585
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
As Orestes prays, Electra enters with the Chorus, a group of slave women who attend her. They are dressed in mourning, and bring... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The Chorus describes their rituals of mourning—scratching their cheeks with their own fingernails, beating their breasts, and... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Electra praises the Chorus, thanking them for accompanying her to Agamemnon’s grave. She begins to lament her father’s death,... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The leader of the Chorus tells Electra that she should say a prayer for “those who love you…[and] hate Aegisthus.”... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Electra then calls upon the Chorus to add their prayers to hers. The group of women laments the death of Agamemnon,... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...ground. She notes that the hair is identical to her own, and she and the Chorus wonder whether it signifies the presence of Orestes. Electra believes that Orestes sent the lock... (full context)
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
As the Chorus rejoices, Orestes warns his sister not to give herself to joy, since his arrival has... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The Chorus, too, prays to Zeus, comparing the dead Agamemnon to an eagle killed by a treacherous... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The Chorus leader warns Orestes and Electra to be wary of Aegisthus’ and Clytemnestra’s spies. Orestes responds... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Orestes, Electra, and the Chorus gather to pray at the grave. The Chorus invokes the Fates and Zeus, praying that... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The Chorus leaves Electra and Orestes at the grave. Orestes prays for the power “to rule our... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...tomb, considering her impiety and her hatred of her dead husband. The leader of the Chorus explains that Clytemnestra was shaken by a bad dream in which she gave birth to... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...this dream has in fact predicted Clytemnestra’s death at his hands. The leader of the Chorus encourages him to share his plan with them. He replies that it is simple: Electra... (full context)
Lines 586-652
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Alone onstage, the Chorus states that of all the world’s marvels, the most mysterious and unaccountable are “a man’s... (full context)
Lines 719-1065
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
The Chorus reassembles and wonders when they will be able to help Orestes. They pray to Mother... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...bring his bodyguards with him when he talks to Orestes, but the leader of the Chorus orders her to lie, and to tell Aegisthus to come alone. Confused, Cilissa asks why... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Alone onstage again, the Chorus prays to Zeus, begging him to grant Orestes good fortune, and asserting that they are... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...or whether it’s merely “woman’s panic.” For confirmation, he turns to the leader of the Chorus, who urges him to get the news directly from Orestes himself. Aegisthus wonders whether the... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
With Aegisthus gone, the Chorus prays to Zeus once more, begging the god for Orestes’ success. They compare him to... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...Clytemnestra, but failing at that, he calls out her name until she emerges. As the Chorus ominously warns that Clytemnestra’s doom is next, the queen orders the servant to bring her... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Alone, the Chorus wonders at this mixture of mourning with justice and vengeance. They sing of Orestes’ triumph,... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The Chorus ominously states that although Clytemnestra is dead, Orestes’ suffering has only just begun. (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...hails the robe as a remnant of his father, conflating his “victory” with “guilt.” The Chorus, meanwhile, adds that Orestes’ trouble is not yet over. (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...that he must leave as an exile because of the murder that he’s committed. The Chorus, meanwhile, tries to reassure him that he’s done the right thing, asserting that he’s freed... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
As the Chorus speaks, Orestes suddenly screams in terror. He sees what the audience and Chorus do not:... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The leader of the Chorus bids farewell to Orestes, praying that Apollo will guide and protect him. The Chorus as... (full context)