Orest und Orestie bei Euripides. Zur Chronologie der Elektra-Dramen


Aegisthus’ murder of Agamemnon and Orestes’ revenge on him, as the story is told in the Odyssey, is replaced by Clytemnestra’s slaying of her husband in Aeschylus’ Oresteia and by the revenge on her by her son. In Sophocles’ Electra the plot is focused on Aegisthus again, because he alone killed Agamemnon outrageously at the altar of Agamemnon’s house. This altar motif had not been part of the Orestes-myth before. Perhaps Sophocles borrowed it from Euripides’ Cresphontes, but he made Orestes take revenge even at the same altar where Aegisthus killed his father. Then Euripides in his Electra resurrected that motif of sacrilege exposing Orestes as the evil-doer when Aegisthus is slaughtered by him from behind at the altar of his own palace. The altar motif combined with the figures of the old men and the late recognition-scenes in both plays seems to be a crucial argument for the priority of the Sophoclean Electra. — Both Euripides’ Electra and not least his Orestes show us an unheroic world through the eyes of the younger poet.