Elizabeth Krueger.CLST 273. Using the scene of Klytaemestra’s death, explain why Orestes hesitates before he kills his mother. A person in this present day and age would have multiple reasons why they would hesitate before they would kill their mother. From the fond memories of childhood shared with their mother to the possibility of being caught and serving a life in prison.
. But for Orestes, he is only hesitating for one reason. The miasma is what helps him pause for a brief second. He knows that this pollution of killing his own mother would be disadvantageous. But at the same time he should avenge his fathers killer, his mother who was unfaithful.
Orestes is actually compelled by multiple forces to kill his mother and her lover Aegisthus. Klytaemestra birthed Orestes and Electra with Agamemnon. She eventually kills her husband and his war-trophy lady, Cassandra. With this murder she has power over Argos through her lover Aegisthus, the brother of Agamemnon. Klyaemestra and Agamemnon didn’t really raise Orestes, their nurse did, “heOrestes was born, I got him from his mother. I nursed him.
” (Aeschylus 750) The nurse had to be his wet nurse and literally raise him as her own. Unlike a typical family where the child and mother have an intimate relationship, Orestes and Klytaemestra did not have that. Her adultery with Aegisthus while Agamemnon was away also angered Orestes. This atypical relationship with his mother actually helped increase his desire and will to kill her.
. Killing Klytaesmestra would typically bring lots of miasma upon Orestes, but Orestes had received information from Apollo that he basically had the right to kill his mother, “When she cries out ‘My son!’ cry in return ‘My father’s son!’ Then murder her in innocence.” (Aeschylus 1030) Apollo gave him permission to kill his own mother because she had killed his father. This reassurance that Orestes will be seen as innocent actually propels him to kill Klytaemestra. Right before Orestes kills her, he asks Pylades, “what do I do? It’s a dreadful act to kill my mother.
” (Aeschylus 1118) Orestes is thinking about his actions and how this could bring even more pollution to the House of Atreus. But Pylades reminds him of what Apollo said, “what he foretold at Delphi? We made an oath. Make all men your enemies but not the gods.” (Aeschylus 1120) He is reminding him that Apollo will see his action as just and won’t be looked at poorly. Actually it’s said in the Delphic prophet that if Orestes doesn’t carry out this act he would meet an absolute terrible fate, “But if you refuse . .
. ‘I won’t describe the punishment’” (Aeschylus 1289).