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The first sound recording of the only extant dramatic trilogy of ancient Greece.

NARRATOR
CLYTEMNESTRA
ORESTES
AGAMEMNON
ATHENA
APOLLO
AEGISTHUS
CASSANDRA/PYTHIA
ELECTRA
HERALD
ARGIVE ELDERS
LIBATION BEARERS
NURSE/FURIES

Stefan Rudnicki
Linda Purl
Bo Foxworth
Ned Schmidtke
Carolyn Seymour
Robertson Dean
Mark Bramhall
Kirsten Potter
Jeanie Hackett
Granville Van Dusen 
Mike Genovese
Rosalyn Landor
Rosalind Ayres

based on the translation by
Ian Johnston

adapted for audio, produced and directed by
Yuri Rasovsky

co-producer
John Baker

music by
John Baker
and
De Organographia

casting
Amy Lieberman CSA

 

selections from Music of the Ancient Greeks courtesy Pandourion Records USA

published by

The Curse on the House of Atreus

The story of the House of Atreus, and particularly Orestes' and Electra's revenge for their father's murder, is one of the most popular and enduring of all Greek legends. This is a summary of the legend as it bears upon the Oresteia.

The wealthy city of Argos was ruled by two feuding brothers, Atreus and Thyestes. Atreus, the senior and more powerful of the two, married and had two sons, Agamemnon and Menelaus. Thyestes had three sons and a daughter. Thyestes had an affair with Atreus' wife, and was banished from Argos by his brother. However, he petitioned to be allowed to return. Atreus, apparently wishing to reconcile, not only agreed, but prepared a huge banquet to celebrate the end of their feud.

At the banquet, however, Atreus served Thyestes the broiled flesh of Thyestes' two elder sons. Thyestes ate the food, and only then was informed of what he had done. Overcome with horror, Thyestes cursed the family of Atreus and fled Argos with his daughter and youngest son, Aegisthus.

At the death of Atreus his sons Agamemnon and Menelaus ruled Argos together. They married twin sisters, Clytemnestra and Helen. The wives were not identical twins. Clytemnestra had a human father; whereas, the beautiful Helen was a daughter of Zeus. Agamemnon and Clytemnestra had three children, Iphigeneia, Orestes, and Electra.

When Menelaus' wife Helen eloped to Troy with Paris, Menalaus and Agamemnon organized and led the Greek forces against the Trojans. The army assembled at Aulis, but the fleet could not sail because of contrary winds sent by the goddess Artemis, who Agamemnon had long ago offended. Agamemnon had to sacrifice his daughter Iphigeneia in order to placate the goddess. Knowing that Clytemnestra would never agree to the sacrifice of her daughter, Agamemnon sent for Iphigeneia on a pretext.

When the truth came out, Clytemnestra vowed revenge. With Agamemnon and Menelaus off in Troy, she took a lover ó Aegisthus, Theystesí surviving son. The queen and her paramour sent her son Orestes into exile, and humiliated Electra, Agamemnon's remaining daughter, by forcing her to marry a humble farmer. That is how matters stood when the Greeks at last defeated Troy after a decade-long siege. It is at this point that Aeschylus begins The Oresteia.

The Trilogy

Agamemnon. Argos learns that the Greeks are victorious over the Trojans. Agamemnon returns with his captive, Cassandra, one of Priamís daughters. Clytemnestra murders Agamemnon and Cassandra with the help of Aegisthus, and establishes tyranical rule over the Argives.

The Libation Bearers. Years later, Agamemnonís exiled son Orestes returns to Argos. Apolloís oracle at Delphi has instructed him to avenge his fatherís murder. After revealing himself to his enslaved sister Electra, Orestes kills Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. Then, pursued by Furies, demons who avenge the muder of blood relations, flees to Delphi.

The Eumenides. The Furies follow Orestes to Delphi, where Apollo orders the youth to Athens. There, on the Hill of Ares, Athena presides over a trial, with Apollo as defense and the Furies as prosecution. The trial's outcome not only ends the curse on Atreus' descendants, but changes the nature of human and divine justice forever.

When The Oresteia was first produced in 458 B.C., Athens was in full flush of the exuberant energy that was driving it to greatness. Starting from well-known stories about the Trojan War and the House of Atreus, as well as legends about the establishment of the Athenian legal courts, Aeschylus shaped his material into three dramas that depict the movement from primitive personal vengeance to civilized justice. In doing so, he created an enduring dramatic representation of the human and supra-human elements that must be held in carefully tuned and sometimes precarious balance to ensure a just civic order.

*  *  *

For full script, click here.
For more on the Trojan War, click here.
For more on the Oresteia, click here.

The sacrifice of Iphegenia at Aulis, cause of Clytemnestra's murderous hatred of her husband.
The palace steps of the Atreidae, scene of much of the action in the first two plays in The Oresteia.
Electra and Orestes reunite at Agamemnon's tomb in the opening scene of The Libation Bearers.
Orestes slays Aegisthus before turning on Clytemnestra.
The prayer of Apollo's Delphic Pythia opens The Eumenides.
Orestes seeks refuge in the Temple of Athena at Athens.
The trial of Orestes:
(from left) Apollo, Athena, Orestes and the Furies.

The Cast

Rosalind Ayres
Chorus of Furies
Mark Bramhall
Aegisthus
Robertson Dean
Apollo
Bo Foxworth
Orestes
Mike Genovese
Chorus of  Elders
Jeanie Hackett
Electra
Rosalyn Landor
Chorus of Libation Bearers
Kirsten Potter
Cassandra
Linda Purl
Clytemnestra
Ned Schmidtke
Agamemnon
Carolyn Seymour
Athena
Granville Van Dusen
Herald

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