Notes on Objects & Places from The Eumenides

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The Eumenides Objects/Places

Argos: A city located on the Peloponnesian Peninsula in southern Greece. The Argive king Tantalus began a pattern of destruction for Argos after he offended the gods by feeding them his son Pelops at a banquet. King Pelops' sons continued this as Atreus cooked Thyestes' children, exiling him brother afterwards. Clytaemnestra murders Agamemnon later after he killed her daughter Iphigenia, thus continuing this cycle of death and jealousy for the royal house of Argos.

Trojan War: A war fought at Troy between the native Trojans and the invading Greeks. Started by Paris, who stole Menelaus' wife Helen, Menelaus asked his brother to help rescue her. Led by Agamemnon, the Greek army fought for ten long years, losing many brave warriors. The Greeks won after deceiving the Trojans into bringing a wooden horse into the city's walls, thinking that it was a peace offering. However, Greek soldiers hidden within later crawled out secretly, opening the city gates for the entire army to invade the city. Troy was burned to the ground, its adult males were slain, and its men and children were enslaved.

Troy: A city located in the eastern Mediterranean, in the country that is known as Turkey today. Ruled by Priam, Troy was besieged for ten long years during the Trojan War. The Greeks wanted to rescue the Greek Helen from the Trojan prince Paris, who had kidnapped her. Troy was finally defeated through deception, and the city was burned to the ground.

Oracle of Apollo: Located at Delphi, many travelers would go to hear the Oracle at Apollo's temple. There, the Pythia would relate prophesies for the future, given to her directly from Apollo himself. The Oracle was the name for the temple that travelers would go to, and also the Oracle is another name for the prophesies that travelers would hear once they arrived there.

Delphi: A city northwest of Athens on the Greek mainland. Also called Pytho because of the legend of Apollo reclaiming the city after slaying the python snake, Delphi was a very old, sacred city. Hordes of people would make a pilgrimage there to visit the Oracle. The Pyhia describes how control of Delphi has passed from many hands, from Mother Earth to Themis to Phoebe to Apollo, and also to Bromius in the winter months. Orestes goes to Delphi for protection against the avenging Furies. From there, Apollo sends him along to Athens.

Temple of Apollo: Site of the Oracle, where people hear prophesies from the Pythia, priestess of Apollo. Orestes goes to the Temple of Apollo seeking protection. The Pythia is frightened after seeing Orestes inside with blood-stained hands while the Furies lay all around him. She insists that Apollo himself must come to deal with this situation.

Hades: The Greek Underworld, where all human spirits go when their bodies die. Ruled by the god Hades, this place is also a court of sorts as well. As each spirit arrives, he is judged by Hades and assigned a home in the afterlife. Wicked souls went down to Tartarus, where they were punished, most mediocre souls went to the Asphodel Fields, which was a middle level where they saw neither suffering nor bliss. The most virtuous souls were allowed to dwell in the Elysium Fields, where they experienced eternal happiness and bliss for their good lives.

Temple of Athena: Temple dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom, located on the Acropolis rock in central Athens. As Apollo has instructed, Orestes goes into the Temple of Athena and hugs the statue of Athena that is within, seeking her help in dispelling the Furies. There, Athena appears and facilitates a public trial decided by twelve Athenian male citizens; she breaks the tie vote, freeing Orestes from punishment. The Temple of Athena shall serve as a courtroom for future court cases as well, as Athena uses this trial as a model for how future accused criminals should be dealt with.

Acropolis: Literally the word means 'Upper city,' the name for the great, rocky hill that towers high above Athens. A very holy place, it is the site of the Pantheon housing shrines to the goddess Athena. The Pantheon was not built until 447 B.C., however, ten years after the play was written. A much smaller shrine existed on the Acropolis, called the 'Temple of Athena Nike,' and it is this temple that is most likely referred to in The Eumenides. The Acropolis was the religious center of Athens, due to its imposing height above the city clustered at its feet.

Athens: A city located southeast of Delphi on the Greek mainland; birthplace of the playwright Aeschylus. Athens is where the long history of bloodshed ends for Orestes' family, as Athena peacefully resolves the dispute between him and the avenging Furies. Athena promises that Athens will become the greatest city for many reasons: two powerful divinities, Athena and the Eumenides, now protect the city, and Orestes vows that Argos will forever be allies with Athens. A court has also been established to provide due process for accused criminals, outlawing the ancient cycle of revenge that the Furies had once supported. The future of Athens holds a promise of enduring prosperity.

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