Aeschylus Essay, Research Paper
Interpretations of Aeschylus
In this paper I will be placing my emphasis on tearing apart the story of Oresteia, Greek Tragedy, articles written on the story, and then give me own interpretation.
Aeschylus lived approximately from 525- 456 B.C. in the city of Eleusis. The Oresteia was written two years before his death. He wrote the tragedies: Eumenides, Prometheus Bound, The Oresteia, The Persians, Seven against Thebes, among others.
In the interpretation given by David Cohen, he describes justice in the Oresteia.
In the first few paragraphs, Cohen describes the main point of the book, which is the justice that Zeus enforces. Aeschylus believes strongly that Zeus?s laws are not intentionally supposed to harm the innocent. Most of the laws established in many countries are not setup to incriminate the innocent but to bring justice to the innocent by giving the guilty an adequate punishment.
Cohen then explains that in the book Agamemnon , ?Zeus is just and does not punish the innocent, and if all that happens in the play is part of the working out of his divine plan. How does one explain the sacrifice of many people of Troy.? (Cohen 46) Even in the Bible, God , (which is comparable to Zeus in mythology) , sacrificed his own creations, to prove a point to the people of the earth. Zeus considers his plan a progressive movement, so sacrifices of humans were necessary. The sacrificing of human beings is unjust because everyone?s life should be and are valued the same.
Later on in the story, the theory of blood for blood has been pushed aside as inadequate. The people now believe that Justice is achieved through the process of law. So now the people believe that Aeschylus is pious and Zeus is just. Cohen describes that ? Aeschylus does not dismiss the question of innocent suffering with a Greek equivalent of the ? Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth??(Job 38:4), which challenged Job from the whirlwind.? (Cohen 47)
To rebound from the last paragraph, Cohen states that, ? we must give Aeschylus more credit than that, and, having rejected both crude utilitarianism and blind faith as his solution to the problem of evil, it is perhaps appropriate now to inquire more closely as to the nature of this ?Justice? of Zeus and as to whether or not Aeschylus regards it as the proper foundation of a theodicy.?(Cohen 47) Here he is trying to explain that, is Aeschylus?s own religious and social beliefs getting in the way of the reason Zeus is not just. Like most cultures of the current century, most people?s decision on the way God is portrayed depends on their religious and social beliefs.
Later in the article, it is believed that the first lawsuit is established with the theft of Helen. The lawsuit is to be decided by Zeus. In America and most democratic countries the only way you can hold a dispute in court is by having a lawsuit. The definition of lawsuit in Merriam Webster dictionary is: a suit in law: a case before a court. So before there were lawsuits there were informal meetings to decide the winner of a battle. Cohen describes this point well when he states, ? This is Zeus? law, the human order mirrors the divine, as expressed in the trope of the Trojan war as a law-suit with Zeus and the Atreidae as the co prosecutors.? (Cohen 49)
In order to win most law suits back in that day you would have to proclaim Zeus as the victor in everything understands justice. Some believe if you believe that Christ is in control when you are having troubles that there is no way you can lose.
The problems with these laws is that the divine were the only people who could impose justice. The peasants of the day could not, so the only way they could get there point across, is if they knew someone who was higher up in the justice system. Zeus was considered dishonest and unjust with his new Olympian order where the peasants were unable to speak there point, and they were the majority of the population at the time.
This law that was established by Zeus was called the progressive theory or movement. The critics of this day and age have seen problems in this theory, seen in the portrayal of the trial of Apollo in Aeschylus. Apollo knew that Zeus made the final decision, but he also knew that the decision is also altered by the thoughts of Athena. After Apollo sends his last plea to Zeus, then tries to bribe the jury knowing full well that Athena has the real decision in this case. Athena acquits Apollo and the worst crime of the time was let go. She believed that if Apollo was guilty then Orestes was also guilty.
This article has shown me that justice of Greek History is the same as the justice and laws that are used today. We have jury?s, lawsuits, lawyers, and councils, and the Greek law system had the same setup. Even though some of the punishments were considered just back in B.C. , they have been considered inhumane and vial by modern society.