Electra (the Unmated One) is eaten up with hatred of her mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus for their murder of her father Agamemnon. Married platonically to a good-hearted but poverty-stricken old peasant, she longs for the return of her brother Orestes to help her wreak vengeance. Orestes finally returns and together they carry out their fated work, but find the result to be as tragically meaningless as the lust for vengeance had been poisonous. Strikingly different from Sophocles, who wrote his “Electra” with full sympathy for the divine ordinance of revenge, Euripides squarely blames the God Apollo for putting an evil commandment on the shoulders of the siblings. He also shows the tragic ambiguity of the entire situation, pleading a strong, emotional case for Clytemnestra and showing her vulnerable motherliness at the moment of her death. Deeper, more human psychologically than Sophocles or Aeschylus, Euripides is compared with good reason in the translator’s introduction to modern playwrights such as Browning or Ibsen. ( Expatriate)
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