A Goddess For Men
Who needs a mother, anyway?
Orestes was the son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. While Agamemnon was away in the Trojan War, Clytemnestra took up with Agamemnon's cousin Aegisthus. When Agamemnon returned, he brought with him his new concubine, the prophetess Cassandra. Clytemnestra or Aegisthus killed Agamemnon. Orestes got revenge for his father. Homer calls Orestes the killer of Aegisthus, but not necessarily a matricide. That's left to the tragedians.
In Aeschylus' Eumenides ('Furies') Orestes' father, Agamemnon, is killed on his return from the Trojan War through the connivance, if not the actual hand, of Clytemnestra. Apollo uses the Delphic Oracle to tell Orestes to exact revenge by killing his mother. Unfortunately, killing a blood relative is frowned on by the Furies, so they do their job which is to continually harass Orestes. Taking responsibility for the matricide, Apollo arranges to have Athena judge the case. In the end of the trial, when the votes are evenly split, Athena casts the deciding ballot in favor of Orestes because -- based on her own experience -- the mother's role is less important than the father's.
From Aeschylus' [URL = http://classics.mit.edu/Aeschylus/eumendides.html] Eumenides
Mine is the right to add the final vote,
And I award it to Orestes' cause.
For me no mother bore within her womb,
And, save for wedlock evermore eschewed,
I vouch myself the champion of the man,
Not of the woman, yea, with all my soul,-
In heart, as birth, a father's child alone.
Thus will I not too heinously regard
A woman's death who did her husband slay,
The guardian of her home; and if the votes
Equal do fall, Orestes shall prevail.
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A Goddess For Men - Athena Favors the Greek Heroes - Orestes
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