Orestes’ Proper Revenge

In the play The Libation Bearers Aeschylus wrote of Orestes avenging his father’s unlawful death in a way that would have made the people of today’s modern times cringe.

Justice in those times meant that Orestes had to kill his mother and her adulterous boyfriend as punishment for plotting murder and killing his father, Agememnon. Orestes of course completed the gruesome task but after having done it he himself had to pay for killing them by being haunted by his mother’s furies.

If Orestes had been living in current times he would not have needed to avenge his father’s death himself by murder. On the contrary, he would simply have to go to court or the authorities to testify against the murderers and afterwards the accused would suffer punishment for their wrongdoings. Orestes then wouldn’t have the guilt of murdering his mother resting on him for the remainder of his life. If he had killed in way of revenge he, in turn, would have to be punished.

If you really ponder the situation you may actually see that there are a few small similarities between the justice of today and the justice of ancient Greece. Although, by no means I am saying that we can go around killing people just because we didn’t like what they did- I am simply stating the fact that even in ancient Greece your actions came with consequences.

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