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Dr J's Audio-Visual Resources for Classics

Courses Taught

INTELLECTUAL HERITAGE (at Temple University)

Course Info:
Sample Syllabus


Course Themes

Delphi- A Focal Point for IH 51 Texts

Writing Guides:
Writing Guidelines

style guide

Writing Analogies

Subject Study Aids:
Aeschylus' Agamemnon Study Guide

Aeschylus' Libation Bearers Study Guide

Aeschylus' Eumenides Passages

Sophocles' Oedipus and the Sphinx Lecture

Dr. J's Illustrated Pericles' Funeral Oration

Dr. J's Illustrated Pericles and America

Dr. J's Illustrated Pericles and Philadelphia

Dr. J's Illustrated Aeschylus' Oresteia

Dr. J's Curse of the House of Atreus Outline

Dr. J's Background Lecture on Greek Philosophy

Dr. J's Apology Study Questions

Dr. J's Illustrated Plato's Apology

Socrates and the Apology Lecture

Dr. J's Plutarch's Pericles

Judaism Study Guide

Sundiata Study Guide

Epic Qualities of the Sundiata Lecture

Othello Study Guide

Machiavelli Study Guide

Galileo and Humanism Lecture



Courses Proposed
(needs some pruning):

Topics in Classical Culture:
The Legend of the House of Atreus: Greek Tragedy in Greece

Religious Foundations of Greek Culture

The Intersection of Myth and History

The Ancient Greek Cultural Nexus- Art, Archaeology, Literature and Topography

From 1996-2001 I taught in the Intellectual Heritage Program at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This page is part of my teaching materials for Intellectual Heritage 51, a course covering literature and ideas from Sappho through Shakespeare...

Dr. J's Aeschylus' Libation Bearers (Choephoroe) Summary and Passages

(this summary needs a little more work, but use what's here for now)

Prologue 1-25

At Agamemnon's grave, Orestes prays to Hermes that he might avenge his father's murder. He leaves a lock of hair and hides when the women approach.

Parados 26-81

Electra and Chorus (women of Argos) mourn Agamemnon's death (libations are ritual sacrifices). They recount the murder of Agamemnon, saying that "that godless woman sends me here" (49, referring to Clytemnestra). Electra speaks of her pain, and of being all alone now.

82-311 The Chorus reminds her that Orestes may still come to avenge his father's death (117). Electra prays to Hermes to bring Orestes home (143 ff). Recognition scene between Electra and Orestes. Orestes explains that Apollo has charged him to avenge the murder of his father.

237-465 Orestes, Electra and Chorus consider their next step.

240-249 Electra outlines the whole family dynamic.

250-268 Orestes prays to Zeus for a successful conclusion

268-273 The Chorus encourages them, but urges caution

273-311 Orestes tells of Apollo's command: if he does not avenge his father's death he will be pursued by the Furies.

312-321 Kommos: Chorus says that all is in motion now - Justice will reign, reiterating the theme of vengeance breeding vengeance.

322-408 Orestes bemoans the fact that Agamemnon did not die a glorious death in battle; the Chorus urges him on to go through with the retribution. They become frighteningly passionate in their need to convince Orestes that he has no choice.

418-465 Orestes learns that not only did Clytemnestra deny Agamemnon proper funeral rites, but that they mutilated his body after death. Electra adds that she was made an outcast in her own house. These points convince Orestes of the need for action.

466-491 Brother and sister address Agamemnon and promise vengeance.

492-571 The Chorus Leader tells of Clytemnestra's fearful snake dream, which caused her to honor Agamemnon's grave. But it is too late - the serpent she dreamt of has arrived in the person of Orestes. Orestes announces his plan to seek refuge at the palace in the guise of a stranger.

572-633 The Chorus relates stories of other faithless women and proclaims that Orestes, by killing Clytemnestra, will end the Curse of the House of Atreus (wrong).

scene change: to the palace

633-773 A disguised Orestes arrives at the palace and tells Clytemnestra that Orestes is dead. Clytemnestra appears upset but offers hospitality. Orestes has the Nurse fetch Aegisthus.

774-823 The Chorus again urges Orestes on: "Wipe out death with death."

824-878 Orestes meets and kills Aegisthus

879-917 Orestes and Clytemnestra talk - he righteously kills her

918-963 The Chorus proclaims victory

964-1063 Orestes formally announces that he has done the will of Apollo. The Chorus praises him, but he flees because he is pursued by the Furies.

1064-1077 The Chorus wonders when this cycle of death and destruction

 Significant Passages from Aeschylus' Libation Bearers

I go like a slave,/and Orestes driven from his estates while they,/they roll in the fruits of all your labors/magnificent and sleek. O bring Orestes home,/with a happy twist of fate, my father. Hear me,/make me more self-possessed than mother,/make this hand more pure. Electra (LB. 140-146)

You light to my eyes, four loves in one!/I have to call you father, it is fate;/and I turn to you the love I gave my mother -/I despise her, she deserves it, yes,/and the love I gave my sister, sacrificed/on the cruel sword, I turn to you./You were my faith, my brother -/you alone restore my self-respect. Electra (LB. 240-247)

It is the law: when the blood of slaughter/wets the ground it wants more blood./Slaughter cries for the Fury/of those long dead to bring destruction/on destruction churning in its wake! Chorus (LB. 394-398)

Shamed? Butchered I tell you - hands lopped,/strung to shackle his necks and arms!/So she worked,/she buried him, made your life a hell./Your father mutilated - do you hear? Chorus (LB. 428-431)

She dreamed she bore a snake, said so herself and.../she swaddled it like a baby, laid it to rest.../She gave it her breast to suck - she was dreaming.../Blood curdled the milk with each sharp tug.../and she woke with a scream, appalled... Chorus (LB. 514...522)

Strangers, please,/tell me what you would like and it is yours./We've all you might expect in a house like ours./We have warm baths and beds to charm away your pains/and the eyes of Justice look on all we do. Clytemnestra (LB. 649-656)

But you, when your turn in the action comes, be strong./When she cries 'Son!' cry out 'My father's son!'/Go through with the murder - innocent at last. Chorus (LB. 815-817)

Watch out - the hounds of a mother's curse will hunt you down. Clytemnestra (LB. 911)

Ai - you are the snake I bore - I gave you life! Clytemnestra (LB. 914)

Now look on me, armed with the branch and wreath,/a suppliant bound for the Navelstone of Earth,/Apollo's sacred heights/where they say the fires of heaven can never die. Orestes (LB. 1032-1035)

copyright 2001 Janice Siegel, All Rights Reserved
send comments to: Janice Siegel (jfsiege@ilstu.edu)

date this page was edited last: 10/25/2005
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