ENTANGLED IN GUILT
Historically, this myth as told in the play Orestes by Euripides is often interpreted as propaganda for the transition to a patriarchal social order. Naturally, there are other interpretations that dispute this view. More than anything, I wanted to search for an explanation of the events that would overarch the sequences of an act and its revenge, one that would offer insight into factors that were always determined by external forces – that is to say, they were invented by gods – factors propelling the course of events.
The background to Orestes’s actions is a political concept of which he is unaware. The tradition says that Orestes allows himself to be overwhelmed by this concept and sees the orders from the god Apollo – who represents the concept – as justification for his murders; his affinity with these orders is even so great that to his mind, they come from within him. Orestes is not a very likeable figure; he is utterly spineless. But this type of character – chameleonic, sometimes insecure – will often have a vision, perhaps clouded, poorly defined, unsteady, but all the same a vision that saps the strength of certain influences which might otherwise easily turn him into a puppet, a tool in the hands of third parties.
Orestes alternates between allowing himself to be led by what is ordained by outside forces, accompanied by the prospect of rewards, and his vision, which makes him think that it must be possible to escape to a new light, a new life. But he makes one mistake: he thinks he can leave the guilt behind him – and he will not discover until much later that he must live with the guilt in order to conquer it. Orestes will realise this when he manages to look at the girl Hermione and not kill her, as his sister demands. When this happens, he is free to go and leave behind him the influence of conventions.