The Oresty (Ὀρέστεια) of the poet Aeschylus is the only surviving trilogy of Greek tragedies . It was born in 458 BC. Chr. First performed and is considered one of the most important works of contemporary theater. At the first performance at the Dionysia in Athens , it won the award.
The three pieces deal with the end of a long series of violence and vengeance in the house of Atreus . The transition from the principle of individual vengeance to the orderly jurisdiction through a court that represents the citizenship is described.
The final satyr game Proteus is lost.
Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia . For this his wife Klytaimestra kills him after his return from the Trojan War . She and her lover Aigisthus are in turn killed by their son Orestes . But the latter - and this is new - is not punished with death for it; rather, the spirits of revenge ( Erinyes ) become accusers in court proceedings. In the event of a tie, the goddess Athena pronounces the verdict: acquittal. The chain of violence and counter-violence is broken.
At the beginning a guard stands at night on the roof of the royal palace of the Atrids and reports how he has been looking for a beacon for years to announce the conquest of Troy by the Greeks. This signal appears at the end of his monologue.
When Agamemnon returns, he leads the seer Kassandra with him as a slave and concubine , which angered Clytaimestra, who already resented the sacrifice of Iphigenies, even more. Klytaimestra tries to persuade Agamemnon to enter the house on a purple carpet. The problem is that Agamemnon would be guilty of the hubris he is resisting. This agon between Klytaimestra and Agamemnon is a central part of the piece. Finally, for reasons that are still being discussed in research, Klytaimestra convinces Agamemnon to come with him to the Oikos , where she murdered him in the bathroom with three blows with a Labrys (Greek = double ax). Agamemnon is killed here in much the same way as an animal killed for a sacrifice with three blows, the final blow being accompanied by a prayer to a god.
Kassandra discusses with the choir whether she should enter the palace or not, as she knows that she will then also be murdered. Kassandra is the daughter of the Trojan king Priam and Hecabe . Apollon gave her the art of prophecy along with the curse that no one who hears her prophecies will believe her. In her speech, Kassandra evokes many gruesome images of the history of the house of Atreus and finally decides to enter the house, knowing that she cannot escape her fate. The choir, in this tragedy a group of old men from Argos, hears the death screams of Agamemnon and very excitedly debates how to proceed. Then Clytaimestra shows the ghastly-looking dead bodies of Agamemnon and Kassandra on a pedestal and tries to explain their motives.
Aigisthos later appears and gives an arrogant speech to the choir, which almost leads to a fight between the choir on the one hand and Aigisthos and his henchmen on the other. Klytaimestra ends the argument and says that enough blood has already flowed.
The game concludes with a performance by the choir, reminding the usurper of the throne of Orestes , the son of Agamemnon, who will surely come back to seek revenge.
Choephoren is the second part of the Orestie trilogy. In some translations it also bears the titles Die Totenspende , Die Grabesspenderinnen or Die Weihgusträgerinnen . It is about the reunion of Electra and Orestes , the children of Agamemnon, and their revenge. As was common at the time, the piece is named after the choir, which is formed here by women consecration bearers , slaves of the Argive royal family who, provided with consecration donations, accompany Elektra to her father's grave.
In the palace of Argos, Clytaimestra shares the throne and bed with Aigisthus. She wakes up from a nightmare in which she gave birth to a dragon that sucked blood instead of milk on her chest. Worried that this was a sign of the anger of the gods, she sends her daughter, the princess Elektra, to pour libations (libations) on Agamemnon's grave. Elektra is in fact only her mother's slave. The Choephoren (namesake of the title) should support Elektra with the offering.
At her father's grave, Elektra meets her missing brother Orestes. He reveals himself to her and reports that Apollo had commissioned him to avenge the murder of his father. Together they plan matricide, while the choir warns:
"Is it bylaws that the current of murderous blood,
poured into the earth, calls for
blood again? Murder calls on the Erinys [goddess of
vengeance ], who leads to blood guilt for the murdered man.
Again and again, new blood guilt is brought about. "
Orestes hesitates before the murder of his own mother, but is convinced by Apollo and his friend Pylades, the son of the king of Phocis. Orestes and Pylades pretend to be ordinary travelers from Phocis and ask for hospitality in the palace. They explain to the queen that Orestes is dead. Delighted at the news, Clytaimestra sends a messenger to summon Aigisthus.
Orestes first kills the usurper and then his mother. The death screams of Aigisthus do not warn Clytaimestra in time. She desperately tries to appeal to her son's feelings, but Pylades reminds his friend of Apollo's mission.
"Klytaimestra: Beware of your mother's angry dogs (the Erinyes)!
Orestes: And those of the father, as they avoid, do I let it be?
For blood. Murder calls on the Erinys [goddess of vengeance],
Orestes: Yes, true as a seer, fear spoke to you from dreams.
Klytaimestra: Woe to me, I gave birth to the dragon, raised it!
Orestes: Yes, as a seer, fear spoke to you from dreams.
You slew whom you shouldn't; Now tolerate the same! "
As soon as Orestes leaves the palace, the merciless Erinyes appear - only visible to him with their horrible appearance - to drive him mad.
Apollo tells Orestes that he will never be friend and gracious to his enemies. Because he supported Orestes in avenging his father: "For I commanded that your mother kill you."
The inside of the temple becomes visible: one sees the sleeping Erinyes (goddesses of revenge), and the shadow of Klytaimestra rises. Clytaimestra takes a stand and demands vengeance, because she was punished for the murder of Agamemnon, but Orestes for the matricide was not.
The Erinyes accuse Apollo of great guilt: "Bloody guilt, guilty blood, he took the most wickedly protective of them!" And defend Klytaimestra with the argument that, unlike Orestes, she did not kill a blood relative. But Apollo defends Orestes by pointing out that a mother is not the father of a child, because one can be a father without a mother, as Athena's example teaches. The goddesses desperately want to capture Orestes and take revenge. Apollo throws them out of his temple, but the argument about right and wrong, blood revenge and honor continues.
Orestes asks for gracious accommodation with Pallas Athene . The Erinyes find his trail and come to the Temple of Athena. Orestes asks the goddess to pay off the debt. Athena orders both sides to introduce themselves and explain their intention. The Erinyen leader states her intentions. Orestes then introduces himself to Athena and tells his life story up to matricide. Athena thinks it is too difficult for a person to judge guilt or innocence here.
Some kind of process begins. Then Athene (now on Orestes's page) is the last to go to the urn to cast her vote and put a stone in it for Orestes. Orestes is free because the same number of votes condemn and acquit him.
The Erinyen are enraged and begin to moan and protest. Athena tries to reassure the leader and promises her gifts, sanctuary and veneration from the citizens if they do not pour out heavy hatred over the country. The Erinyen are now taking a different path and transforming themselves into the Eumenids (“well-disposed people”): “Never greed for revenge, lust for murderous guilt, bloody disrupt the city! Reward joy, together. To love the same thing with everyone, to hate everyone equally, that heals many grief of mortals. ”So they put aside their grief and hatred and honor Athena.
Editing and reception
Karl Gustav Vollmoeller translated the Oresty into German between 1904 and 1905 and, according to critics of the time, did an important job with his stage version developed for the Deutsches Theater Berlin (Karl Vollmoeller - Die Orestie des Aischylos, S. Fischer, Berlin 1911). Vollmoeller's treatment is of great importance for the development of German and European theater. Although it was finished in 1905, it was not staged by Max Reinhardt until 1911 . Before that, Reinhardt was not ready to follow Vollmoeller's ideas of a large-scale production based on the ancient models. Vollmoeller himself describes it like this:
“In long nightly sessions in Cafe Victoria at the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Unter den Linden, I managed to convince Reinhardt that a Greek tragedy should not be played on the normal stage, but in a large arena, preferably in the circus, as the last Follower of the ancient Greek theater. I was a trained archaeologist. This idea, too, aroused unpleasant sensation and violent opposition from all experts. Max Reinhardt listened carefully and found everything to be in order again. He was the best of all listeners. After four years the idea had prevailed and brought Reinhardt his greatest and loudest successes. "
Vollmoellers Orestie almost had its premiere in 1908. At that time Vollmoeller was able to win over Edward Gordon Craig , the well-known theater reformer, to take over the staging of his Oresty. But Craig and Reinhardt fell out over the concept, so that another three years passed before the premiere took place on August 31, 1911 in the Musikfesthalle in Munich under Reinhardt . The critic Siegfried Jacobsohn said:
“Vollmoeller has done a master throw. Who would have expected this scarcity, this firmness, this manly toughness from him! How far is Wilamowitz's translation, which was the best so far, exceeded in every respect! […] I compared both works word for word and found that in the choirs there are on average forty-five verses by Wilamowitz and twenty-one by Vollmoeller. This ability to concentrate, which is already an eminent advantage, has produced verses of tremendous power in the passionately moving dialogue [...] A single example to which any number could be added. Wilamowitz: You don't have to talk about my duty. Under my hands he sank, he died - My hands will bury him. Vollmoeller: I liked it. I killed him. I'll bury him. What is it to you! Vollmoeller's condensing and exhilarating arrangement of the 'Orestie' is, according to Hofmannsthal's precious, puffy and dispersing transmission of 'King Oedipus', which least of all fit into the circus, a real boon, and one of the reasons why this circus evening is by no means given with the same determination can refuse like the first. Unfortunately, Reinhardt did not solve the task of matching those two elements of poetry, the lyrical and the dramatic, equally well. His treatment of the choirs is impossible. Impossible. Simply because it forces him to delete three quarters of the text [...] Vollmoeller was of little use to the director Reinhardt for the lyrical element of the 'Orestie' because the dramaturge Reinhardt had shortened this element so pitifully from the start. For the dramatic element, for which Vollmoeller's usefulness turned out to be extraordinarily great, every director is now again dependent on his actors [...] "
In addition, Jacobsohn commented on Vollmoeller's translation and stage editing:
“Vollmoeller has done a master throw. Who would have expected this scarcity, this firmness, this manly toughness from him! How far is Wilamowitz's translation, which was the best so far, exceeded in every respect! […] I compared both works word for word and found that in the choirs there are on average forty-five verses by Wilamowitz and twenty-one by Vollmoeller. This ability to concentrate, which is already an eminent advantage, has produced verses of tremendous power in the passionately moving dialogue [...] A single example to which any number could be added. Wilamowitz: You don't have to talk about my duty. Under my hands he sank, he died - My hands will bury him. Vollmoeller: I liked it. I killed him. I'll bury him. What is it to you! Vollmoeller's condensing and exhilarating arrangement of the 'Orestie' is, according to Hofmannsthal's precious, puffy and dispersing transmission of 'King Oedipus', which least of all fit into the circus, a real boon, and one of the reasons why this circus evening is by no means given with the same determination can refuse like the first. Unfortunately, Reinhardt did not solve the task of matching those two elements of poetry, the lyrical and the dramatic, equally well. His treatment of the choirs is impossible. Impossible. Simply because it forces him to delete three quarters of the text […] Vollmoeller was of little use to the director Reinhardt for the lyrical element of the 'Orestie' because the dramaturge Reinhardt had shortened this element so pitifully from the start. For the dramatic element, for which Vollmoeller's usefulness turned out to be extraordinarily great, every director is now again dependent on his actors [...] "
The immense success of Vollmoeller's Orestie finally convinced Max Reinhardt of the correctness of Vollmoeller's ideas with regard to the necessary staging. This made Reinhardt look for a suitable venue in Berlin. It was the Schumann Circus that Reinhardt had the architect Hans Poelzig convert into a large theater . In gratitude for Vollmoeller's suggestions, Reinhardt opened the magnificent building with its "Orestie". It premiered on November 28, 1919. Vollmoeller's version was last staged in Bern in 1942 during the Second World War . In addition it said u. a .: "The translation into German by Vollmoeller praises the literary critic Trog as 'an achievement of linguistically scarce power and a lively flow that wants to serve the poet, not the philologist'." In Germany, Vollmoeller's adaptation of the Oresty , which Peter Stein and Tankred Dorst inspired not to return to the stage after 1945. In 1919 Walter Mehring adapted the material for a puppet show in cabaret, also at Reinhardt's suggestion, a Dada parody of Aeschylus.
Walter Jens translated and edited the trilogy for a radio play produced jointly by SWF / BR / RB / ORF in 1954 under the direction of Gert Westphals . His aim was to let the tragedy take effect in all of its immediacy. Like many radio plays of that time, it has the character of a chamber play and does not require any special sound effects.
Communication technology in the Orestie: fire mail
Verses 280-311 in the Agamemnon describe the notification of victory in the Trojan War and of the capture of Troy via a relay of beacons hundreds of miles away to Argos - "From fire to fire the flaming mail flew here" - and lists of Ida , Limnos , Athos etc. the mountain stations involved with the fire alarm posts.
Critical calculations consider a burning fire log of at least 10 m, more likely 24 m high, to be necessary to bridge a distance of 180 km, whereby the guards would have had to persevere for years at their summit heights, always with a focused view of a possible point of light at the neighboring post, and consider the "fire mail" as an instrument with a literary function. Their technical practicability is improbable for the specific case, the mentioning in such shortness is however regarded as evidence that the systematic use of fire signal signals in Aeschylus' time corresponded to the state of the art . (See also chalk fire and din fire .)
- The Oresty of Aeschylus. Acc .: Karl Vollmoeller . S. Fischer, Berlin 1911.
- Oresty Ü .: Oskar Werner Greek and German. Ernst Heimeran Verlag, Munich 1948, (online) .
- Oresty in: Aeschylus. Works in one volume. Edited by Jürgen Werner and Walter Hofmann, Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin / Weimar 1968. O .: Johann Gustav Droysen , revised by Wiktor Steffen
- Peter Stein created a prose translation for the Berlin Schaubühne . The Oresty of Aeschylus. Acc .: Peter Stein. CH Beck, ISBN 3-406-42721-9 .
- Orestie ( Agamemnon ; Die Spenderinnen am Grabe ; Die Wohlwollenden ), trans .: Dietrich Ebener , published as a stage manuscript by Drei Masken Verlag Munich
- The Oresty . Post-poetry and scenic adaptation by Walter Jens . Theater-Verlag Desch, Berlin.
- Otto Schönberger offers a German prose translation of the Agamemnon on his website .
- Elektra (Sophocles) , an adaptation of part of the material, a generation later
- Aeschylus: The Oresty , translation and notes by Kurt Steinmann, afterword by Anton Bierl, Reclam, Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-15-011052-2 .
- Anton Bierl: The Oresty of Aeschylus on the modern stage. Theoretical conceptions and their scenic realization (= drama , supplement No. 5), M & P Verlag für Wissenschaft und Forschung, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-476-45170-4 .
- Manfred Brauneck: The theater of antiquity. Hellas. In: ders .: The world as a stage. History of European Theater. First volume, JB Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar, 1993, ISBN 3-476-00917-3 , p. 94ff.
- Claudia Gründig: Elektra through the centuries. An ancient myth in modern dramas. Martin Meidenbauer, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-89975-482-4 ( Hugo von Hofmannsthal : Elektra , Eugene O'Neill : Mourning becomes Electra , TS Eliot : The Family Reunion , Jean-Paul Sartre : Les mouches , Gerhart Hauptmann : Elektra ; Text partly in German and partly in English).
- Michael Jaeger: The drama of the revolution. Aeschylus' “Oresty” and the modern image of history. In: Erika Fischer-Lichte, Matthias Dreyer (Hrsg.): Ancient tragedy today. Lectures and materials on the antiques project of the German Theater. Deutsches Theater Berlin in cooperation with the Collaborative Research Center 644 “Transformations of Antiquity”. Henschel, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-89487-579-4 , pp. 65-81.
- Lutz Käppel : The construction of the plot in the Oresty of Aeschylus. (= Zetemata . Volume 99). CH Beck, Munich 1998.
- Christian Meier: The Political Art of Greek Tragedy. CH Beck, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-406-33392-3 , p. 117 ff.
- George Thomsen: Aeschylus and Athens. Henschel, Berlin 1979, ISBN 3-920303-70-9 (original title: Aeschylos and Athens. Lawrence & Wishart, London 1941).
- Aeschylus : Agamemnon in the Gutenberg-DE project
- Aeschylus : The grave donors in the Gutenberg-DE project
- Aeschylus : The Eumenids in the Gutenberg-DE project
- Aeschylus - "Oresty". s. The legend of Aeschylus' death . In: Classics of World Literature . Bayerischer Rundfunk - Online , October 16, 2017, accessed March 30, 2020 .
- Claudia Gründig: Elektra through the centuries. 2004, p. 12. Mehring's text and music s. sound and smoke
- based on the distance information from Wolfgang Riepl: The ancient intelligence with special consideration for the Romans . - Reprographic reprint of the Leipzig 1913 edition. Hildesheim / New York 1972, p. 51. - and the summit heights by Volker Aschoff : History of communications engineering. Volume 1: Contributions to the history of communications technology from its beginnings to the end of the 18th century. 2., revised. and corr. Edition. Berlin / Heidelberg / New York / London / Paris / Tokyo / Hong Kong 1989, p. 21.
- Aeschylus : Agamemnon. Oresteia I . Verse 280 ff. Translated by Landrath. In: Rolf Oberliesen : Information, data and signals - history of technical information processing. Reinbek bei Hamburg 1987, p. 24. See also German translation at www.gottwein.de .
- Volker Aschoff: History of communications engineering. Volume 1: Contributions to the history of communications technology from its beginnings to the end of the 18th century. 2., revised. and corr. Edition. Berlin / Heidelberg / New York / London / Paris / Tokyo / Hong Kong 1989, p. 21 f.
- Rolf Oberliesen: Information, data and signals - history techn. Information processing. Reinbek near Hamburg 1987, p. 25.