During Greek Rule hundreds of years ago women were put to a standard and expected to maintain it through everything that they do. When any woman did anything out of the norm then they were most likely ridiculed for what they had done.
In his play, Oresteia, Aeschylus highlights the implications of gender roles in Greek society with the foiling of Clytemnestra by Electra to illustrate the Greek ideals and views of woman in contrast to their men, the Juxtaposition of Orestes and Clytemnestra as equal in their crime yet differing in Justification and reaction by the horus, and significance of male progression in Justice as carried out through the victory of Apollo over the Euminides despite Justice being carried out by a female goddess, Athena.
In every society there are always the people that are classified as being “abnormal” or opposite of the norm and this is the character Clytemnestra plays in the story Oresteia. When compared to her daughter Electra, Clytemnestra proves to be completely different. Unlike Electra, Clytemnestra was not going to let any man go walking without Justice. When Electra’s own sister was killed by her father she didn’t ee any wrongdoing. The worst part of it is that the person who got sacrificed could have easily been Electra instead.
Electra stands by her father’s side, the man’s side, the whole time like any woman during those times would. Even after her father is dead Electra says, “l call out to my father. Pity me” (Aeschylus, The Libation Bearers, line 135), showing that Electra, even though she had nothing to do with the death of her father, believes that she needs to beg her father for forgiveness. Electra herself sees the life of a man more important than the life of a woman. In contrast to that thought, Clytemnestra sees woman Just as equal as men, and that is where they differ.
Further on into Electra’s speech to her father she says “make me far more self- possessed than mother, make this hand more pure” (Aeschylus, The Libation Bearers, line 145-146). Electra wants to be more in control and assured of herself than what she believes her mother is, and she looks to her father for this assurance. The events in the book prove that there is a huge Juxtaposition between Electra and Clytemnestra’s views about the roles of woman in society. There is a parallel when it comes to the killings of Iphigenia, Agamemnon and Clytemnestra.
Each person believed that what they were doing was acceptable to do in each of their situations. When Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter’s life he did it because he believed that that was his only option to make peace with Artemis so that he could help his brother in the Trojan War. So in Agamemnon’s eyes, the sacrifice of his daughter was an order sent by the Gods. When Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon, she also believed it was acceptable because he was the man that killed her own aughter and his own flesh in blood. The final situation was when Orestes killed his mother Clytemnestra in vengeance of his father’s murder.
The main difference between all three murders where the reactions from the chorus and citizens of the kingdoms. When Iphigenia and Clytemnestra were killed the chorus was indifferent and almost happy with what happened but when Agamemnon was killed by Clytemnestra, the chorus was in shock that a woman would do such a thing. The hand” (Aeschylus, Agamemnon, line 1571-1572) which is in contrast to when Orestes s told “But youVe done well. Don’t burden yourself with bad omens, lash yourself with guilt. YouVe set us free, the whole city of Argos” (Aeschylus, The Libation Bearers, line 1044-1046).
These murders were literally done in parallel situations but because Clytemnestra was a woman that killed a man, her offense was found to be a greater crime than Agamemnon and Orestes’. In the third book of Oresteia, Orestes is brought to the court of Athena who is the patron of Athens, and tried in front of a Jury for the crime of murdering his mother. Apollo, the God that told Orestes to kill Clytemnestra, fought for Orestes while the Furies fght for Clytemnestra. The furies argued that Orestes killed his own flesh in blood and the woman that bore him.
Unfortunately for Clytemnestra though Apollo brings up that Athena was never born by natural birth and never had a mother to raise her. He claims that children don’t need mothers, that it is the father’s seed and that’s all someone needs. Because of this when it came to a tie vote from the Jury, Athena sided with Apollo and his argument. This shows that even Athena, a woman f great power sees women as useless in a sense. Athena has been solidified to believe that the one thing women were thought to be useful for, in those ages, as not needed.
She takes the man’s side of things and agrees with Apollo, another man, instead of helping Clytemnestra. Apparently back then; even woman with a high amount of power will hide behind the decisions of powerful men instead of creating their own. Through the differences of Athena and Clytemnestra, the Juxtaposition between the murders of Iphigenia, Agamemnon and Clytemnestra and the decisions made in he Greek court, it is proven that there are significant gender roles and schemas throughout the play Oresteia.
There is no question that woman where treated differently and expected to act to a certain way during this time. The play showed a double standard of the expected behaviors between a man and woman and demonstrated all the different ways these standards are ridiculed throughout the society. Of all the things the readers learn one of the biggest things is that it definitely shows the differences in gender roles have drastically changed sense this time.