Student Question

How do two non-violent characters in the Oresteia react to or influence the action in their respective plays?

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An apt character fulfilling the role of a non-violent linchpin of the plot in Aeschylus' Libation Bearers is Cilissa, Orestes' former wet nurse. Her role is small but important. She is asked to deliver the message to Aigisthos to come to Clytemnestra and hear the news that Orestes has died; however, the chorus tells Cilissa that Aigisthos need not be summoned to come with his array of bodyguards, but rather alone. Cilissa, characteristically non-confrontational, says, "Well, I will go and do your bidding. With the gods' blessing may everything turn out for the best!" (781).

The longer play, Agamemnon, features several minor characters who seem to be immune from the conflict. Among these are the watchmen, who has the play's opening lines. He begs the audience to spare him the toils he has seen. Another such character is the herald, who announces Agamemnon's safe return. He declares "'Tis true; Fate smiles at last," and provides the audience with a brief account of the battles of the Trojan War. Neither the watchman nor the herald welcomes or proposes violence, but they propel the plots through their monologue and dialogue, respectively.

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