Medea and Electra Fourth Episode: Electra, Clytemnestra, and Orestes Questions and Answers

Euripides

Fourth Episode: Electra, Clytemnestra, and Orestes Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. According to the Chorus, who are Clytemnestra’s brothers, and what have they become?

2. To what other sibling of Clytemnestra does Electra refer?

3. Which double standard does Clytemnestra complain of in her defense to Electra?

4. Why does Clytemnestra feel Iphigenia’s death so bitterly?

5. What is Electra’s interpretation of the sacrifice of her sister, relative to Clytemnestra’s response to it?

6. How does Electra compare her situation to her sister’s?

7. After the matricide, what are Orestes’ and Electra’s fears for the future?

8. How did Clytemnestra try to stop Orestes from killing her?

9. How was Orestes able to complete the act?

10. Who does Electra say is ultimately responsible for the matricide, and why?

Answers
1. The Chorus greets her as “sister of Zeus’ sons, Castor and Polydeukes,” who are now the patron gods of sailors.

2. Electra unfavorably compares Clytemnestra to her sister Helen, for whom the Trojan War was fought.

3. Clytemnestra claims that when women stray from marriage they are strongly censured, but when men do, they “hear no reproach.”

4. She claims that Iphigenia was sacrificed only because Menelaos could not control his wife Helen’s lust, and therefore started a senseless war. If the cause was just and his own city or family threatened, Agamemnon’s act would have been excusable.

5. Electra believes it was just an excuse on Clytemnestra’s part to kill her husband, because she was thinking of other men as soon as he left for the war.

6. Electra claims hers is a “living death,” worse than her sister’s quick death.

7. Orestes fears perpetual exile, for no country will welcome a man who killed his own mother; while Electra feels no man would have her for the same reason.

8. According to Orestes, she tried to provoke his pity by cupping his face in her hands, and calling him, “My son, my own son.”

9. Orestes could only kill his mother by first covering his eyes with his cloak; Electra had to guide his hands, participating herself with open eyes.

10. Electra asserts that because she “called the stroke” and guided the knife home, she is the cause of her mother’s death.