Medea and Electra Second Episode: Electra, Orestes, and the Old Man Questions and Answers

Euripides

Second Episode: Electra, Orestes, and the Old Man Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who is the Old Man?

2. What are the signs he points to that prove it was Orestes who recently visited Agamemnon’s grave?

3. What is the final proof of Orestes’ identity?

4. What does the Old Man tell Orestes he must do to avenge his father?

5. What part will Orestes play in the plan?

6. What is Electra’s role?

7. Who are the pair’s allies in this plan?

8. To whom and for what do the trio pray before Orestes sets off?

9. According to the Chorus, what caused Zeus to reverse the course of the sun and send famine to the earth?

10. To what is this long–ago crime compared?

Answers
1. He was the tutor of Agamemnon, who helped Orestes to escape being killed by Aigisthos.

2. The Old Man suggests that the lock of hair left at the grave, a set of footprints leading from it, and a piece of cloth woven for him by Electra before they were separated would prove Orestes’ identity.

3. Orestes has a scar on his forehead, which he got while chasing after a fawn with Electra in their childhood.

4. The Old Man says he must kill both Aigisthos and Clytemnestra.

5. Orestes will endeavor to meet Aigisthos in a nearby meadow, where the latter has come to prepare a sacrificial feast. Orestes is to murder him there.

6. She will lure her mother to her home, on the pretext that she needs her help in performing the post–partum rights over her fictional newborn son.

7. The Old Man delivers her message to Clytemnestra and shows Orestes the way to Aigisthos’ feast; and Pylades, though mute throughout, accompanies Orestes on his mission.

8. Orestes, the Old Man and Electra pray to Zeus, to Hera, to the Earth, to the spirit of their slain father, and to all the men of Greece who died under his command to protect and aid them in their quest.

9. The Chorus recounts the legend that Agamemnon’s uncle’s treachery, in stealing both his mother and the sign of his father’s kingship, was a mortal crime that provoked the wrath of the gods.

10. The Chorus compares it to Clytemnestra’s crime in slaying her husband.