Medea and Electra Third Episode: The Messenger and Orestes’ Return Questions and Answers

Euripides

Third Episode: The Messenger and Orestes’ Return Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Electra prepared to do when she first hears the offstage “howls of death”?

2. What is her response to the Messenger when she first sees him?

3. What is the lie Orestes told Aigisthos to mask his identity?

4. For whom was Aigisthos preparing his feast?

5. Why did Orestes butcher the calf?

6. Why is Orestes given the cleaver with which he will kill Aigisthos?

7. Who among Aigisthos’ company recognized Orestes?

8. Why does Electra’s long speech to Aigisthos’ corpse stand against convention?

9. Why does Electra think Aigisthos is a military coward?

10. What does Orestes’ say about Apollo’s prophesy when faced with the idea of killing his own mother?

Answers
1. Electra is prepared to plunge the sword into her own heart if they prove Orestes has been bested.

2. She is suspicious, and demands he make him believe her.

3. Orestes tells Aigisthos that he and his company are from Thessaly, on their way to a shrine to Zeus.

4. Aigisthos was sacrificing a calf to the Nymphs.

5. He butchered the calf at Aigisthos’ flattering invitation, to prove the reputation of “Thessalians” at such tasks.

6. He claims he is going to use it to break the rib cage of the calf.

7. Orestes is recognized by an old man who had been at court before Orestes was banished.

8. It was considered shameful to speak ill of the dead.

9. She reminds him (or his corpse) that while her father led the Greeks in Troy, Aigisthos himself “shirked the war.”

10. Orestes claims,”I’ll never believe the prophesy rings true.”