The stories are familiar: family disharmony, mourning the loss of a loved one, vengeance, national tyranny, international war, a desire for justice. This new translation by Jeffrey Scott Bernstein, an independent scholar and novelist, preserves the artistry of the original while deploying a clear speech that directly addresses a twenty-first century temperament. The Oresteia, first performed in Greece in 458 bce, has been celebrated as an example of the highest literary art.
The murder of King Agamemnon by his wife Clytemnestra, the bloody vengeance their son Orestes wreaks upon his mother, and the appearance of the goddess Athena to sort matters out, tells a foundation narrative of world drama. The trilogy traces a progression from personal blood feud to institutionalised justice, and in doing so celebrates, by the end, the triumph of democracy among the citizenry.