Interpreting the Playwrights’ Messages in the Oresteia Trilogy, Oedipus the King, and the Bacchae Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer

The Greek tragedies are, first of all, focused on reflection of the social and political influences that were imposed on the authors. In this respect, Aeschylus’s The Oresteia introduces the attitude to revenge and constant fight for the power and throne. It also diminishes the significance of family bonds with an emphasis placed on the natural law and justice.

In Sophocles’s Oedipus the King, the playwright chronicles the narration about the king of Thebes and his eventual fall due to the conflict between the state and the individual values. Finally, Euripides’ the Bacchae also reflects on themes of power of self-control, as well as the role of divine rule in political life. Therefore, all three plays refer to the denial of identity for the sake of gaining dominance over the others.

The importance of Aeschylus’s The Oresteia is important because the tragedy presents the main aspects of Greek tragedy. Presenting the trilogy, deals with the themes of the inheritance of evil and retribution of crime.

Both the style and nobility of the presented ideas contribute to representation of such problems as justice and social progress, as well internal struggle with the self. Such themes are also literally interpreted in Orestes killing his mother and Aegusthus’s participation in murdering his cousin Agamemnon, who is also to blame in slaying his daughter.

The murder is also associated with vengeance, which was a socially accepted form of justice during those times. In the book, Aeschylus emphasizes this idea through chorus’s constant repetitions: “Thou biddest; I will speak my soul’s thought out, Revering as a shrine thy father’s grave…Pray in set terms, Who shall the slayer slay”[1]. The author’s message, therefore, shapes his political outlook on the social organization, as well as eternal struggles between leaders.

In Sophocles’s Oedipus the King, the main hero faces a difficult decision concerning his role as the ruler that confronts his role as a rebel. By rejecting other claims than his own, Oedipus represents as classical personality portrayed in Greek tragedies. The protagonist is reluctant to listen to other people’s opinion because of his aspiration to resist to greater forces. In the play, the author emphasizes, “Do not seek to be master in everything for the thing you mastered did not follow you throughout your life”[2].

As it can be seen, the main hero fails to identity his actual purposes, as well as to reconcile with his origins. Euripides’s The Bacchae once again emphasizes the impact of power on distortion of self-identity[3]. Hence, the king Pentheus strives to compensate his sorrows through gaining more powers. Similar assumptions are connected to the Dionysus’s denial of his mortal roots and aspiration to reach a new status.

In conclusion, it should be stressed that all three authors introduce the political and social contexts in the play to emphasize the hero’s attempts and purposes in life. In particular, the main mythological narrations are strongly associated with family rivalries and revenge for the sake of greater divine purposes.

All the stories also represent the characters’ eternal fight with their origins and identities for achieving grater goals their lives. Finally, the authors introduce a religious aspect as the most typical one in Greek culture because it had a potent impact on power and control. The confrontation between state and the personality is also an important theme illustrating the political situation at those times.


Aeschylus. The Oresteia: Agamemnon, the Libation-bearers, and the Eumenides. US: Publishing, 2005.

Euripdus. The Bacchae. US: Richer Resources Publications. 2008.

Sophocles. Oedipus the King. US: University of Chicago Press, 2010.


  1. Aeschylus. The Oresteia: Agamemnon, the Libation-bearers, and the Eumenides. US: ( Publishing, 2005) 2.
  2. Sophocles. Oedipus the King. (US: University of Chicago Press, 2010) 75.
  3. Euripdus. The Bacchae. (US: Richer Resources Publications. 2008).
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