So recently I read a book called The Oresteia. One thing that I noticed from this book is that there is a lot of revenge and family affairs. To start off in the first section which was called The Serpent and the Eagle, Agamemnon decided to sacrifice his innocent daughter, Iphigenia. I mean, who does that? Honestly, I was taken aback by this. His daughter was innocent. The next crazy event to happen was that in order to get revenge on Agamemnon, Clytemnestra killed her husband. Not that I would have done the same, but I don’t blame her at all. This was the start of a chain reaction of revenge and murder. After Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon, she inherited his throne and found a side piece, Aegisthus.
Her son Orestes (whom the book is based off of) and daughter Electra decided to plot out how their mother Clytemnestra was going to die (aka how they were going to murder her.) In my opinion, I don’t know how he was going to pull it off. Eventually Electra just pressures Orestes into killing not only their mom, but Aegisthus as well. What I want to know is what type of thoughts were going through Orestes' head during all of this. This part of the book is called The Libation Bearers. Orestes ended up killing his mother, Clytemnestra.
So let me continue this story and map it out for you. In the last part called The Eumenides, furies found out about Orestes killing his mother. They wished exact vengeance and went to hunt and torture Orestes. Orestes escapes the wrath of the furies. I don’t know how he keeps getting himself out of these situations. Eventually Clytemnestra’s spirit helps the furies find where he is. I’m just wondering how someone can get away with murder and escape successfully. A character named Athena, which most of you have heard of, joined the story and attempted to bring in justice. In order to end this revenge killing, she developed a new legal system for justice and essentially started the first trials. Orestes begged Athena for forgiveness, which she ended up giving him and found him innocent after he plead his innocence. I’m very concerned about how Athena found him innocent but he was the most guilty in this story.
In conclusion, this whole story helped create the first justice system in Greece. I personally was not a fan of this book, mainly because it was all over the place with murder and revenge being the main topic. It was nice to read and understand what happened back in Ancient Greece but I’m gonna end my summary here. Until next time.
Women in literature are often underrated. In the book Cassandra, Wolf explains the struggle that Cassandra had while being a woman in ancient Greece. This book was narrated by Cassandra herself. At the beginning of this book, we come to the understanding that she was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo, but then was cursed by him because she refused to sleep with him. Every time she would prophecy, nobody would ever believe her. She even tried to warn everyone of the fall of Troy. Again, because of her curse, nobody believed her.
Cassandra dealt with a lot of confusing monologues about her personality and motives of growing up in Troy. As the story continues, it becomes clear that she was powerless to oppose the political forces that supported the war, which then brought disaster to Troy. She also blamed herself for the death of her sister, Polyxena. Eumelous used Polyxena to lure Achilles and kill him. Because of that, the Greeks come and take Polyxena away to kill her. Cassandra tried to tell her father that there was no reason for a war and that Helen was not in Troy. That led to her father not believing her and deciding to start a war. Cassandra was marginalized because nobody believed her when she prophesied. Because of that, she felt that she indirectly caused the war. Throughout this novel, Cassandra finds herself thinking more and more about Aeneas in her desperate effort to justify to him and to herself about her fate.
In my opinion, I believe that Cassandra is her own hero. She doesn’t need a man who she will love only for him to die. On page 138, she says “I cannot love a hero. I do not want to see you being transformed into a statue” (Wolf). This line says a lot about Cassandra’s character and how strong and tough of a woman she is. After Apollo cursed her, she had many opportunities to kill herself, but she never did. She stayed alive to see where her fate would take her.
In the second half of this book, the author reflects on her life and how she relates to Cassandra. Wolf grew up as a citizen of east Germany, where it was very much of a police state. This type of living was heavily controlling leaving little to no freedom. This novel, Cassandra, was censored when it was initially published. In past Greek books like Oresteia, Wolf believed that the female voices weren’t represented well. Most of the time were just an afterthought. Most of these authors that wrote these books happened to be men, so Wolf wrote in the way that she thinks was the most accurate representation of these female characters.
A woman's voice needs to be present and admired. It is important to listen to what women have to say.
To start off, this book was another perspective on the first book we read, the Oresteia. It included the stories of Clytemnestra, Orestes, and Electra. To put it into different words, this book goes into greater detail on the book, the Oresteia. Agamemnon decides that he wants to sacrifice Iphigenia for the gods and for the Achian army to be able to come through to Troy. Iphigenia is sacrificed and Clytemnestra decides that she has to kill Agamemnon. Soon after Clytemnestra kills her husband, Electra finds out and begins to plan out to kill her mother, Clytemnestra.
The next part picks up on Orestes' story. He starts off at a camp that was made for the sons and grandsons of the Mycenaean Elders. He meets Leander and Mitros. With the help of the two, they are able to sneak past the security officers and escape. Then. they end up running into a man that offers them a basic farming job. When they arrive at the man’s house after a couple days of traveling, the man takes back the offer, leaving them to go on with their journey. They end up in a forest which seems good for the moment. The moment is ruined when a pack of 3 wild dogs enters the forest and starts attacking them. Skipping forward, Orestes and Leander get into a low-key relationship. Mitros leaves with one of the dogs from earlier.
The novel then shifts to Electra’s point of view, where we find out what her plan is to kill her mother. She would spend years alone, waiting for the day that Orestes would return home so that they could meet up together to kill their mother.
Lastly, the novel shifts to Orestes' viewpoint one last time. He goes through a series of struggles and almost loses his sense of identity. He helps Electra kill their mother by stabbing her multiple times. Then he starts to feel somewhat alienated by the elders and his peers. Nobody is trying to listen or hear this man out at all. Nobody wants to be alone with him or even just talk with him. Orestes’ finds out that his wife Ianthe is pregnant, but not with his baby. Leander tells Orestes that he basically doesn’t have a voice in the community anymore, which is sad to see. Ianthe, Orestes’ wife, is pregnant and begins to go into labor with Orestes’ by her side. This is where the story ends.
This book was very easy to read. I believe that the author Colm Tóibín did a good job going into detail of the backgrounds of the three main characters.
To start off, this book was way different than any of the other books we’ve read. Yes, the other books had different stories and events obviously, but this book had a whole bunch of different events and stories about the Odyssey to read about, chapter by chapter. This book brought in some new characters, one being Odysseus which the book was named after. Odysseus was the legendary Greek king of Ithaca. He was the famous hero of Homer’s most popular poem, the Odyssey. One thing that I liked the most about the book was that it had such unique titles for chapters like “Decrement”, “Epiphany”, “Intermezzo”, and so much more. In this blog, I’m going to talk about two chapters or stories that stood out to me and why.
The first chapter that caught my eye was Chapter 9, “One Kindness” (p. 44). The summary of this chapter is that Odysseus was brought in on raft sticks and found himself at a lit fire in a cave. There were older ladies, madams, inside almost gossiping about Odysseus. They were stating what they had thought of him, as he lay close enough to hear, but far enough to not be noticed. After some talking, Odysseus said that his lady was kind, and the madams had basically dropped their act and continued to talk only exclusively to each other. I thought it was super interesting to hear the madams openly speaking of what they thought about Odysseus.
The second chapter that I enjoyed was Chapter 27, “No Man’s Wife” (p. 153). This chapter basically was when Odysseus showed himself in front of Penelope and was trying to essentially win her back. Penelope being the independent woman, she disregarded Odysseus and told him that she isn’t his wife. For me, I thought this was such a power move coming from Penelope. I love Penelope in the first place, and this story just makes her seem so much for cooler.
These chapters that were written by Zachary Mason brought all types of emotions to me, and I would really recommend reading this book is you liked the chapters that I talked about.
So this book by Madeline Miller showed the powerful side of women in Ancient Greece. This book was about a girl named Circe. She went through many different obstacles and challenges in her life. She trusted different gods and fell in love but in the end, she always remained super independent and fierce. This story starts with when Circe was born. Her parents were Perse and Helios. Their main force when how and who they were going to marry her off to. They wanted someone who could be competent.
The first man that Circe gives her heart to is a mortal fisherman named Glaucos. She doesn’t want to marry him. After all, she can’t marry someone just as simple as a mortal fisherman because she has high standards, as she should. She asks her grandma, Tethys, to see if she can change him into a god because those are where her standards are. When Tethys tells her that it is impossible, Circe is so upset. She knows that it IS possible and that the herbs to change him DO exist. So she finds the right herbs and makes a potion to change him into a god. What she doesn’t realize is that was magic and she has special powers. She gives Glaucos the potion and he becomes a god. The turning point was when Glaucos falls in love with a sea nymph named Scylla. Enraged with jealousy, Circe makes a potion for Scylla that turns her into her ugly side, which eventually makes her turn into a hideous monster. This was when Circe discovered her powers. Unfortunately for Circe, Glaucos just disregards Scylla and herself and moves on to another nymph.
At this point, Circe is just being an independent woman and is showing great strength. Her last and most impactful lover was a famous man named Odysseus, whom we talked about in Blog 4. She and Odysseus did the unspoken. This ultimately led to Circe falling pregnant. She originally had turned Odysseus’ men into pigs, but once she fell in love, she turned them back to men. After her painful pregnancy, she gives birth to a boy named Telegonus. She finds out that Athena wants her to hand over her child, and this upsets Circe. After a lot of fighting, Telegonus goes away for a while, leaving Circe heartbroken.
This book showed how strong Circe was when she had to face so much trouble. It helped her find her character and her magic powers. She felt like she had a purpose, even though most of the time she would resort to men for her problems.
For our final blog, we read the book, The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. This book was fairly easy to read, and it was very interesting. It talks about the Odyssey, from Penelope’s perspective and her twelve maids’ perspective. It was actually interesting to read because the dialogue was set kind of like a play in my opinion.
The Penelopiad starts with the birth of Penelope. This story was going great at the beginning, until it wasn’t. It talked about Penelope’s chaotic childhood and the events of her early life. It talked about how her father Icarius tried to drown her by throwing her into the sea but she was luckily saved by ducks. As the book went on, Penelope would talk about her life while her Maids would comment on every event. For instance, when Penelope talked about getting married to Odysseus, the Maids talked about how jealous they were of Penelope. They had wished that they were the one getting married, since they weren’t allowed to marry.
Fast forward to three fourths of the book, while Odysseus was away in Troy, suitors would come by and ask Penelope to marry them, and she would say no. They tried attempt after attempt. Then eventually Odysseus came back disguised as an old beggar, and Penelope knew it was him. Penelope tried to get rid of the suitors and then finally she decided to round them up and kill them all at once in her room. The final part that was crazy to me was when the Maids were hung. They were hung by Telemachus after being caught spying to help Penelope. The after-effect of hanging the twelve Maids left Odysseus to be haunted by them, making him go on a journey of what I call a “self reflection”.
I remember actually reading this story when I was in middle school, and it was pretty interesting. To me, I feel like it was pretty harsh to just kill off the Maids. Instead of being hung, they could've been punished for the doings. I would like to know what would’ve happened if they weren’t killed off.