The Libation Bearers is the second play in the only extant trilogy from Ancient Greece, The Oresteia. Originally presented around 450 BCE at the City Dionysia, The Libation Bearers recounts the story of Orestes’ return to Argos. Compelled by the god Apollo, Orestes is resolved to kill his mother Clytemnestra, and her lover Aegisthus--revenge for their slaughter of Agamemnon, Orestes’ father. This murder is not just vengeance, but also freedom for the people of Argos, who are victims of Aegisthus’ terrible leadership and cruelty. When Orestes arrives in Argos, he sees Electra dressed as a slave, in mourning at her father’s tomb. They siblings reunite, scarcely believing that the other is really there. Then, they set their plan for revenge in motion: By delivering a message that Orestes is dead, the disguised prince will be able to get into the palace and slaughter the tyrannical king and queen. However, Clytemnestra is shrewd and manipulative, and even when her lover is dead won’t give up without a fight. Can Orestes fulfill his revenge and duty to Apollo? Will Clytemnestra still wield power over him? One of the oldest tales in Greek mythology, The Libation Bearers is a tale of deception, revenge, and murder--all in the name of honor.
The Libation Bearers guide sections