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File:1869 Frederic Leighton - Electra at the Tomb of Agamemnon.jpg

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In Greek mythology, Electra (Template:Lang-el, Ēlektra) was an Argive princess and daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra. She and her brother Orestes plotted revenge against their mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus for the murder of their father, Agamemnon. Electra is the main character in the Greek tragedies Electra by Sophocles and Electra by Euripides and has inspired various other works. The psychological concept of the Electra complex is also named after her.

FamilyEdit

Electra's parents were King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra. Her sisters were Iphigeneia and Chrysothemis, and her brother Orestes. In the Iliad, Homer is understood to be referring to Electra in mentioning "Laodice" as a daughter of Agamemnon.[1]

The daughter of Agamemnon should not be confused with her namesake the sea-nymph Electra, the mother of the lesser goddess Iris by the Sea-Titan Thaumas.

The Murder of AgamemnonEdit

Electra was absent from Mycenae when her father, King Agamemnon, returned from the Trojan War to be murdered by Aegisthus, Clytemnestra's lover, and/or by Clytemnestra herself. Clytemnestra had held a grudge against her husband Agamemnon for murdering their eldest daughter Iphigenia as sacrifice to Artemis or Athena (disputed). Aegisthus and Clytemnestra also killed Cassandra, Agamemnon's war prize, a prophet priestess of Troy. Eight years later Electra was brought from Athens with her brother, Orestes. (Odyssey, iii. 306; X. 542).

According to Pindar (Pythia, xi. 25), Orestes was saved by his old nurse or by Electra, and was taken to Phanote on Mount Parnassus, where King Strophius took charge of him. In his twentieth year, Orestes was ordered by the Delphic oracle to return home and avenge his father's death.

File:Orestes Elektra Hermes Louvre K544.jpg

The Murder of ClytemnestraEdit

According to Aeschylus, Orestes saw Electra's face before the tomb of Agamemnon, where both had gone to perform rites to the dead; a recognition took place, and they arranged how Orestes should accomplish his revenge. Pylades and Orestes killed Clytemnestra and Aegisthus (in some accounts with Electra helping).

Before her death, Clytemnestra curses Orestes and the Furies come to torment him. He was pursued by the Erinyes, or Furies, whose duty it is to punish any violation of the ties of family piety. Electra, however, was not hounded by the Erinyes. Orestes took refuge in the temple at Delphi. When he went to the temple it is said a priestess found him first, covered in blood and with the furies flying all around him (Orestes). Afterward, they washed him with pig blood to purify him. Once purified he traveled to Athens to seek Athena.

At last Athena (also known as Areia) received him on the Acropolis of Athens and arranged a formal trial of the case before twelve Attic judges. The Erinyes demanded their victim; he pleaded the orders of Apollo; the votes of the judges were equally divided, and Athena gave her casting vote for acquittal.

In Iphigeneia in Tauris, Euripides tells the tale somewhat differently. He claims that Orestes was led by the Furies to Tauris on the Black Sea, where his sister Iphigeneia was being held. The two met when Orestes and Pylades were brought to Iphigeneia to be prepared for sacrifice to Artemis. Iphigeneia, Orestes, and Pylades escaped from Tauris. The Furies, appeased by the reunion of the family, abated their persecution.

MarriageEdit

Later, Electra fell in love with Pylades, the son of King Strophius, and they were married. Pylades had cared for Orestes while he hid from his mother and her lover, and had helped Orestes and Electra kill Clytemnestra and Aegisthus.Template:Citation needed

According to Euripides, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus had previously given Electra in marriage to a peasant, believing that her children would be less likely to take revenge if they were not of noble birth, but the peasant respected her and declined to consummate the marriage.

File:Electra and Orestes - Project Gutenberg eText 14994.png

Adaptations of the Electra storyEdit

PlaysEdit

OperaEdit

FilmsEdit

MusicEdit

ComicsEdit

  • In the Marvel Comics universe, the character Elektra Natchios was distantly based on Electra; in the comics, Elektra becomes an assassin after witnessing her father's murder. When Elektra's backstory was revealed, her older brother's name was Orestez Natchios and they had a family dog named Agamemnon. Although two conflicting histories of Elektra were published, in the original story Orestez murdered their mother after her infidelities shamed their father.

GamesEdit

ReferencesEdit

bar:Elektra

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