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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Adaptations of the Electra storyEdit
- The Oresteia, a trilogy of plays by Aeschylus
- Electra, play by Sophocles
- Electra, play by Euripides
- Electra, a lost play by Quintus Tullius Cicero of which nothing is known but the name and that it was "a tragedy in the Greek style"
- Electra, play by Jean Giraudoux
- Electra, drama by Danilo Kiš
- The Flies, a play by Jean-Paul Sartre, modernizing the Electra myth around the theme of existentialism.
- Elektra, a play by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, based on the Sophocles play.
- Mourning Becomes Electra, play by Eugene O'Neill, based on Aeschylus
- Electricidad, play by Luis Alfaro, modern adaptation of Electra based in the Chicano barrio
- Infamante Electra (2005) a play by Benjamín Galemiri
- Molora (2004) a play by Yael Farber
- The Murders at Argos (2003) a play by David Foley, modernising the return and murder of Argamemnon followed by the murders of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus
- Electra (1901) a play by Benito Pérez Galdós
- Electra, or The dropping of the masks (1954) a play by Marguerite Yourcenar
- Elektra, by Richard Strauss, with libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, based on his own play
- Elektra, by Mikis Theodorakis
- Mourning Becomes Electra, by Marvin David Levy, based on Eugene O'Neill's play
- Idomeneo, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, where she plays the role of rejected lover/villain.
- Electra, opera by Johann Christian Friedrich Haeffner, Librettot by Adolf Fredrik Ristell after Nicolas Francois Guillard. First performend on 22 July 1787 at Drottningholm
- Electra, film by Michael Cacoyannis, starring Irene Papas, based on Euripides.
- Ellie, B-movie which transfers the story to a Southern U.S. locale.
- Szerelmem, Elektra (aka Elektra, My Love), film by Miklós Jancsó, starring Mari Törőcsik.
- Filha da Mãe, and Mal Nascida, both by Portuguese film director João Canijo.
- elektraZenSuite, medium-length film by Alessandro Brucini, based on texts by Aeschylus, Sophocles, William Shakespeare, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Sylvia Plath, and the Zen Buddhist monk Takuan Soho.
- Electra, film by [SHYAMAPRASAD], starring [NAYANTHARA,PRAKASHRAJ], based on Euripides.
- 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.
- Electra is a character in the game Dante's Inferno (video game), in which the player can choose to either punish or absolve her.
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