Justice is blind: An eye for an eye for an eye?

Being someone who has read only a few Greek playwrights, Aeschylus’s The Furies gave me a vast take on vengeance and tragedy that was unanticipated, but worthy of talking about. There are many things that could be addressed in this playwright such as the blatant gender inequality or the lack of consistency between the characters, but what I was quick to recognize was the series of “normalized” violence that took place throughout this play. Agamemnon sacrifices his youngest daughter, Iphigenia solely so that he can go to war.  Clytemnestra, the wife of Agamemnon is upset at him for sacrificing his daughter, so she decides to stab him to death. Orestes the son of Clytemnestra and Agamemmno, decides to kill Clytemnestra for killing his father. This, among other things in this play is what puzzled me, but made me think about a real-world situation. Our society is set up in a way where in order to feel avenged, we must retaliate against those who hurt us, much like this and other Greek tragedies. 

As you dive deeper into this tragedy,  you start to see the major misogyny taking place when it comes to The Furies and their  way of thinking. The Furies claims that Orestes paying for what he did is justified because he killed his own blood, but Clytemnestra killing her husband for the murder of their daughter isn’t. Apollo, Orestes lawyer argues that Orestes and his mother aren’t really blood and uses Athena as an example of someone who doesn’t have a mother. This scene was very interesting to me because Apollo gives a convincing argument, despite the reader maybe thinking different before. Once again, I was able to relate this tragedy to the real world and how things in society and in a courtroom are never just black and white. This goes to show the most unjustifiable claims can be justified in a court of law. 

For such appalling and murderous acts that took place in this play I thought this play had an acceptable ending. It started with the furies form of justice as revenge, but ended with a legal system being set in place. This proves how important having a legal system is and how without it a society as a whole would fail. Although, vengeance and retaliation is something people will always have a hand in, justice will prevail.

Legal topics in The Furies


Within Aeschylus’ play, The Furies, there are many topics regarding law and order and the justice system as a whole that are portrayed. Something we talked about as a class prior to reading this play is the ideology of “an eye for an eye” and whether it is moral. This is seen within The Furies, when Clytemnestra kills her husband Agamemnon because he sacrificed their daughter, Iphigenia. After Clytemnestra kills Agamemnon, their son Orestes takes matters into his own hands, and kills his mother. (So, this situation is actually an eye for an eye for an eye). For the remainder of the play, Orestes is being held accountable by the Furies for committing the act of matricide. 

The concept of “an eye for an eye” is a very interesting one to think about. In some degree, “an eye for an eye” can also be argued as being the basis of the justice system as a whole. For example, those receiving the death penalty as a form of punishment for committing the act of murder alines with exactly what “an eye for an eye” is defined as. When being punished for your crimes is a result of the legal system it is deemed as being just, as opposed to someone outside the justice system taking matters into their own hands, which is deemed morally wrong. Although a complicated topic, “an eye for an eye” is very interesting to think about in terms of within both literature and the real world. 

Another topic that can be examined within Aeschylus’ play The Furies, is the discussion of individual accountability. Within the play, Orestes shifts the blame of killing his mother to Apollo, who he claims orchestrated the crime. This begs the question, who is to blame, the one that committed the act or the one who told the other to do so? This is an issue that is seen in real world situations as well. Although both would technically be culpable in a court of law, which one truly deserves to have the harsher punishment for the crime?  

Overall, The Furies sheds light on many topics in regards to law and order and the justice system. It is interesting reading and discussing these topics because although they are being portrayed in a literary and Mythical setting, they are still relevant to today’s society as well.