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The Tangled Ways of ZeusAnd Other Studies In and Around Greek Tragedy$
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Alan H. Sommerstein

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199568314

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199568314.001.0001

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Alternative scenarios in Sophocles' Electra *

Alternative scenarios in Sophocles' Electra *

Chapter:
(p.224) 16 Alternative scenarios in Sophocles' Electra *
Source:
The Tangled Ways of Zeus
Author(s):

Alan H. Sommerstein (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199568314.003.0017

This chapter examines how Sophocles in Electra plants false clues about how the play's action will go. At first Electra seems to assume, as in Aeschylus, that an outsider will avenge Agamemnon's death (115–17; corrected at 303–4), while the chorus wish only for the death of Aegisthus, not Clytaemestra (126–7; this is not finally contradicted until Electra and Clytaemestra confront each other). Another false clue appears when Electra apparently wishes (603–5) that she could take revenge on her mother herself; she will decide to do so when she believes Orestes dead, and even when she enters the palace at 1383 we may well suppose she is going to participate in the murder (in fact she comes out again — but still participates in the murder, by remote control). The implications of these false clues, and of the process by which they are refuted, for our understanding of the play are discussed.

Keywords:   Sophocles, Electra, Clytaemestra, Aegisthus, Orestes, revenge, murder, false clues

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