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Social Memory In Aeschylus’ Oresteia

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with two aspects of social memory in the Aeschylus' Oresteia. It looks at how characters and chorus in the Agamemnon, in particular, attempt to control speech and future memory, and how they manipulate the memory of the past. The play shows social memory in process. The chapter discusses Eumenides as itself an intervention in social memory. There is a rich scholarly literature about speech in the Oresteia, but most of it addresses deception, persuasion, and power speech as immediate social control. The herald's citation of the imagined inscription, however, shows that this control is also directed at memory. The most powerful force of memory seems to be quiet, private speech; public proclamations and rituals attempt to manipulate it, but only partially succeed. Eumenides seems to be a massive exercise in the recreation of the Athenian past.

Keywords: Aeschylus' Oresteia; Agamemnon; Eumenides; social memory



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