Orestes

Greek - King of Argos, Mycenae and Sparta. Son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Brother of Electra and Iphigenia. Cousin of Pylades. At the time of his father's murder by his mother and her lover Aegisthus, Orestes was ten. He was saved from death at the hands of Aegisthus by his sister Electra who hid him among the shepherds. In another version, Electra sent him to the court of King Strophius where he made an inseparable friend of the king's son, Pylades. As a man, he was told by the Delphic Oracle that he should avenge his father's death. He tricked his way into the palace with the story that Orestes was dead and killed both Aegisthus and Clytemnestra together with their daughter Helen. He was tried for matricide and condemned to death by stoning, a verdict commuted to suicide. His friend Pylades who had helped in the murder and Electra who had incited him were both included in the sentence. The trial had been arranged by his uncle Menelaus and Orestes planned to kill his wife Helen, and his daughter Hermione to avenge what he regarded as a betrayal, but Zeus intervened and carried Helen off to Olympus as an immortal where she became the guardian of sailors like her brothers Castor and Pollux. Hermione was released after being held captive for some time. Orestes escaped the death sentence but was harried into madness by the Erinyes for matricide. He stood trial again for the killings but was defended by Apollo and Athene and eventually acquitted. The Delphic Oracle said that, to be rid of the Erinyes, he must seize the wooden image of Artemis which was worshipped by the Taurians. As it turned out, the priestess in charge of the temple was Iphigenia, his sister, who had been saved from the sacrificial knife by Artemis, and she was easily able to deceive Thoas, the Taurian king, so they were able to escape, taking the image with them. Thoas followed the ship of Orestes as far as Sminthos where he was killed by Orestes. When he finally got back to Mycenae with the image of Artemis, the Erinyes gave up their pursuit of him but he found that Aletes, a son of Aegisthus, had usurped the throne. Orestes killed him and would have killed his sister, Erigone, had she not been carried off by Artemis. Orestes married his cousin Hermione and fathered Tisamenus and later, with his second wife Erigone, he had another son, Penthilus. He died at Orestia when bitten by a snake and was buried at Tegea. His bones were later recovered by Lichas and re-interred in Sparta. Other versions of his expiation say that, in one case, he bit off one of his own fingers, in another that he was doused in pig's blood. One story says that the Erinyes still harried him after his death and Apollo gave him a bow with which to ward them off. Sometimes called Orestes.
Greek - A play by Euripides dealing with the story of Aegisthus, Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Also identified as Orestes.

Nearby Myths