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Primary Sources | Secondary Sources | Music | DVD

Primary Sources

Aesch. Ag. complete.
Lib. complete.
Eum. complete.
Apollod. E. 2.16: Agamemnon and family.
E. 6.23-6.29: The legend of Agamemnon.
Eur. El. complete.
IA. complete.
IT. complete.
Orest. complete.
Hdt. 1.67.1-1.68.6: The bones of Orestes.
Hom. Od. 1.26-1.43: Zeus thinks about Aegisthus.
Od. 3.193-3.200: Nestor talks about Aegisthus.
Od. 3.229-3.312: A lengthy account of Agamemnon’s return.
Od. 4.512-4.547: Another account of Agamemnon’s murder.
Od. 11.377-11.464: Achilles converses with Agamemnon.
Od. 24.191-24.204: Agamemnon compares Clytemnestra to Penelope.
Il. 2.100-2.108: Agamemnon’s scepter.
Hyg. 82: Tantalus’ Crime and Punishment.
83: Pelops’ Ivory Shoulder.
84: Pelop’s Chariot Race with Oenomaüs.
87: Birth of Aegisthus.
88: The Feud of Atreus and Thyestes.
117: Clytemnestra Plots Agamemnon’s Death.
120: Orestes and Iphigenia at Tauris.
122: Orestes and Iphigenia Return to Greece.
123: Death of Neoptolemus at Delphi.
124: Catalogue of Kings in Mycenae.
258: Atreus and Thyestes.
Ov. Her. 8: Hermione to Orestes.
Met. 6.401-411: Pelops’ Ivory Shoulder.
Paus. 1.28.5: Areopagus.
1.33.1: Iphigenia in Brauron.
1.43.1: Iphigenia.
2.16.5-2.16.7: Mycenae.
2.18.1-2.18.2: Atreus and Thyestes.
2.18.6: Orestes.
2.31.8-2.31.9: The cleansing of Orestes.
3.3.6-3.3.7: The bones of Orestes.
3.11.10: The grave of Orestes.
3.16.7: 3.16.11: The wooden image of Tauric Artemis, Orthia Upright, stolen by Orestes and Iphigenia.
5.1.6-5.1.7: Oenomaüs and Pelops.
5.10.6-5.10.7: The Olympia pediment; chariot race between Oenomaüs and Pelops.
5.13.1-5.13.7: The sanctuary of Pelops; Tantalus.
5.17.7-5.17.8: Depictions on the chest of Cypselus of Oenamaüs, Pelops, etc.
5.20.6-5.20.8: The pillar of Oenomaüs.
6.20.15-6.20.19: Taraxippus, the terror of horses, and Pelops.
6.21.7-6.22.11: The suitors of Hippodamia.
8.14.10-8.14.12: Myrtilus.
8.34.1-8.34.4: Eumenides.
8.54.4: Tomb of Orestes.
9.40.11-9.41.1: The history and worship of Agamemnon’s scepter.
Pind. O. 1: Tantalus, Pelops, and the winning of Hippodamia.
P. 11.1-11.37: Orestes.
Sen. Ag. complete.
Th. complete.
Strab. 8.6.10: The empire of Agamemnon.
12.2.3: The rites of Artemis Tauropolus from Tauric Scythia.

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Primary Sources | Secondary Sources | Music | DVD

Secondary Sources


Eliot, T. S (1888–1965). The Family Reunion. Play.

Giraudoux, Jean (1882–1944). électre. Play.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1749–1832). Iphigenie auf Tauris. Play.

Jeffers, Robinson (1887–1962). “The Tower beyond Tragedy.” Poem.

Oates, Joyce Carol (1938–). Angel of Light. Novel. An absorbing, modern American version of the Oresteia by a prolific and renowned author.

O’Neill, Eugene (1888–1953). Mourning Becomes Electra. Play.

Racine, Jean (1639–1699). Iphigenie en Aulide. Play.

Richardson, Jack (1935–). The Prodigal. Play.

Sartre, Jean-Paul (1905–1980). Les mouches (“The Flies”). Play.

Schiller, Friedrich von (1759–1805). Iphigenie in Aulis. Play.

Unsworth, Barry. The Song of Songs. New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2003. An updating, revisionist retelling of the sacrifice of Iphigenia by a renowned author that brutally modernizes the politics of the unheroic protagonists.


Bloom, Harold. Aeschylus. New York: Chelsea House, 2002.

Goldhill, Simon. Aeschylus: The Oresteia. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Herington, C. J. Aeschylus. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986.

Lloyd-Jones, H. The Justice of Zeus, 2nd ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.

Rosenmeyer, Thomas G. The Art of Aeschylus. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.

Simon, Bennett. The Tragic Drama and the Family: Psychoanalytic Studies from Aeschylus to Beckett. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. The Greek plays included are the Oresteia and Medea.

Vermeule, Emily. “Baby Aegisthus and the Bronze Age,” Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society, 38 (1987), pp. 122-152.

Webster, T. B. L. From Mycenae to Homer. London: Methuen, 1964.

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Primary Sources | Secondary Sources | Music | DVD


Bach, P.D.Q. (Peter Schickele, 1935–). Iphigenia in Brooklyn. Humorous cantata. The Wurst of P.D.Q. Bach. Ferrante et al. Chamber Orchestra, cond. Mester. Vanguard VCD2-719/20.

Diepenbrock, Alphons (1862–1921). Elektra. Symphonic suite. Residentie Orchestra the Hague, cond. Vonk. Chandos CHAN 8821. Includes Marsyas and overture to Aristophanes’ The Birds.

Eaton, John (1935–). The Cry of Clytemnestra. Aria and scene from the opera. Nelson. Indiana New Music Ensemble, cond. Sollberger. A dramatic tour de force. Indiana School of Music IUSM-04. Other selections of Eaton’s music on this disc are From the Cave of the Sybil, Ajax, and A Greek Vision.

———. Ajax, for bass-baritone and ensemble. Garvin. Indiana New Music Ensemble, cond. Baker. Indiana School of Music IUSM-04. Verses about Ajax’ insanity and recovery, set to music by Eaton in response to America’s position after the war in Vietnam. Other selections of Eaton’s music on this disc are The Cry of Clytemnestra, From the Cave of the Sybil, and A Greek Vision.

Fibich, Zdenk (1850–1900). Hippodamia. Stage melodrama trilogy. Text by Jaroslav Vrchlick, after Sophocles and Euripides. Adamova et al. Brno State Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Jílek. Supraphon Records SU 3033-2 612. A powerful, monumental work, comprising six CDs. The three operas are The Courtship of Pelops, The Atonement of Tantalus, and Hippodamia’s Death.

Gluck, Christoph Willibald (1714–1787). Iphigenia in Aulis. Opera. Revised version by Wagner. Moffo et al. Munich Radio Orchestra, cond. Eichhorn. Eurodisc 7796-2-RG. A very fine performance of one of Gluck’s best works.

———. Iphigenia in Tauris. Opera of great beauty and passion. Montague et al. Orchestre de l’Opéra de Lyon, cond. Gardiner. Among several other recordings is a live performance with Callas et al. La Scala Orchestra, cond. Sanzogno. Melodram MEL CD-26012.

Haeffner, Johann Christian Friedrich (1759–1833). Electra. Opera. Martinpelto et al. Drottningholms Barockensemble, cond. Schuback. Caprice CAP 22030:1-2. Haeffner is an important composer in the history of Swedish music.

Lim, Liza (1966–). The Oresteia. Memory theatre in seven parts based on Aeschylus’ drama. For voices and ensemble. Elision Ensemble, cond. Gorli. Ricordi CRMCD 1030. A theatrical piece first performed in 1993.

Mageau, Mary (1974–). The Furies. Concerto for piano and orchestra. Lorenz. Queensland Symphony Orchestra, cond. Williams. Vienna Modern Masters VMM 3036. Each of the three movements bears a brief poetic description of the musical content: Alecto and her triumphant pursuit of Orestes; Tisiphone’s terrifying sleep; Megaera’s pursuit of Alcmaeon.

Milhaud, Darius (1892–1974). L’Orestie d’Eschyle: Agamemnon; Les Choéphores; Les Euménides. Three short operatic treatments to a libretto by Paul Claudel. Les Choéphores and Les Euménides. Cond. Milhaud. Sacem (Archives Sonores de la Phonothèque Nationale) 150 122.

Piccinni, Niccolò (1728–1800). Iphigénia en Tauride. Opera. Baleani et al. Orchestra e Coro dell’Ente Artistico Teatro Petruzzelli, cond. Renzetti. Fonit/Cetra CDC 32.

Schubert, Franz (1797–1828). “Fragment aus dem Aischylos” (song from a chorus from the Eumenides), “Der entsühnte Orest,” and “Orest auf Tauris” (Orestes’ song of purification and his address to the land of the Taurians). Fischer-Dieskau and Moore. Deutsche Grammophon 437 215-2. Vols. 1 and 2; “Fragment aus dem Aischylos” and “Der entsühnte Orest,” The Hyperion Schubert Edition 14. Hampson, McLaughlin, and Johnson. Hyperion CDJ33014.

Sigurbjörnsson, Torkel (1938–). Liongate, for flute, strings, and percussion. The composer had written incidental music for Aeschylus’ Oresteia and his thoughts and feelings about the legend while walking through the Lion Gate were still fresh when he wrote this piece. Includes Euridice. Wiesler. Southern Jutland Symphony Orchestra, cond. Vettö. BIS CD-709.

Strauss, Richard (1864–1949). Elektra. Operatic masterpiece, with text brilliantly adapted from Sophocles by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Nilsson et al. Vienna Philharmonic, cond. Solti. London 417345-2LH2; Borkh et al. Dresden State Orchestra, cond. Böhm. Deutsche Grammophon 445329-2 (formerly 431737-2).

Taneiev (Taneyev), Sergei (1856–1915). The Oresteia. Theatrical modern opera, after Aeschylus. Chernobayev et al. Chorus and Orchestra of the Belorussian State Opera, cond. Kolomizheva. Olympia OCD 1w95A/B.

Theodorakis, Mikis (1925–). Electra. Dolbonoss, Feljaer, et al. St Petersburg State Academic Capella, cond. Theodorakis. The libretto is based on an abridged translation of Sophocles.

Wallace, William (1860–1940). Prelude to the Eumenides of Aeschylus. BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, cond. Brabbins. Hyperion CDA66987. The score bears the following words in Greek, “It profiteth a man to gain wisdom through trouble.”

Xenakis, Iannis (1922–2001). La Déesse Athena, for baritone, solo percussion, and chamber orchestra. Xenakis explains that the subject is the founding of the first human tribunal, and he includes an excerpt from Aeschylus’ Eumenides (trans. Fagels), in which Athena establishes the Areopagus. Larson and Adams. Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic, cond. Izquierdo. Mode 58.

———. Oresteia. Anjou Ensemble, cond. Debart. Montaigne 782151. First composed for a performance of Aeschylus’ trilogy in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at the request of the stage director Alexis Salomos, who had previously commissioned a score for a production of The Suppliants. From this music Xenakis composed a “suite” (see next entry). For a performance of Aeschylus’ Oresteia in 1987, Xenakis wrote a new version of the score and added the great scene Kassandra, performed by Spiros Sakkas (baritone) and Sylvio Gualda (percussionist). This is the version, and these are the artists of the recording.

———. Oresteia. Salabert/Actuels SCD8906, distributed by Harmonia Mundi. Suite for chorus and orchestra, with the addition of the section entitled Kassandra, for baritone and percussion solo. See previous entry.

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Primary Sources | Secondary Sources | Music | DVD


Agamemnon. Modernized production of Aeschylus by the London Small Theater Company. Insight Media. DP605.

Elektra. Opera by Richard Strauss. Leonie Rysanek, Astrid Varnay, Catarina Ligenza, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Wiener Philharmoniker, cond. Karl Böhm, directed by Götz Friedrich, and filmed on the outskirts of Vienna amidst filth and rain. Deutsche Grammophon. The renowned Rysanek as Elektra and Fischer-Dieskau as Orest make this cinematically and musically a most credible performance.  

———. Birgit Nilsson, Leonie Rysanek, Mignon Dunn, Robert Nagy, Donald McIntyre et al. Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, cond. James Levine. Nilsson can no longer sing the role as radiantly as she once did (see Music) and the camera is not flattering to this great Elektra. Rysanek as Chrysothemis lends splendid support. Pioneer Classics.

———. Eva Marton, Brigette Fassbaender, Cheryl Studer, Franz Grundheber, James King, et al. Director, Harry Kupfer. Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera, cond. Claudio Abbado.

Electra. Film starring Irene Papas and directed by Michael Cacoyannis. MGM Home Entertainment. Cacoyannis made two other classic movies based on Euripides, also available on DVD: Iphigenia and The Trojan Women.

Electra, My Love. A film by the Hungarian director Miklos Jancso, visually beautiful and filled with powerful symbolism. At the end, there is no ambiguity about his political message: this legend for all mankind is about the victory of freedom over tyranny. Facets Video.

Ermione. Opera by Rossini based on Racine’s Andromaque. Anna Caterina Antonacci et al. The London Philharmonic, cond. Andrew Davis. Glyndebourne Opera Production set by Graham Vick in the classically inspired auditorium of an Italian opera house, not in ancient Greece. Directed by Vick. Kultur.

Iphigenia. Film. An adaptation of Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis, directed by Michael Cacoyannis, with a superb Greek cast, including the incomparable Irene Papas as Clytemnestra.  A cinematic masterpiece, like his Iphigenia and The Trojan Women. MGM.

Iphigénie en Tauride. Opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck. Juliette Galstian, Rodney Gilfry, Deon van der Walt, et al. Production of the Zurich Opera. Zurich Opera’s Orchestra La Scintilla, cond. William Christie. Kultur.

Mourning Becomes Electra. Film based on Eugene O’Neill’s play, with a stellar cast directed by Dudley Nichols. Image Entertainment. Flawed yet compelling, particularly for the grand performances of Katina Paxinou and Michael Redgrave, but even the miscast Rosalind Russell has something to offer.

———. A TV production of O’Neill’s play. Bruce Davison, Joan Hackett, Roberta Maxwell, et al. Directed by Nick Havinga. Broadway Theatre Archive. Worth investigating, but its modern, naturalistic approach runs counter to the intensity of O’Neill’s masterpiece.

———. Based on Eugene O’Neill’s play. Image Entertainment. Flawed yet compelling, particularly for the performances of Katina Paxinou, Michael Redgrave, and even the miscast Rosalind Russell.

Oresteia. Films for the Humanities offers a series of four videos, entitled The Greeks, originally produced for television: The Greek Beginning; The Classical Age; Heroes and Men; The Minds of Men. Part 3, Heroes and Men, contains crucial scenes from the Oresteia, which are worth investigating, especially for the portrayal of Clytemnestra.

Time Bandits. Film. John Cleese et al. Directed by Terry Gilliam. One of the sequences in this fantasy movie is an episode with Sean Connery playing Agamemnon. Special edition. Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Oresteia. Films for the Humanities ADS900. The National Theater of Great Britain, directed by Peter Hall. The use of masks is interesting, and this important production is worth seeing, althought the delivery of the rhyming translation at times verges on the monotonous.

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