- Old Man
Agamemnon, the King of Mycenae has come back from the Trojan War. Meanwhile his wife, Clytemnestra has taken a lover, Aegisthus. The two lovers conspire to take the throne for themselves and kill Agamemnon.
Agamemnon has three children from Clytemnestra - Chrysothemis, a timid and content daughter, Electra, strong and true and Orestes, a mere baby boy. Upon learning of her father’s murder, Electra safes Orestes by giving him away to be reared elsewhere and to eventually come and avenge their father.
Many years later, Electra and Chrysothemis are living with their father’s murderers. While Chrysothemis has quietly adjusted, Electra’s life is that of a slave, mocked for her ongoing grief. The docile sister worries for her brazen one, for she has heard that Aegisthus will not suffer Electra’s moaning much longer.
Upon being asked, Clytemnestra admits to the murder of Agamemnon but claims her reasons were pure.
Prior to his murder, Agamemnon sacrificed a third daughter to the goddess Artemis, without seeking counsel from his wife.
Electra believes none of it; she is convinced her mother is a power-hungry traitor.
Meanwhile, Orestes has grown up. With the help of an old retainer of his father, he devises a plan to avenge his sire. He sends the old man with words of his own death.
Interestingly, Clytemnestra’s reaction is not as straightforward as Electra’s lament had one believe. She is relieved to not be threatened anymore but has motherly feelings still.
Orestes, his friend and the old man are now playing out their ruse. Under the guise of otherness, the ride to deliver an urn holding the supposed remains of Orestes. Before the palace, Orestes meets Electra - neither recognizes the other.
Once Electra weeps for her dead brother, Orestes reveals himself to her. Now overjoyed, the go forth with their plan. Orestes and his friend enter the palace and slay Clytemnestra.
Shortly thereafter Aegisthus arrives back, is presented with a shrouded corpse he believes to be Orestes and is to find that the body is in fact his lover.
The story ends with Orestes leading Aegisthus away to be murdered also and the reader is left with the uncomfortable feeling of an eye for an eye.
“His red hand dripping as he moves
With drops of sacrifice the War-god loves.
My ‘wildered heart is dumb.”