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The Libation Bearers

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Quotes

Important Quotes Explained

Quotes Important Quotes Explained

Such oracles are persuasive, don't you think? And even if I am not convinced, the rough work of the world is still to do. So many yearnings meet and urge me on (lines 297–299)

This passage comes at the end of Orestes's explanation for why he has returned again to Argos. Standing at Agamemnon's grave with Electra and the chorus, Orestes describes how Apollo sent an oracle commanding him to return home to avenge his father's death. If he should refuse, he would suffer horrible diseases and exile from every human community. His description is vivid and horrifying, enough to convince anyone to do the god's bidding.

However, Orestes explains that other reasons have motivated his return besides Apollo's threats. His sorrow for his father, his poverty, and his anger over Aigisthos's usurpation of his father's throne. This distinction between different motivations proves to be crucial at the climax of the play, when suddenly all of Orestes's resolve disappears just as he is about to kill Clytamnestra. While his personal reasons for seeking vengeance drive his actions through most of the play, it is Apollo's command that forces him to complete the deed. This is significant because it shows that while Orestes was willing to take personal responsibility for his matricide, his actual motivation at the moment of the murder comes from a divine source. Because Apollo was responsible for the actual crime being carried out, he will protect Orestes from the Furies when they come to claim their retribution in the Eumenides.