Printer Friendly

Orestes and the Light of Day.

Ancient representations of Orestes drew upon earlier portraits and myths, now largely vanished in the dark backward and abysm of time. In the Odyssey, Odysseus, unlike Agamemnon, returns home to his faithful wife Penelope, unlike Clytemnestra. Athena herself extols Orestes as a model for Telemachus to imitate:
(1.298-300; Or have you not heard what fame the noble Orestes won
among all mankind when he slew his father's murderer, the guileful
Aegisthus, because he slew his glorious father?) (1)

Hesiod makes the first direct reference to the killing of Clytemnestra (Catalogue Fragment 19). (2) The surviving fragments of Stesichorus's Oresteia emphasize the treachery involved in the sacrifice of Iphigeneia and Clytemnestra's ominous dream of a snake. (3) Aristophanes's joke about a drunk or mad Orestes knocking someone on the head (Acharnians 1166-68) obviously refers to a well-known fifth-century stage figure. (4) In eight plays, the Greek tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides bequeathed a rich legacy of poetry, drama, and myth to the West. Later, Latin playwrights Ennius, Pacuvius, Naevius, and Accius all wrote tragedies, now lost, that appear to have dramatized some aspect of the Orestes mythos. Vergil compared the raging Dido to Orestesfurens, again referring to the familiar stage figure, scaenis agitatus Orestes (Aeneid 4.471). (5)

Such depictions came to new life in humanist publication and in European vernaculars. The figure of Orestes became a familiar and flexible signifier in contexts far removed from its mythic origins, especially in early modern England. (6) Since Gilbert Murray's seminal 1914 British Academy lecture "Orestes and Hamlet," scholars have seen Orestes as a mythic prototype for Shakespeare. (7) Recent work by Louise Schleiner, A. D. Nuttall, and Tanya Pollard, along with an issue of Classical Receptions Journal devoted to the topic, argue for more and more precise connections between Greek tragedy and the Elizabethan stage through Latin intermediaries and publication of Greek editions, as well as adaptations, redactions, references, and translations. (8) More specifically, scholars have argued for connections between Aeschylus and Macbeth: concentrating on imagery and situation, John Churton Collins drew parallels between the Oresteia and Macbeth in 1904, as did Earl Showerman in 2011. (9) Prophetically pointing to this special issue, Adrian Poole entitled a chapter of Tragedy: Shakespeare and the Greek Example, "'The Initiate Fear': Aeschylus, Shakespeare" in which he wrote: "Fear takes many diverse forms and Aeschylean tragedy is uniquely rich in its power to represent fear, its symptoms, sources, objects and consequences. Macbeth is in this sense Shakespeare's most Aeschylean tragedy." (10) We do not have to argue for sources in the conventional sense, succumbing to a fallacy of misplaced specification, in order to recognize deep affinities and even deeper differences.

The Tyrants: Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, and Macbeth

In the Agamemnon, Alan H. Sommerstein notes, Aeschylus appears to have expanded Clytemnestra's role with some significant innovations, notably her portrayal as a dominant and masculine woman, and her killing of her husband alone with no assistance. (11) Horrified by the murder, the Chorus reads it as a tyrannical action and blames Clytemnestra and Aegisthus:
(1354-55; At the outset they give the signs of a tyrant to the city)

Aegisthus later threatens them but the Argive elders stand firm in opposition:
(1633-35; So you think you will be the tyrant over the Argives, you
who, after you had planned the murder, did not dare to do the deed
with your own hands!)

They refuse to grant to Clytemnestra or Aegisthus the title [phrase omitted] (1633), here meaning ruler, with the distinct suggestion of [phrase omitted] "devourer of the people."

Contrarily, after the murder of Duncan, the language and action of Shakespeare's Macbeth insistently brand the usurper as a tyrant, this word echoing no fewer than sixteen times in the second half of the play. (13) Lennox remarks Macduff's absence from "the tyrant's feast" (3.6.22); the Lord says, "this tyrant holds the due of birth" (3.6.25) from Duncan's son. This son, Malcolm, says Macbeth's "sole name" of tyrant "blisters our tongues" (4.3.12) and resolves to "tread upon the tyrant's head" (45). Like the archetypal tyrant of the morality play, Herod the King, the tyrannical Macbeth orders the massacre of the innocents--Macduff's children--onstage. Macduff calls Macbeth "an untitled tyrant bloody-sceptred" (4.3.104), neatly alluding to both his unlawful entrance (by assassination) and vicious practice (the subsequent murders), the two classic criteria for tyranny. "Tyrant, show thy face" (5.7.15), he calls out before the final confrontation. He threatens to display Macbeth's picture on a pole with the legend "Here may you see the tyrant" (5.8.27). At the conclusion Malcolm resolves to call home from exile friends who "fled the snares of watchful tyranny, / Producing forth the cruel ministers / Of this dead butcher, and his fiend-like queen" (5.9.33-35).

Shakespeare draws also on medieval and Senecan traditions to characterize Macbeth as a tyrant. In the morality plays, Herod the Great massacred the Holy Innocents, thus providing later ages with the archetypal tyrannical action: child-killing. Senecan protagonists like Atreus, Hercules Furens, and Medea, driven by colossal rages and passions, provided other associated depictions of kindermord. Macbeth attempts to kill Fleance, orders the wholly gratuitous murders of Macduff's children, depicted onstage, and slays Young Siward. The imagery of dead offspring haunts the play. The witches throw into their infernal cauldron "Finger of birth-strangled babe / Ditch-delivered by a drab" and "sow's blood that hath eaten / Her nine farrow" (4.1.30-31, 63-64). Lady Macbeth utters these terrifying lines:
I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked the nipple from his boneless gums,
And dashed his brains out, had I so sworn
As you have done to this. (1.7.54-9)

The actions and images of child-killing characterize the reign of the Macbeths as tyrannical.

Shakespeare has a specific reason for this insistent emphasis. In an age that required licenses for printed plays, punished playwrights for dramatizing sedition, and demanded obedience to the king, the play stages not one but two king-killings. Dangerously, the drama asks that we condemn the murder of King Duncan and, with equal conviction, applaud the murder of King Macbeth. To insure both the condemnation and the applause, Shakespeare suppresses Holinshed's notice of Duncan's inadequacies, Macbeths possible claim to the crown, and his years of just rule. He portrays the first regicide as a monstrous rebellion, in accordance with the official teaching that subjects owed unquestioning obedience to their God-appointed rulers. An Homily against Disobedience and Willful Rebellion (1570), read from the pulpits, articulated this doctrine of passive obedience, as did Banquos descendant, King James I, proponent of the divine right of kings. To portray the second regicide as virtuous restoration, Shakespeare denies Macbeth the dignity of a public coronation scene; he portrays him not as a king but as a tyrant, a ruler who by unlawful entrance and vicious practice forfeited the rights of sovereignty. So doing, he draws upon contemporary resistance theory, which held that citizens owe obedience to kings but not to tyrants, and, furthermore, that tyrants may licitly be deposed. (14)

Many treatises outlined the differences between kings and tyrants, and Shakespeare probed this issue in his history plays and tragedies, especially the earlier tyrant plays Julius Caesar and Richard III. Tyrants ruled by fear and lived in fear, as a host of other writers, including St. Thomas Aquinas in De regimine principum, explained. Aeschylus too makes this clear. Early on, the Chorus of Libation-Bearers strikes the keynote with its cryptic observation, "[phrase omitted]" (57-58; someone is afraid [that is, the rulers, the people, or most likely both]). Electra complains that she has been shut up in the house "like a baneful dog" (446; [phrase omitted] [phrase omitted]). During the play, Clytemnestra desperately sends drink offerings because she is "shaken by dreams and the rousing terrors of the night" (523-[phrase omitted]). The prophetic vision of giving birth to the serpent terrifies her.

Aegisthus covers his fear with bluster. When the Chorus objects to the murder, he fumes and bullies, but the specter of reprisal in the person of Orestes hangs ominously in the air, evoked by the Choral question, "[phrase omitted]" (Ag. 1646; Does Orestes still somewhere see the light of day?). (Orestes himself later uses this phrase to refer to the possibility of acquittal by the Athenian jury in Eumenides: "[phrase omitted] [phrase omitted]"; 746; Now I end by hanging or by seeing the light of day.) The tyrant Aegisthus threatens the Chorus: "[phrase omitted] [phrase omitted]" (Ag. 1666; But I shall still be among you in days to come). The Chorus answers, "[phrase omitted]' [phrase omitted]" (1667; Not if a god guides Orestes to return here). Aegisthus's fear is evident again in Libation-Bearers in the form of his brisk and fatal determination to find out if Orestes is truly dead: "[phrase omitted] [phrase omitted]" (854; He will certainly not hide from a sharp-seeing mind), the ruler says, as he goes into the palace where Orestes waits.

Macbeth too lives in the tyrant's fear. Like Clytemnestra, he sleeps "in the affliction of these terrible dreams / That shake us nightly" (3.2.19-20). Like Aegisthus, he blusters and bullies, abusing the young messenger:
Go prick thy face, and over-red thy fear,
Thou lily-livered boy. What soldiers, patch?
Death of thy soul, those linen cheeks of thine
Are counsellors to fear. What soldiers, whey-face? (5.3.14-17)

Relying on the witches' juggling prophecy, he masks his own terror with loud bravado:
Bring me no more reports, let them fly all;
Till Birnam Wood remove to Dunsinane,
I cannot taint with fear. What's the boy Malcolm?
Was he not born of woman? (5.3.1-4)

In quieter moments, he reveals the gnawing anxiety and dread of the very consequences he sought to trammel up:
Our fears in Banquo stick deep,
And in his royalty of nature reigns that
Which would be feared. (3.1.48-50)

Hearing of Fleance's escape, he reveals himself to be imprisoned by relentless anxiety:
But now I am cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in
To saucy doubts and fears. (3.4.22-23)

He knows that fear will be a permanent condition of his life, the life of a tyrant:
My strange and self-abuse
Is the initiate fear, that wants hard use.
We are yet but young in deed. (3.4.140-2)

Both the ancient and modern tyrants live in perpetual fear of the coming reckoning.

Revengers: Orestes, Malcolm, and Macduff

The choral question about Orestes and the light of day culminates a series of references to the absent son in Agamemnon. Cassandra, in fact, precisely predicts Orestes's revenge:
(1279-81; Nevertheless, we shall die dishonored by the gods. There
will come anew another to restore honor, a mother-killing son and
avenger of his father)

Orestes returns to requite his father's murder by the tyrants, his mother Clytemnestra and uncle Aegisthus.

Cassandra's prediction above characterizes Orestes as acting at the behest of the gods ([phrase omitted]). But, of course, Clytemnestra had claimed as much for herself, swearing an oath: [phrase omitted] [phrase omitted] (Ag. 1432-33; by Justice exacted for my child, by Ruin, and by the Fury, with all of whom I slaughtered him). At one point, she even claimed to be an avenging spirit incarnate:
(1500-2; The ancient, fierce avenging spirit of Atreus, the lord of
the horrid banquet, has taken the form of this corpse's wife)

The Chorus in Agamemnon cries that all the tragic events unfold "[phrase omitted] [phrase omitted]" (1485-86; by Zeus, the all-effecting cause of all things). On Orestes's behalf, they invoke the Fates, Zeus, Justice, and the Fury (LB 306ff., 646ff.). Orestes himself mentions a specific divine mandate for his revenge, the oracle of Loxias (Apollo):
(LB 269-74; The mighty oracle of Loxias will surely not betray me: it
ordered me to drive through this danger, crying aloud many things, and
predicting winter storms of ruin upon my hot heart, if I did not
pursue those guilty of my father's death and serve them their turn,
meaning, kill them in revenge)

He also mentions the gods below, the Earth, and his father's tomb (LB 405ff; 540ff). When he hesitates to slay his mother, Pylades climactically reminds him of Apollo's command:
(LB 900-2; Then from now on what of Loxias's oracles delivered at
Pytho, and faithful, sworn oaths? Consider all things your enemies
rather than the gods!)

The dictates of the gods in the Oresteia, however, are inscrutable, baffling, and contradictory. Aeschylus portrays the action in a wide mythopoeic lens, depicting the crimes of the Tantalid house through several generations. Orestes will be damned if he does and damned if he does not (or more precisely, punished if he does and punished if he does not) revenge his father. Apollo commands the revenge at the behest of Zeus, who authorizes its punishment by the Erinyes. Orestes's oxymoronic polyptota concisely express his impossible predicament: "[phrase omitted] [phrase omitted]" (LB 461; Ares will clash with Ares, Justice with Justice). Clytemnestra warns him to beware his "mother's rancorous hounds" (924; [phrase omitted]); he replies, "But how shall I escape my fathers if I fail to do this?" (925;[phrase omitted] [phrase omitted]). Driven to madness, Orestes finally wins acquittal from Athena in the newly founded Athenian court, the Areopagus, and the Erinyes mysteriously become Eumenides, spirits of blessing.

Shakespeare expands and sophisticates the familial drama of revenge in Macbeth by presenting two returning avengers--Malcolm and Macduff. Like Orestes, Malcolm is the royal son who returns to avenge his father's death and to rescue his country from tyrannical rule. But unlike Orestes, he leads an army and does not confront the tyrant directly. Oddly, he shows little reaction to his father's death, subjects Macduff to the long, pretended recitation of his vices, and has no significant action in the final battles. Acting with "all the majesty of a linoleum floor," Brett Gamboa observes, Malcolm is "incapable of pleasing in the role assigned to him" and "prevented even from playing that role" of revenger and heir apparent by the sudden emergence of Young Siward and the prophecy assigning future rule to Banquo's line. (15) Instead Macduff, whose family Macbeth's henchmen have brutally murdered onstage, enacts the actual revenge. Fascinatingly, Shakespeare depicts the aggrieved husband and father, Macduff, as "anyone," as an ordinary, flawed man. Macduff makes the fatal error of leaving his wife and children unprotected (and Shakespeare emphasizes the mistake more than his source Holinshed); and, as one Royal Shakespeare Company actor who had played the role five times complained to me, he is usually ineloquent or silent. Discovering Duncan's murder, Macduff says, "Tongue nor heart cannot conceive nor name thee"; "Do not bid me speak" (2.3.64, 72). Later, Malcolm urges him, "Give sorrow words" (4.3.210). Confronting Macbeth, he says, "I have no words. / My voice is in my sword" (5.8.6-7). Macduff has no claim to fame except his birth by Caesarean section, but in the context of the child-killing in the play, this is qualification enough. After all, the witches' Second Apparition was a bloody child who warned Macbeth that "none of woman born" (4.1.79) could harm him. Macduff, "from his mother's womb / Untimely ripped" (5.8.15-16), ironically fulfills the prophecy and kills the child-killer.

That an ordinary, flawed man strikes down the seemingly invincible tyrant ratifies certain resistance theories that justified tyrannicide by the aggrieved citizen while providing a strikingly satisfying theatrical conclusion. But Macduff's triumph ultimately says more about the tyrant than the avenger. The avenger's powerful appearance and opening challenge, "Turn, hell-hound, turn" (5.8.3), elicits from Macbeth a telling moment of spiritual recognition:
Of all men else I have avoided thee.
But get thee back, my soul is too much charged
With blood of thine already. (5.8.4-6)

This elegiac moment of regret, stopping crucially short of contrition, reveals how much the moral universe in this play differs from that of the Oresteia. The tragedy of Macbeth occurs in a world far apart from that of the Atrean house; characters in this play live and die in a Christianized world, where the soul gets charged with the blood of victims, where hell and damnation await the sinner.

The play's language and imagery repeatedly insist on these cosmic realities. Lady Macbeth invokes "the dunnest smoke of hell" (1.5.51), but then recoils in horror at the opening abyss: "Hell is murky" (5.1.36). Actresses from Sarah Siddons (1781-1817) on to the present day have powerfully rendered her despair and moral collapse in the sleep-walking scene. In Trevor Nunn's 1976 production, Judi Dench terrified audiences with a long and despairing howl of anguish (fortunately captured for posterity in the later film version, 1979). Kate Fleetwood, starring in Rupert Goold's 2007 production with Patrick Stewart (television film, 2009), unleashed a more violent and frightened cry.

Macbeth himself recognizes the afterlife destinations as "heaven" or "hell" (2.1.64), and other characters point his way to the inferno; in fact, they seem to think he already resides there. The Porter of his castle thinks of turning the key to "Hell Gate" (2.3.2), swears "i'th name of Belzebub" (3-4), and imagines the "professions that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire" (18-19). Macduff exclaims, "Not in the legions / Of horrid hell can come a devil more damned / In evils to top Macbeth" (4.3.55-57). Young Siward says that, "The devil himself could not pronounce a title / More hateful" (5.7.8-9) to him than the name of Macbeth. (16) Banquo worries that the witches may be "instruments of darkness" (1.3.126) who win people to harm by telling half-truths. Many in contemporary audiences, including most vociferously James I himself, believed witches in fact to be devils or demonic agents. In a moving moment of insight, Macbeth recognizes that he has sold his soul to the devil, "mine eternal jewel / Given to the common enemy of man" (3.1.67-8). To convey this infernal vision in a 2010 open-air production, Lucy Bailey "refashioned the Globe into a Dantean vision of Hell: spectators in the yard stood beneath black sheeting, with their heads only protruding"; bloody, writhing bodies appeared through slits in the cloth, eerie music sounded, and Banquo's Ghost emerged bloody from a platter of roasted meats. (17)

The grim allusions to devils and hell everywhere oppose plentiful references to angels and heaven. Macbeth worries that Duncans virtues "Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against / The deep damnation of his taking off" (1.7.19-20). Lennox hopes "some holy angel" will fly to England so that "a swift blessing" may return to Scotland (3.6.46, 48). Malcolm says hopefully, "Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell" (4.3.22). Macbeth imagines Pity or "heavens cherubin, horsed / Upon the sightless couriers of the air" (1.7.22-3) blowing his horrid deed in every eye. Characteristically, the hero-villain himself most eloquently articulates the terms of his own spiritual plight and eventual damnation. There are no fewer than twenty references to heaven in the play, all pointing to a divine realm of justice and order far above the fallen world. Sometimes these take the form of unanswered prayer--for example, the Messenger's poignant farewell to the doomed Lady Macduff: "Heaven preserve you" (4.2.73), echoed in Macduff's anguished, "Did heaven look on, / And would not take their part?" (4.3.226-7). At other times, the heavens intervene spectacularly in human affairs. After the murder of Duncan, "the heavens, as troubled with man's act, / Threatens his bloody stage" (2.4.5-6) by darkening the earth in unnatural night. Lady Macbeth's sleep-walking prompts the Gentlewoman to observe, "Heaven knows what she has known" (5.1.49). And King Edward of England, Malcolm assures Macduff, has a "sanctity" given by "heaven" (4.3.144) to his hand so that he can heal the sick by touch. Moreover, this kingly antitype to hellhound Macbeth "hath a heavenly gift of prophecy, / And sundry blessings hang about his throne / That speak him full of grace" (4.3.157-59).

In this world, evil forces confront an almighty and omniscient God. Neither Macbeth nor Lady Macbeth can escape the consequences of the murder, as a striking theatrical effect of the 1611 Globe Theater production illustrates: Simon Forman, an eye-witness, reported that the blood on Macbeth's hands "could not be washed off by any means, nor from his wife's hands which handled the bloody daggers in hiding them. By which means they became both much amazed and affronted." (18) If Forman reports rightly, original audiences witnessed a powerful visual symbol of Providential moral order; strut and fret as they may, neither Macbeth nor Lady Macbeth can get away with murder. Rupert Goold re-appropriated that early modern stage symbol in his 2010 production: when Lady Macbeth (Kate Fleetwood) attempted to wash the blood from her hands in the basement bunker, the grimy faucet spewed a stream of red blood. This stream gave ocular proof to Macbeth's aphoristic reflection, "blood will have blood" (3.4.120), and confirmed his sense of the hidden natural forces that would not tolerate his crime:
Stones have been known to move, and trees to speak;
Augures, and understood relations, have
By maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth
The secret'st man of blood. (3.4.121-4).

The mix of legend and mirabilia here points to providential order: this world is ruled not by the capricious pagan gods (Apollo, Juno, and Zeus), but the just Judaeo-Christian God, who will return at the Last Judgment, the day of the great doom, when the dead arise (2.3.78-79). Noting the painted Last Judgment of the Guild chapel, replete with bodies rising from tombs, the dead, dying, and the damned cast into hell, Hannibal Hamlin has recently observed: "Macbeth is pervaded by such imagery of the Apocalypse and by allusions to Revelation and other apocalyptic prophecies in the Bible." (19)

This God figures centrally in Macbeth too, though the spectacle of the evil witches has often obscured in production and criticism the pervasive divine presence. Emphasis on this dark spectacle appeared early, in Thomas Middleton's probable insertion of the Hecate scenes before the First Folio (1623) and certainly in William Davenant's Restoration adaptation (1664). On such supernatural additions, Peter Holland comments aptly: "Macbeth as opera had no need to wait for Verdi and it was the witches that always enabled this financial triumph." (20) But throughout the play, various oaths and invocations to God insistently resound: "God save the King" (1.2.48), for example, and "God be with you" (3.1.43); this ironically from Macbeth himself to his intended victim Banquo. En route to killing Duncan, Macbeth hears a guard cry "God bless us" and another "Amen," and then he wonders pathetically why he cannot say "Amen" though he has "most need of blessing" (2.2.26-34). Banquo declares himself to stand "in the great hand of God" (2.3.131). Malcolm prefaces the revelation of his true nature to Macduff with a prayer, "God above / Deal between thee and me" (4.3.120-21). And witnessing Lady Macbeth's tortured deterioration, the Doctor prays significantly, "God, God forgive us all" (5.1.75). Orson Welles heard and amplified this music in his 1948 film version, often employing the symbol of the cross amidst the gnarled trees and stone of his primitive Scotland, adding a Holy Father to conduct a service against Satan and oppose the rising evil. So also, literally, did a very different director, Yukio Ninagawa, whose 1985 Macbeth opened and closed with Gabriel Faure's Sanctus, a moving musical rendition of the Eucharistic prayer in the Catholic mass.


Comparison of the tyrant's fear and the persons of the revenger in Aeschylus and Shakespeare points to distinctive features of the playwrights' art and their theologies. These differences notwithstanding, the Orestes who sees the light of day slays the tyrant and finally brings that light into the chaotic darkness of his cursed house; the opposing images of light and darkness pervade the trilogy from the opening beacon in Agamemnon, through the pleading in the choral odes and dark-robed Erinyes, to the final torch light procession. So too, mutatis mutandis, Macduff and Malcolm finally restore "wholesome days" (4.3.105) to a Scotland dominated by "black and deep desires" (1.4.51) and "seeling night" (3.2.47). The victories may be as fleeting as the dawn and dark violence may recur, but both the ancient and early modern dramas end with hard-won illumination.

It is certainly not necessary to posit the direct influence of Aeschylus on Shakespeare, but we may well note in conclusion that Macbeth certainly influenced Orestes, at least Thomas Goffe's university play, The Tragedy of Orestes (wr. 1613-18, pub. 1633), read or performed at Christ Church, Oxford. (21) Like Lady Macbeth, Goffe's Clytemnestra "feigns herself to swoon" (1.6) at a crucial moment in the action. Aegisthus and Clytemnestra appear on stage "in night-robe" (1.6) after murdering the king, pretending shock and horror, just as do Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. And as in Shakespeare's play, characters consult witches who speak an infernal tetrameter incantation and conjure a revelatory dumb show (3.6). But since Goffe's Orestes furens stabs a child on stage, forces the parents to drink the blood, and then stabs them, we may be relieved to learn that there are no records of performance or revival of the Jacobean slaughter house; not every Orestes needs to see the light of day.


(1) Homer, The Odyssey, trans. A. T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock, 2 vols., 2nd ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995).

(2) Hesiod, The Shield; Catalogue of Women; Other Fragments, ed. and trans. Glenn W. Most (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010).

(3) Stesichorus, The Poems, ed. M. Davies and P. J. Finglass (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 157-62.

(4) Aristophanes, Acharnians. Knights, ed. and trans. Jeffrey Henderson (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998).

(5) P. Vergili Maronis, Opera, ed. R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986).

(6) See Robert S. Miola, "Representing Orestes' Revenge," Classical Receptions journal 9 (2017): 144-65.

(7) Gilbert Murray, Hamlet and Orestes: A Study in Traditional Types (New York: Oxford University Press, 1914).

(8) Louise Schleiner, "Latinized Greek Drama in Shakespeare's Writing of Hamlet," Shakespeare Quarterly 41 (1990): 29-48; A. D. Nuttall, "Action at a Distance: Shakespeare and the Greeks," in Shakespeare and the Classics, ed. Charles Martindale and A. B. Taylor (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 209-22; Tanya Pollard, "What's Hecuba to Shakespeare?" Renaissance Quarterly 65 (2012): 1060-93; Tanya Pollard, "Greek Playbooks and Dramatic Forms in Early Modern England," in Formal Matters: Reading the Materials of English Renaissance Literature, ed. Allison K. Deutermann and Andras Kisery (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 99-123; "Homer and Greek Tragedy in Early Modern England's Theatres," ed. Tania Demetriou and Tanya Pollard, special issue, Classical Receptions Journal 9, no. 1 (2017).

(9) John Churton Collins, Studies in Shakespeare (Westminster: Archibald Constable, 1904), 72-3, 87; Earl Showerman, "Shakespeare's Greater Greek: Macbeth and Aeschylus' Oresteia," Brief Chronicles 3 (2011): 37-70.

(10) Adrian Poole, Tragedy: Shakespeare and the Greek Example (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987), 15. " Alan H. Sommerstein, introduction to Aeschylus Oresteia: Agamemnon, Libation-Bearers, Eumenides, ed. and trans. Alan H. Sommerstein (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 2008), xi.

(12) Aeschyli septem quae supersunt tragoedias, ed. Denys Page (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972). I have used this edition for all references to Aeschylus though I have chosen to use subscripts and regular and final sigmas in place of lunate sigmas. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.

(13) For all references to the play, I have used William Shakespeare, Macbeth, ed. Sandra Clark and Pamela Mason, Arden Shakespeare, 3rd ser. (London: Thomson Learning, 2015).

(14) See Robert S. Miola, "Julius Caesar and the Tyrannicide Debate," Renaissance Quarterly 38 (1985): 271-89.

(15) Brett Gamboa, "Dwelling 'in doubtful joy': Macbeth and the Aesthetics of Disappointment," in Macbeth: The State of Play, ed. Ann Thompson, Arden Shakespeare (London: Thomson Learning, 2014), 50.

(16) On references to the devil and the demonic in the play, see Ewan Fernie, "Another Golgotha," in Shakespeare and Early Modern Religion, ed. David Loewenstein and Michael Witmore (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2015), 172-90.

(17) Lucy Munro, "Shakespeare's Tragedies in Performance," in The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy, ed. Claire McEachern (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 282.

(18) Shakespeare Documented; "Forman's account of seeing plays at the Globe: Macbeth, Cymbeline, Winter's Tale"; modern transcription; image 6, fol. 207r., accessed August 9, 2017, http://

(19) Hannibal Hamlin, The Bible in Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 272. The play, he argues (276-304), contains over a half a dozen allusions to Revelation, interwoven with references to the Crucifixion, Psalms, Old Testament and wisdom literature, and the witch of Endor story from 1 Samuel.

(20) Peter Holland, "Performing Shakespearean Tragedy, 1660-1780," in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespearean Tragedy, ed. Michael Neill and David Schalkwyk (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 514.

(21) Thomas Goffe, The Tragedy of Orestes (London, I. B., 1633); A.W. Pollard and OR. Redgrave, ed., A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland and Ireland, and of English Books Printed Abroad 1475-1640. 2nd ed., rev. by W. A. Jackson, F.S. Ferguson, and K. F. Pantzer, 3 vols (London: Bibliographical Society, 1976-1991), 11982.

Loyola University Maryland

[Please note: Some non-Latin characters were omitted from this article]
COPYRIGHT 2017 Comparative Drama
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2017 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Miola, Robert S.
Publication:Comparative Drama
Article Type:Critical essay
Date:Dec 22, 2017
Previous Article:When the King Suffers What the Tyrant Fears: The Disruption of Political Order in Euripides's Electra and Orestes.
Next Article:Introduction: The Tyrant's Fear.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |