Essay on The Breaking Of Familial Ties

925 Words Oct 4th, 2016 4 Pages
The Breaking of Familial Ties
In Arlene W. Saxonhouse’s essay, “Founding vs. Constitution: Ancient Tragedy and The Origins of Political Community”, Saxonhouse argues that while ancient civilizations often could not employ the language for constitutions, in the founding of Athens, The Oresteia, a play by Aeschylus, the people clearly state a foundation for this new city. The foundation they set, Saxonhouse asserts, is one where the familial ties must be suppressed in favor of working towards a better society for the citizens of Athens. This is clearly supported through the trial set forth by Athena, the speech given by Apollo during the trial, and the slow deconstruction of Orestes’ family throughout The Oresteia.
The argument set forth by Saxonhouse, describes a society envisioned by Aeschylus while the actual Athens was being founded, where its citizens move past the ancient traditions that focused on protecting one’s family, to a society that relied upon its citizens to protect the city first, then the family. This separation of family and state, is first shown in the breaking down of Orestes’ family; where justice starts to take precedence over the preservation of family. This occurs in “Agamemnon”, when Clytemnestra executes her own husband, in retaliation for his murder of their daughter, so he could win the favor of the gods to protect his army on the way to Troy. In murdering their daughter, Agamemnon, begins the distancing of family from state affairs, as he chooses…

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