Kinship and Politics

Published: 2021-07-29 14:00:06
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Category: Politics

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In reading Aeschylus’s Eumenides, I found the great progress from the revenge between the bloods to the set up of the civil court. It illustrates us the foundation of establishment of orders for Greek people’s new life by showing the fight between the old gods and the new gods’ attitudes towards the murder case of Clytaemestra, with the arguments which mainly focus on kinship and then the civilization. The central theme of this play is the interests and conflicts which were shown during the long debate and words fight between opposites, and the reconciliation of the plaintiff and the defendant.
The text shows the relationship between kinship and politics by several arguments among the Furies, Apollo and Athena, who defines “kinship” in different ways. Apollo: What about a wife who kills her husband? Chorus Leader: That’s not blood murder in the family. Furies claims that husband and wife are not kin, which indicates the kinship is the foundation stone for the human society so that the Furies choose not to pursue after Clytaemestra who killed her husband. But Apollo rejects this view by saying that husband and wife are not kin is to “dishonor and annul the marriage bond. Then Apollo quoted Zeus and Hera’s name to counter back because according to what I have read from Hesiod’s Theogony, Zeus and Hera is not only in a marriage relationship, but also they have blood bonds that Hera is the sister of Zeus. What Apollo said has passed important information to us that the whole society bases mainly on blood relationship, i. e. kinship as mentioned here, but it does not only base on blood bonds, but also it is established and thus governed by the chain of social laws.
He implied here that Zeus would choose to stand by their side considering of Clytaemestra’s death and described the situation how Agamemnon was killed to death. Paternal rights were mentioned by Apollo, said that the father, by whom the life seed is planted, is the only true parent. Apollo here represents the male, the young, the powerful and rational while the Furies represent the opposite which is the female, the violent, the old, and the primal. Throughout the argument in Athena’s court, the meaning is clear that at that moment, the society was controlled by male, if more specifically, male gods, say, Zeus.
Also It is obviously a very great and meaningful step for human in the civilization history that the old, kinship-based system is not preferable at this stage and an advanced human society system should be created in which different bonds such as bonds between husbands and wives should be recognized and honored, compared to the biological kinship. Moreover, the Eumenides also has more significant political meanings, it again stresses the importance of male patriarchy and also it provides certain means to solve the conflicts between the old justice system and the new justice system, which each represented old gods and new gods.
Athena brought in a new trial system, the introduction of jury, although she still respected that the male should be honored above all else for the sake of that she was born from Zeus’s thigh without any women’s distribution. Athena respects men above all else and so supports Orestes. We can have a look at texts below No mother gave me birth. I honor the male, in all things but marriage. Yes, with all my heart I am my Father’s child. I cannot set more stores by the woman’s death. She killed her husband, guardian of their house.
Even if the vote is equal, Orestes wins. These texts provide Apollo and Athena the materials that they found evidences to support the thought of not guilty of Orestes. The violence in the old system has fallen to a continuing circle which forced the gods to find out a settlement of a new system of justice, in which the moral conflicts and disputes would fairly be resolved. The gods themselves could not judge cases, or else the world would be caught in the crossfire of the gods as it had during the Trojan War
Thus, in the demand of the new system, the settlement at the end illustrates the relationship between kinship and politics, which is that the establishment of court and the introduction of jury has its own political influence. On the other hand, when the jury cannot achieve the same opinions, the kinship will be considered as an important factor as Apollo had mentioned several times the Father, Zeus when the Furies argued against him and also, this is the primary reason why Athena chose to stand by Orestes’ side. Also, Athena’s attitude towards the Furies represents the great author, Aeschylus’ thought towards the feminine appeal.
In the author’s time, the society advocates man’s power, represented by Zeus and Apollo, etc. Thus, it can be found easily in the text that Apollo shows direct disgust to the Furies because he thinks them as brutal and evil. Among them, Athena guards Athens and Athena herself is a symbol for that kind of reconciliation. She is female, but she is also a warrior. In the play, under the author’s pen, she entered the stage dressing in armor that covered her entire body. She has the same advantage as her brother, Apollo, rationality. But She acts ore smarter that she does not show any disgust in the conversation with the Furies since she is also compassionate. She is woman, but in terms of her birth, she is a bit different from others since her father gave the birth to her: according to Theogony, she jumped out from her father’s skull. I understand the description of Athena by the author as he wanted to demonstrate to the reader that although he thought it was an era of male-leading, kinship-based society, but he also understood that this complexity is exactly the reason why it is necessary to set up courts for the purpose of the pursuit of justice.
To evaluate and make the right decisions in the complicated circumstances in Orestes’ case requires big wisdom. In terms of the opinion above, to a great extent, the set-up of the Aegeus court is to involve ordinary people into the trial, to judge for themselves, rather than ask for gods’ intension or simply do everything as they wish, say, meaningless violence cycle. The author tries to find a way to establish a comparative just system, replacing the old system of simple blood relationship.
The author also borrows gods’ hand to express the willing to set the foundation of new life orders. The play ended in happiness and harmony to the Oresteia. In conclusion, the debate among Athena, Apollo and the Furies about Orestes killing his mother shows the reality that it is difficult to assess a man’s innocence or guilt. The fact that the House of Atreus has once lost its control on murders and violence is a good but critical lesson to all of us. Without recourse to courts, vengeance is the way to try to get justice.
This play provides the solution of the establishment of a court to homicides and family disputes in the end. Civilization, as well as rationality will provide a way to put violence under control and dispense justice. The political meaning here is that gods and men work together to set up a formal place where judges and jurors can weigh and make decisions on murder cases correctly and justly rather than subjectively judged by kinship which would be too thoughtlessly.

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