As much as I enjoyed Agamemnon, I found The Libation Bearers tedious. 90% of the play is a long lamentation by Electra, the Chorus, and Orestes about how terrible Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus acted in murdering Agamemnon, how horrible their own lives have been since, and how deserved their revenge will be. After going on endlessly in that vein, Orestes kills them both without much ado (not that I expected or needed a brutal murder scene on-stage, but everything “happens” in the last 175 of the play’s nearly 1100 lines) and proclaims to all that justice has been done. Of course the Chorus– and thus we– know better.
It’s amazing to me that the slack lines of The Libation Bearers were written by the same man who authored the almost unbearably tense, lyric, and powerful words of Agamemnon. Considering its place in the trilogy, I guess even the ancients had a hard time with middle acts.
Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood at the right time. In the abstract, divorced from feeling any real emotion about them, I recognize that there’s a fair amount of complexity in the play in the form of both the array of symbols (the robes/nets, the serpents, the opposition of light and dark) and themes (the seemingly unending cycle of violence and required revenge, Orestes duty to both Clytaemestra and Agamemnon and his brave acceptance of his own fate as it is played out between two factions of the Gods), but the play didn’t make me feel them.