Sample Philosophy Paper on Patterns of Images in Aeschylus’ Oresteia and in Plato’s Republic


            Poets Aeschylus of the Oresteia and philosopher Plato in the Republic try to give an account of how justice came into existence in the human society or polis. Aeschylus and Plato present their opinions on how justice came into existence in the community in completely different ways. Aeschylus gives an account of this evolution through and individual grounds, where the actions of individuals represent different features in the rising of justice in the community. In that idea of individual actions, it will bring together it will show how justice came into existence. Plato on the hand takes a different approach. Plato takes the existence of justice in the society and compares it to individual justice existence. This paper will try to compare and contrast the two perspectives.



Aeschylus gave different patterns of an image to describe how justice came into existence in the community or polis, images he used include, light and dark, hunting, tapestries and nets, animals (snakes, deer, birds), blood and family ties.

Aeschylus use of light darkness as a constant image in the Oresteia shows a development from evil to goodness, from disorderly ways to orderly ways. In the Oresteia, a situation exists humans which have gone out of control, in the house of Atreus the rate of deaths has risen. In the story a divine disorder also exists among mortals which have to be resolved: the wraths, a generation which is older, are in disagreement with the Olympian gods who are younger because they have been refused ancient rights to avenge the deaths of their family members. In the Oresteia, two parallel conflicts are presented, in which both of them must be resolved if harmony is desired. As it is expected conflicts always have resolutions, and the images of light and dark accompany the progression and hence putting emphasis on movement from evil to good.

Use of darkness imagery is used in one example of Agamemnon. First play of the trilogy, it depicts the cycle of death beginning with the murder of Thyestes’ children and continued with the murder of Agamemnon and Cassandra by Clytaemestra. Darkness present in the beginning of the story is more expanded by Agamemnon death. It is shown when Clytaemestra says, “Thus he [Agamemnon] went down, and the life struggled out of him; and as he died he spattered me with the dark red and violent driven rain of bitter savored blood” (lines 1388-1390).in this incidence she has murdered her husband thus the image of dark blood. Darkness is illustrative of evil which has entered the house of Atreus and persisted with the murder of Agamemnon. Aeschylus shows that through this murder it was nothing else but pure murder and as long as these incidences occur darkness will not leave the house of Atreus it will only continue to emerge. Light has not yet been seen in the Oresteia.

Light begins to progress in second play of the trilogy, The Libation Bearers. Orestes is the beacon signaling end of evil in the house of Atreus Orestes avenges his father’s death by killing Clytaemestra his mother. Darkness is expected from such an act but Aeschylus provides Orestes with a defense for his actions in form of an oracle from Apollo. Orestes fails killing differ from how his mother killing because it can be seen as a greater crime because of blood ties Aeschylus must include the order from Apollo who is the god of light. With the support from Apollo Orestes is beginning goodness and order in the Oresteia.

In the net imagery, a net is an essential metaphor that is depicted in the Oresteia. It used to show confusion, treason, and entrapment. Nets’ joining powers connects them with snakes, in which its victims die from being strangled to death. In a vision, Cassandra saw Clytaemnestra herself surrounding her prey.

In the imagery of animals dog and lion is used. External motivation is associated with the dog, and the lion divides characters into crimes and same family committing crimes against each other. ‘A great Ox stands on my tongue’ this shows oppression that the sentry cannot speak for himself because of fear, instead, the house speaks for itself. The eagle is used to as comparison to Agamemnon.

Patterns of images or metaphors used by Plato were the metaphor of the sun, the line, and of the cave. In the metaphor of the sun, Plato explains that reality is made clear just as the sun makes visibility of things to the eye so is the light truth and being indifference to the dawn of becoming and perishing. Metaphor of the line, it is presented by Plato in the Republic. A line is divided into two and bisecting the line into four segments. Socrates explains that the four segments represents four affections of psyche. Lower sections represent the visible while the higher represents the intelligible. The affections are increasing levels of truth and reality from speculating to belief and understanding. The metaphor of the cave, in this allegory Plato compares people who are amateurs to prisoners who are chained in caves and are not even to turn their heads. All that is visible to their eyes is the all of the caves and behind them, there is a fire burning.



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