Aeschylus’s play Libation Bearers begins some years after the murder of Agamemnon, the king of Argos. Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, has come to Argos from exile to avenge the death of his father. Agamemnon’s murderer is his wife, Clytemnestra, which is also Orestes mother. Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus, killed Agamemnon for sacrificing their daughter, Iphigenia, to the gods. After Orestes gives an offering to the river of Argos and Agamemnon, he sees Electra, his sister, approaching Agamemnon’s tomb with her slaves. Orestes and Pylades, Orestes’s friend, go into hiding while Electra approaches the tomb. Electra has come to Agamemnon’s grave to make libations, or offerings, on behalf of Clytemnestra. However, Electra does not know what to say on behalf of Clytemnestra, so she asks the Chorus, the slave women, for advice. They pray for Orestes to come back.
While Electra and her slaves are praying, Orestes and Pylades appear from the trees. Orestes reveals that the oracle of Apollo told him that he needed to go back to Argos and avenge Agamemnon. Then, Orestes, Electra, and the Chorus sing and chant to Agamemnon asking for help and justification for their revenge against his murderers. Orestes then discovers that Clytemnestra had a nightmare that she gave birth to a snake, and when she fed it, the snake drew blood along with the milk. Orestes devises a plan to kill Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. Orestes sends Electra back to the palace, and advises the Chorus to help when he enters the palace. Orestes and Pylades enter the palace’s gate and knock on the imposing door. They wait until Clytemnestra opens the door, and Orestes says that he is a traveler from Parnassus and his message is that Orestes has died. Clytemnestra acts as if she was sad, and allows the boys to stay the night.
The Chorus and Orestes’s old nurse discuss Orestes’s death, and the Nurse goes to retrieve Aegisthus and ensure that he comes alone. Soon, Aegisthus arrives to discover Orestes waiting for him. Orestes takes the opportunity and kills Aegisthus. A slave then runs out of the room screaming that Aegisthus has been murdered. This draws Clytemnestra to the room, and then Orestes and Pylades appear. Orestes is about to kill his mother, but her words make him hesitate. Pylades urges Orestes to kill his mother, and Orestes takes her to the palace and kills her. Orestes then opens the palace doors to reveal the two dead bodies of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. Orestes instructs the slaves to cover their bodies with the net they used to immobilize Agamemnon as they killed him. Soon after, Orestes begins to go crazy believing that the Furies are pursuing him. The Chorus tries to calm him down, but they do not succeed. Orestes then runs off to Delphi to be purified.
In Aeschylus’s play Libation Bearers, there are several references to Greek gods; however, the most significant Greek gods are Apollo and...