Orestes (myth)

   In Greek mythology, Orestes was the son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, king and queen of Mycenae. When Aga­memnon returned from the Trojan War, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus laid a plan to murder him and his son. They were suc­cessful so far as Agamemnon was con­cerned, but Orestes was saved by his sister Electra, who had him carried secretly to his uncle Strophius. When grown to man­hood, Orestes returned to Mycenae and avenged his father's death by slaying both Aegisthus and Clytemnestra. Orestes, though he had been advised by an oracle to take his mother's life, was, in consequence of the deed, driven frantic by the Furies and pursued from land to land. At length he was directed by an oracle to bring from Tauris in Scythia a statue of Artemis, said to have fallen from heaven. Accompanied by Pylades, his cousin, who had been his faithful companion, he went to Tauris. The people of this place were in the habit of sacrificing strangers, who fell in their way, to the goddess. Orestes and Pylades were seized, bound, and borne to the temple. But the priestess of the temple was Iphigenia, Orestes' sister, who had years be­fore been snatched from death on the altar by Artemis. Iphigenia saved the prisoners from death and all three returned to My­cenae. Orestes was at last purified of his sin by Minerva and relieved from the per­secution of the Furies. Both Sophocles and Euripides have used this story for the sub­ject of tragedies.