Emerging from the Oppresive Shadow of Myth: Orestes in Sartre, Ritsos, and Aeschylus
In this article I compare Orestes by Yannis Ritsos and The Flies by Jean-Paul Sartre with Aeschylus’s Choephori. In Ritsos’s and Sartre’s works, written in a context of censorship and political oppression, a problematic relationship with the past weighs on the protagonist to the extent that he desires to free himself from it. The contemporary Orestes detaches himself from the path set out by a usurping power belonging to the past, a path used to manipulate individuals and to block the way to freedom. In Ritsos’s Orestes the speaker breaks from the ideal of antiquity, while in The Flies, it is not the past but rather the present circumstances that motivate Orestes to act freely. I read the protagonist’s problematic relationship with the past as a mise en abîme of the critical distance of one (re)writing in relation to another and I compare all three texts from the point of view of the singular relationship maintained by the protagonist with his past.