Oresthis Purana

Synopsis Some of the main themes explored by Greek Tragedies are the Concept of State and the Disputes between Statuses. These frictions sometimes surface as a physical tussle and sometimes become a struggle between representative mindsets. On one side we have pre-civilized, irrational Dionysiac mindset. On other side we have civilised, rational apollonian mindset. All tragedies have tried to bring in a harmony between these two. Symbolically, they uphold the victory of the statehood.

This struggle is seen in Aeschylus’s writings. One can feel a colossal struggle between values, Gods and so on. His famous trilogy, Oresteia is the best example for this. The central action of the play is the between Clytemnestra and Agamemnon. She plays the loving, waiting wife and attempts to persuade Agamemnon to step on a red carpet to walk into “his” palace as a true returning conqueror. The problem is that this would indicate hubris on Agamemnon’s part, and he is reluctant. Eventually, for reasons that are still heavily debated, Clytemnestra does persuade Agamemnon to cross the purple tapestry to enter the oikos, where, according to her later account, she kills him in the bath. The chorus, in this play a group of the elders of Argos, is left bewildered and fearful, until they hear the death screams of Agamemnon and frantically debate on a course of action. Aegisthus, Agamemnon’s dispossessed cousin and her lover, now the king, strutting out and delivering an arrogant speech to the chorus, who nearly enter into a brawl with him and his guard, soon joins Clytemnestra. However, Clytemnestra halts the dispute by swinging the axe wildly, saying “There is pain enough already. Let us not be bloody now.” Orestes arrives at the grave of his father, accompanied by his cousin Pylades, the son of the king of Phocis, where he has grown up in exile; he places two locks of his hair on the tomb. Orestes and Pylades hide as Electra, Orestes’ sister, arrives at the grave accompanied by a chorus of elderly slave women (the libation bearers of the title) to pour libations on Agamemnon’s grave – they have been sent by Clytemnestra in an effort “to ward off harm”.

Just as the ritual ends, Electra spots a lock of hair on the tomb which she recognizes as similar to her own; subsequently she sees two sets of footprints, one of which has proportions similar to hers. At this point Orestes and Pylades emerge from their hiding place and Orestes gradually convinces her of his identity. The chorus, Orestes, and Electra, attempt to conjure the departed spirit of Agamemnon to aid them in revenging his murder. Orestes and Pylades pretend to be ordinary travelers from Phocis, and ask for hospitality at the palace. They even tell the Queen that Orestes is dead.

Delighted by the news, Clytemnestra sends a servant to summon Aegisthus. When Aegisthus arrives, Orestes reveals himself and kills the usurper. Orestes proceeds immediately with the murder and wraps the bodies of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus in the cloak that Agamemnon was wearing when he was slain. As soon as he exits the palace, the Erinyes begin to haunt and torture him in his flight. Orestes flees in agonized panic. The chorus complains that the cycle of violence did not stop with Clytemnestra’s murder, but continues. Orestes finds a refuge and a solace at the new temple of Apollo in Delphi, and the god, unable to deliver him from the Erinyes’ unappeasable wrath, sends him along to Athens under the protection of Hermes, while he casts a drowsy spell upon the pursuing Erinyes in order to delay them. The Erinyes’ tracking down of Orestes in Athens is equally haunting: Orestes has clasped Athena’s small statue in supplication, and the Erinyes close in on him by smelling the blood of his slain mother in the air. Once they do see him, they can also see rivulets of blood soaking the earth beneath his footsteps. As they surround him, Athena intervenes and brings in twelve Athenians to join her in forming a jury to judge her supplicant. Apollo acts as counsel for Orestes, while the Erinyes act as advocates for the dead Clytemnestra.

During the trial, Apollo convinces Athena that, in a marriage, the man is more important than the woman, by pointing out that Athena was born only of Zeus and without a mother. Athena votes last and casts her vote for acquittal; she does so before the votes are counted. After being counted, the votes on each side are equal, thus acquitting Orestes as Athena had earlier announced that this would be the result of a tie. She then persuades the Erinyes to accept the verdict, and they eventually submit. Athena then leads a procession accompanying them to their new abode and the escort now addresses them as “Semnai” (Venerable Ones), as they will now be honored by the citizens of Athens and ensure the city’s prosperity. Athena also declares that henceforth tied juries will result in the defendant being acquitted, as mercy should always take precedence over harshness.

Source: Oresteia – Wikipedia

About Balaga

Established in 1949, Ninasam has grown in to many branches of knowledge today. One of the important and oldest wings is its local theatre troupe. A group with floating population of local theatre enthusiast of Heggodu and surroundings work on a play almost every year since its inception. Some of the important productions are ‘Shahajahan’, ‘Sangya Balya’, ‘Chomana Dudi’, Ghasiram Kotwal’ and so on. The plays are not only directed by local directors, many times directors on national and international repute like B.V Karanth,Chandrashekar Kambara, Prasanna,Prakash Belwadi, Raghunandana,Channakeshava and so on. These plays are usually staged in Heggodu and surroundings. They have also been staged in many parts of Karnataka.

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I don’t think the video would ever give the real feel of the stage. So this is not a replacement for stage. But this could be a great reference material for students. I see the potential of these kinds of documentation efforts there.

Venkatramana Aithal


Oresthis Purana Crew

We thank Ninasam community, Heggodu

All who helped this project Directly and indirectly

Documentation Sponsors

Ashoka Vardhana |  Ila S. Bhat | M. T. Hebbar | H. Sundara Rao | Dr. Krishna Mohan Prabhu | Dr. Nisarga | Prasanna K.R | Vachan Shetty| Shailaja S. Bhat

Sanchi Foundation Documentation team

Camera  Vishnu Prasad, Lakshman Nayak, Somanatha | Camera assistant – Avinash | Sound design – Jamie DSilva | Additional Sound – Shishira K.V | Editing of plays – Prashanth Pandith | Interviews – NAM Ismail | Editing of interviews – Abhaya Simha | Internet technology – Omshivaprakash | Subtitles – Avinash G. | Photograph – Pavithra, Omshivaprakash | Documentation Direction – Abhaya Simha

Ninasam Tirugata 2015

Oresthis Purana

Based on trilogy of – Greek tragedies | Written by – Aeschylus | Translated by – Dr. Vijaya Guttala | Direction – B.R Venkatramana Aithala | Actors – Subbanna Nandre (Agamemnon), Vidya Hegde (Clytemnestra), Sushila Hegde (Aegisthus), Nagaraja M.S (Cassandra), Saurabha K, Suhana M. (Oresthis), Channakeshava S.H, Chaitrakumar Mavinakuli (Electra), Arpitha B., Vibha Aithala (Apollo), Kiran S. Purappemane (Athena), Madhunisha (Hermes), Shankara Bhat (Messanger), Ramesha N.M. Nandre, Naveen Malavalli (Guards), Jayaprakash Shetty Hebbailu, Raghavendra N. Kalkoppa, Naveen Malavalli (Pilates), Naveen Malavalli (Servant), Ganesha H.B (Child Oresthis), Samartha P.N (Chorus), Shankara Bhat, Ramesha N.M Nandre, Jayaprakash Shetty Hebbailu, Naveen Malavalli, Kirana S. Purappemane,Chaitrakumar Mavinakuli,Sampada S. Bhagavatha, Darshan H.S, Raghavendra N. Kaloppa, Shreedhana B.N (Semnai – Venerable Ones), Vidya Hegde, Darshan H.S, Sampada S. Bhagavatha, Saurabha K., Arpitha B., Suhana M., Vibha Aithala, Mayura Hegde, Samartha P.N (Elderly citizens), Narahari M.V, Siddavirappa M.G, Narayana Swami P.K, Subbanna Nandre, Ramesha N.M Nandre, Nagaraja M.S, Shankara Bhat, Shreedhana B.N | Stage management– M.S. Nagaraja | Stage craft -Jayaprakash Shetty Hebbailu, Subbanna Nandre, Kirana S. Purappemane, Channakeshava S.H, Shreedhana B.N | Costumes – Vidya Hegde, Sushila Hegde, Arpitha B., Vibha Aithala | Lighting – Naveen Malavalli, Raghavendra N. Kalkoppa, Channakeshava S.H, Sampada S. Bhagavath, Ganesha H.B, Darshan H.S, Narayana Swami P.K | Properties – Chaitrakumar Mavinakuli, Shankara Bhat, Suhana M., Ramesha N.M Nandre, Saurabha K. | Music – M.P. Hegde, Bhargava K.N | Publicity – Siddavirappa M.G, Shreedhan B.N, Narahari M.V | Stage Design – Manju Kodagu | Light design and operation – M.M. Krishnamurthy | Assistance – Avinash Rai | Dance design – Suraj B.R | Technical help – Harisha Chalavadi, Praveen Sulya, Ramesha P.K, Phaniyamma H.S

Technical management

Tour manager – Hanumappa Chandappa Chalavadi | Office maintenance – Shrikantha G.R | Planning and execution – Shripada T. Bhagavath

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