Forms of Justice in Aeschylus’ Eumenides

in Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought
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Abstract

In this article, we explore the forms of justice presented in Aeschylus’ Eumenides. Most scholarship hitherto has focused on the shift from retaliatory justice to trial by court of law enacted in the play. However, the verdict pronounced in Orestes’ favor does not bring about resolution, but rather threatens to destabilize the polis, as the Furies redirect their anger against Athens. Indeed, the play can be seen as a study in the limitations of criminal justice. Our article examines the resolution of the conflict in the post-trial phase of the play in the light of principles and practices of modern restorative justice. Such comparison is not intended as arguing for correspondence. Rather, the aim is to understand more fully the dynamics of Athena’s intervention by analyzing it against key elements of restorative justice.

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