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In this issue:
-Orestes and Pylades, Part Five
In his book, "Literary Texts and the Roman Historian" (Routledge, 1999), David S. Potter reports that he conducted a comparative study of Lucian's "How to Write History," Dionysius of Halicarnassus' "Essay on Thucydides," and several passages from Cicero, before drawing a conclusion that makes him a man after my own heart.
He found this renowned trio of ancient historians to be largely in agreement with each other in regard to their view of writing history: 'No one claims that everything in a history will necessarily be true, or that the historian should remove his personality from what he writes. Rather, the historian should cast judgment on events and should produce speeches that entertain so long as they are appropriate to the circumstances. The core narrative should be based on the best evidence that can be found, and that evidence should not be distorted.'
Thank you, Mr. Potter! I feel much better now. I had thought I was going about this all wrong.
Lest we forget that this series of "little histories" on the list is primarily concerned with gay-oriented relationships (a bisexual can have a hetroid-oriented relationship with a woman, but not on the gay side of himself), I want to offer an item about Orestes and Pylades. Until now in this narrative, I have largely neglected that side of the story because we have thus far been concerned with his growing up and settling his overwhelming family situation, which is not over yet, for he will be placed on trial. But there is that other side of him, devoted to Pylades. It was the best part of both of them, as we shall see.
Lucian was a Greek satirist and rhetorician (an eloquent speaker or writer) who lived in the second century A.D., a contemporary of Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher-emperor of Rome who appears as a principal character in the opening scenes of the current hit film, "Gladiator." Those who saw the film will have an idea, then, of the world in which Lucian lived.
Lucian, being Greek and thus of a gay-understanding heart (it is unknown if he was gay himself), has left for us one of the most beautiful descriptions in all literature of a homosexual love relationship---that of Orestes and Pylades. Now that we are familiar with their story, which ended with the murders of Queen Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus, we can proceed.
Lucian, in his book (written 2000 years ago) entitled "Amores" ("Lovers"), gives us an overview which places their love in its proper perspective: at the center of their lives. Elements of their story will be revealed to you in this passage, but I will elucidate these mysteries later.
Excerpt from Lucian:
"Phoeis (locaton of the Delphic oracle) preserves from early times the memory of the union between Orestes and Pylades, who taking a god as witness of the passion between them, sailed through life together as though in one boat. Both together put to death Clytemnestra, as though both were sons of Agamemnon; and Aegisthus was slain by both. Pylades suffered more than his friend by the punishment which pursued Orestes. He stood by him when condemned, nor did they limit their tender friendship by the bounds of Greece, but sailed to the furthest boundaries of the Scythians-the one sick, the other ministering to him. When they had come into the Tauric land straightway they were met by the matricidal fury; and while the barbarians were standing round in a circle Orestes fell down and lay on the ground, seized by his usual mania, while Pylades 'wiped away the foam, tended his body, and covered him with his well-woven cloak' acting not only like a lover but like a father.
"When it was determined that one should remain to be put to death, and the other should go to Mycenae to convey a letter, each wished to remain for the sake of the other, thinking that if he saved the life of his friend he saved his own life. Orestes refused to take the letter, saying that Pylades was more worthy to carry it, acting more like the lover than the beloved. 'For,' he said, 'the slaying of this man would be a great grief to me, as I am the cause of these misfortunes.' And he added, 'Give the tablet to him for (turning to Pylades) I will send thee to Argos, in order that it may be well with thee; as for me, let any one kill me who desires it.'
"Such love is always like that; for when from boyhood a serious love has grown up and it becomes adult at the age of reason, the long-loved object returns reciprocal affection, and it is hard to determine which is the lover of which, for---as from a mirror---the affection of the lover is reflected from the beloved."
Here is a synopsis of the story thus far: When Agamemnon returned from Troy, he was murdered by Aegisthus and Clytemnestra, and Aegisthus her lover became king of Mycenae. But Orestes, whose life was now in danger, was smuggled away by his eldest sister Electra and given to the Phocian King Strophius 1 to bring up. Years later, following the oracle of Delphi, Orestes returned to Mycenae in company with Pylades his lover, and killed both his mother and Aegisthus.
Moving forward from here:
There are differing versions of what happens next. Sophocles' play is over, but Euripides wrote another about Electra and Orestes, from a different point of view. Footnotes at the end of this series will tell more about that.
In the version I choose to tell, after the killing is over, Clytemnestra's sister, the famous beauty Helen of Troy (some sources claim she was Clytemnestra's twin, but Clytemnestra is not spoken of as beautiful which probably means that if true, they may have been fraternal rather than identical twins) arrives with her husband, a powerful king.
Orestes does not come to meet them. He has spent most of his time in bed, partly from guilt for killing his mother. It is said that Orestes was so ashamed of what he had to do that before he struck the blow that severed his mother's head, he lifted his arm and covered his eyes with his cape, a classic case of the ultimate in denial. Some sources say that Pylades assisted in the murders, even killing Aegisthus' sons, but all the guilt was laid at Orestes' feet.
It has driven him mad. He is weak from not eating and is wasting away. He rises from his bed in the small hours of the night screaming that he is being pursued by the Furies, the snake-haired, winged sisters whom the priestess at Delphi implored to go easy on him for the matricide. He fears they have reneged on their promise and have visited this madness upon him in retribution. Little does he know that they will see to it that there will be worse to come!
Dear Pylades suffers with him vicariously, but keeps his head together to console and nurse him, probably sleeping by his side, comforting Orestes in his strong arms. I see Orestes weeping on Pylades shoulder, Pylades' leg slung across him and his hands stroking Orestes' back from high to low, kissing his forehead and whispering: "My baby, don't cry. Daddy's here. It will be all right." Then coaxing him into making love, making him forget before the remembering begins again. These were mortal men. Should they be different from us? Why? They were our kind!
Electra's Aunt Helen has not come with tender feelings. Her sister has been murdered. Her royal husband is upset as well, but not half as much as the citizens clamoring outside the palace walls, demanding Orestes' punishment. They plan on stoning him to death.
When Orestes meets with Helen and her husband, he looks ill and unwashed, which is of no help to his case! The king asks him why he has committed this heinous crime. The playwright Euripedes has them say:
Orestes: "My revenge was Apollo's command."
Menelaus (the king): "A command showing some ignorance of law and right."
Orestes: "What are the gods? We don't know, but we are their slaves."
Orestes needs his help. There is a lynch mob outside. crying for his blood. They also want to stone Electra for her role in the whole affair. Mad he may be, but he is no fool. He reminds Menelaus of Agamemnon's faithful service in the Trojan War, when his father marched to fight for Helen's return to her rightful husband.
"Menelaus," Orestes says, "all my hope rests upon you alone...You have come home successful. I am your brother's son. Give me a share of your well-being...And pay where it is due the debt you owe to my father. Friends who in times of trouble are no longer friends mock the true force of friendship with an empty name."
But Menelaus remains reluctant. There are other factors to consider. How do he and Helen and their limited bodyguard get out of here and back to the safety of their ship through that howling mob without giving them Orestes and Electra? And if they manage, how do they then face the wrath of Helen and Clytemnestra's father, the warlike King of Sparta. He dare not anger his father-in-law. After all, Menelaus hopes to inherit the Spartan throne.
Menelaus' reluctance infuriates Orestes. One can only imagine how Pylades feels, standing to the side with his hand resting on his sword---ready, if need be, to cut a swathe through the citizens' ranks to get his baby out.
Orestes shakes his fist at Menelaus. "You coward! Did you once command an army? Yes, to win a woman; not to help your friends...Traitor! Have you forgotten Agamemnon?"
That is a desperate cut, but it does not slice the pie. Menelaus continues to wallow in self-righteousness and self-interest.
Meanwhile, outside, events are taking another turn. There have been speeches to the rabble, some pro, some con. Diomedes, a great hero, like Agamemnon, of the Trojan War, still holds the people's respect. He stands before them and argues in favor of sparing the lives of Orestes and Electra in memory of Agamemnon and of banishing them from the kingdom. Such, he thinks, should be punishment enough.
Not once does cowardly Menelaus show his face to that assembly despite his having been the chief beneficiary of the Trojan War. He had got his wife back and became King of Troy as well!
No amount of cajoling can change the tide. It is put to a vote, and the citizens pronounce brother and sister guilty, with a sentence of death for both---their choice of hanging themselves or of falling under an executioner's sword.
Deeply distressed, Pylades thereupon resolves that time for real action has come. He cannot live without Orestes, and he has no intention of saving his own skin by leaving or betraying his love. Together they will escape this fate, or together they will die.
Since death appears the more likely, Pylades decides to ensure that the despicable Menelaus will do his share of suffering, too. But how? Then, with a stroke of genius, he devises a simple, yet perfect, plan: they will kill Helen, who is at this moment going through the palace making a list of all the valuables which will be hers once her nephew Orestes and niece Electra are out of the way.
The beautiful Helen! The face that launched a thousand ships! The most famous woman in the world! Ha! Her death would drive Menelaus raving mad!
Pylades seeks out his beloved Orestes and tells him of the plan. Orestes finds it brilliant.
"Oh," Orestes cries, falling into his lover's arms, "I am ready to die twice if we bring this off!
They lay plans immediately to attack Helen's personal bodyguard, not considering them much of a threat. Her protectors, we are led to believe, are basically a gaggle of girlish boys who polish her mirrors and style her hair and do her nails and choose her perfumes and practice other of the mysterious arts of a great beauty's toilet. Our macho lovers figure they need do no more than lock up the nancy Keystone Kops in various rooms and throw away the keys.
Pylades and Orestes expect Helen's murder to be popular with the hoi polloi. Helen is hated throughout Greece by all who lost a relative or friend in the Trojan War. By killing her, Pylades reasons, Orestes's name of "matricide" will be forgotten and give place to the title "Killer of the killer of thousands, the infamous Helen of Troy."
They expect also that in the midst of the celebrations after Helen is dead, they may be able to escape with Electra and head for kinder climes.
When Electra is clued in to the plot, she has another great idea. The daughter of Helen and Menelaus, named Hermione, came with her parents from Troy. Why not take her hostage to ensure that Menelaus will not act against them after Helen's death?
Hurrah! One hell of a plan!
Not quite. Our heroes try, but the best laid plans of mice and men.....!
In the melée that ensues, Helen's gay bodyguards prove tougher than expected. Our boys do capture Hermione, the daughter, but mother Helen gets away. When Menelaus, getting word, arrives breathless on the scene, he has already been told that Helen is safe, but a surprising and frightening sight greets his eyes:
Orestes has a stranglehold on Menelaus' daughter, with a sharp knife pointed at her throat!
Having realized that escape is impossible, Orestes threatens to kill Hermione and set fire to the palace unless Menelaus goes to the assembly outside and persuades the citizens to spare their lives, but even such a dreadful threat cannot convince the spineless King of Troy to show his sorry face to the crowd!
Do you believe in miracles? There are two in the story of Orestes and Pylades. Here comes the first one now:
Looking down from Mount Olympus, heavenly home of the immortals, the god Apollo has been watching these proceedings with interest (haven't we all?). Finally deciding that no mere mortal can possibly solve this difficult situation, he comes down to earth and orders everybody to calm down.
"Let them go," he decrees for Orestes, Electra and Pylades.
The god then turns to the beautiful Helen. "You," Apollo says, "belong in heaven with me. Let's go."
Her husband, Menelaus, who started a ten-year-war to get her back after Paris abducted her to Troy, tries to muster the courage to speak, but mighty Apollo silences him with a lift of his hand.
"And YOU!" he booms, "YOU get yourself another wife!"
---To be continued---
(Note from Ben Boxer: Sorry this story is so long, folks. I expected to tell it in only three parts, but I got so involved in it, and there is so much to tell, that I don't want to short-change you. From the letters you are writing, I perceive you are hanging on every word. So am I. I will let the story play itself out to the end. Maybe tomorrow, but our heroes have more ahead of them which you will want to share. As Lucian wrote, "Orestes and Pylades...sailed through life together as though in one boat." I guess we're all in the same boat!)
We have seen how Orestes' predicament in Mycenae was settled when the god Apollo appeared on the scene and saved his life and Electra's, and, by extension, Pylades' who had resolved in any case to die with his lover. But Orestes' salvation was not to be savored for long.
There was still the matter of the Furies. They demand that he be tried in Athens for matricide.
These three winged sisters with snakes for haIr---like Medusa's, whose face was made so hideous by the goddess Athena that all who looked at her turned to stone---were responsible for punishing crimes committed against blood kin. They had already visited madness upon poor Orestes, but that was not enough. They wished for him to pay a higher price---his life.
When Orestes and Pylades had gone to Delphi to consult with the Pythian oracle at the Temple of Apollo about what he should do in the matter of his evil mother, the priestess had instructed him that it was time to do the deed, and if he did not kill her, he would, among other things, become a leper. Thus instructed by divination, he had no choice but to do it. The priestess had interceded with the Furies in his behalf, and Orestes had been led to believe that he was forgiven in advance.
Orestes suffered terribly from his seizures which were akin not only to epilepsy, but also to hydrophobia. As Lucian wrote: "...Orestes fell down and lay on the ground, seized by his usual mania, while Pylades 'wiped away the foam, tended his body, and covered him with his well-woven cloak' acting not only like a lover but like a father."
There is a hint in that excerpt, as often occurs in mention of Pylades, that he was the older of the two, by how much is not known, but he is sometimes spoken of as the "lover" and Orestes as the "beloved," another implication of an older man adoring a younger---although in the Silverfoxes Syndrome we frequently see the reverse or, perhaps, an equalization of the lover-beloved quotient.
According to some sources, Pylades is in the soup up to his eyeballs, anyway. Aeschylus writes incriminating dialogue in "Libation Bearers" during the moments before Clytemnestra's murder, pointing to Pylades' complicity:
Orestes: "What will I do, Pylades? I dread to kill my mother!"
Pylades: "What of the future? What of Apollo's oracles, declared at Delphi, the faith and oaths we swear? Make all mankind your enemy, not the gods."
Factoring in Pylades' guilt over helping his baby come to this sorry pass, it is small wonder that he may have been overly solicitous in his care of Orestes during these terrible attacks. I have no doubt that Pylades, in his secret heart, prayed that the wrath of the Furies might be transferred to him from his beloved, but the Furies seemed bent on destroying only Orestes.
Orestes goes on trial in Athens, but it appears that the immortals of Olympus are positively on his side. We have already witnessed the miracle of Apollo coming to earth to save Orestes and Electra from the mob at Mycenae, and how he cast his eye on the lovely Helen of Troy and took her back to heaven with him, leaving her husband, the spineless Menelaus, holding the bag.
Now he does Orestes another favor and sends the goddess Athena, patron saint of Athens, to preside at his trial for matricide. We won't count this as a miracle because she does not actually intervene in his behalf, and there is a true miracle later in the story, but Athena's presence on the bench (the Greeks accepted it as gospel) is noteworthy because Orestes' was the first court trial for homicide in the literary history of the western world!
The presence of the goddess as an indication of heaven's favor having been bestowed upon Orestes impresses some members of the jury because the votes are equally divided for and against.
Our hero is acquitted!
"Not guilty," however, is not a verdict to please the Furies. They just will not him go. His affliction worsens. Beside themselves about it, Orestes and Pylades wonder what in the gods' names to do? Some say that in his madness, he bit off one of his fingers and that the Furies finally took pity and let him off the hook. But other sources, and events that follow, give the lie to that assumption. Orestes remains distinctly off his nut!
He is said to have sought purification by the waters of the Horse's Fount in Troezen, in the place where the earth sent up the water when the flying horse Pegasus struck the ground with his hoof. Centuries after there was still a building called the Booth of Orestes, where the descendants of those who cleansed Orestes used to dine on appointed days. In that building, which was in front of a sanctuary of Apollo, the Troezenians lodged Orestes, for before he was purified no citizens would receive him into their homes.
Nothing works. As his fits of madness continue, Orestes and Pylades go back to Delphi and ask the oracle how he can get rid of his mental disorder. The oracle (he still trusts it!) answers that he will be healed if he brings back to Delphi from a temple in Tauris a famous statue of the goddess Artemis.
Artemis, in Greek religion and mythology, was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and twin sister of Apollo (whom we met at Mycenae). Artemis' early worship, especially at Ephesus, identified her as an earth goddess, similar to Astarte. In later legend, however, she was primarily a virgin huntress, goddess of wildlife and patroness of hunters. Of the many animals sacred to her, the bear was most important. (Attention all "bears"!)
As the complement to Apollo (the sun god), she was often considered a moon goddess and as such was identified with Selene and Hecate. In ancient Greece, the worship of Artemis was widespread. The Romans identified her with Diana. She is mentioned in the biblical book of Acts of the Apostles, where she appears to be in competition with the god of the Christians.
Tauris, which today is called the Crimea, is located in the extreme southeast of Ukraine. It is a peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea and is at the time of Orestes a part of the realm of Scythia. The concept of hospitality does not exist, and foreigners, or whatever strangers who happen to come within the Taurian borders, are systematically put to death and thrown into the sacred fire in the temple of Artemis.
Tauris, therefore, is not exactly a place which a non-native would choose for a vacation, but, again, poor Orestes is saddled with a pronouncement from the Pythian oracle.
The lovers leave Delphi and embark in Orestes's private ship for Tauris. After a voyage through the Aegean Sea, the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, they finally reach the Crimea (Tauris). No sooner do they set foot on dry land than the Taurians seize them and take them, under arrest for the crime of being foreign, to he sacrificed to none other than the goddess Artemis, whose statue they have been charged by the Pythian oracle to bring back to Delphi!
How cruelly do the Furies use me, must have crossed his mind.
Before proceeding, we have to go back in time, all the way back to Orestes' early childhood when the toughest thing in his life was the absence of his dad. But Agamemnon was off to the Trojan War to save the lovely Helen who had been abducted from King Menelaus' palace by Prince Paris, who loved her, too, and stole her away to Troy. "After the varmint!" went up the cry, and every able-bodied man in the Greek Empire signed up to join the posse and boarded one of those thousand ships which were launched in behalf of Helen's beautiful face (now in heaven, as we have seen, shining with the sun god, Apollo).
We know that the High Priestess of the Trojan gods, Cassandra, caught the roving eye of the horny Agamemnon (in church?) while at the same time back home in Mycenae, his wife, Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus, were conspiring to murder him when he returned.
We know also that Agamemnon achieved his goal and made Cassandra his battlefield mistress, then sent home for one of his darling daughters (he had three by Clytemnestra: Electra, Iphigenia and Chrysothemis) who arrived in unsuspecting innocence not knowing that Daddy intended her as a sacrifice to the Trojan gods in gratitude for nailing Cassandra every night. (This is a colorful over-simplification. Agamemnon sent word home to Mycenae that he planned to marry off Iphigenia to Achilles. The story has several variations, but the story I tell here is as good as another.)
The rites of purification are performed. Iphigenia has been led to believe that she is dying for the good of the country. The army is in trouble, They need a virgin sacrifice. Achilles wants to marry her and carry her way, but she refuses, making noble statements to the effect that it is better to die for her country, etc.
Meanwhile, up on Mount Olympus, Artemis, goddess of the moon, looks down and sees what is going on. She decides that sacrificing Iphigenia in the name of adultery and other wrong reasons is a most improper thing to do. Artemis is a virgin goddess, you see, and has gone to extreme lengths to protect that virginity. Once, because he saw her bathing naked, she changed Actaeon into a stag, and let his own dogs kill him.
So, seeing Iphigenia laid out on the barbie, the goddess resorts to magic and PRESTO! Iphigenia disappears! In her place, Artemis substitutes a deer (she is also goddess of the hunt), and doubtless sits back with a vengeful smile. Technically, they were sacrifcing Iphigenia to Artemis anyway. She needs a virgin priestess for one of her temples, and she can't use the girl dead.
Iphigenia has indeed been sacrificed, but in quite another way. Artemis deposits the bewildered young lady at the new temple. Grateful for her salvation, the girl dedicates her life to the service of the goddess who has saved it.
Back in the temple of Artemis in Tauris, where Orestes and Pylades have been brought in chains, the two forlorn lovers stand before the High Priestess who will supervise their being thrown into the sacred fire. Noting that the prisoners are Greek, she asks for their home city.
Upon hearing that they come from Mycenae, she seems agitated. "I have relatives in that city whom I have not seen in many years. I should like them to know that I am well. If I were to spare one of thee, would that one deliver the letter for me?"
The lovers, each overjoyed at the opportunity to save the other, quickly acquiesce.
"I shall stay," offers Pylades, "that he may live."
"No!" protests Orestes. "I am the less worthy. Thou shalt go, my friend."
Lucian describes this scene: "When it was determined that one should remain to be put to death, and the other should go to Mycenae to convey a letter, each wished to remain for the sake of the other, thinking that if he saved the life of his friend he saved his own life. Orestes refused to take the letter, saying that Pylades was more worthy to carry it, acting more like the lover than the beloved. 'For,' he said, 'the slaying of this man would be a great grief to me, as I am the cause of these misfortunes.' And he added, 'Give the tablet to him for (turning to Pylades) I will send thee to Argos, in order that it may be well with thee; as for me, let any one kill me who desires it.'"
Deeply moved by this display, the priestess can scarcely contain her tears. "Thou art noble men," she says, "to love so well each the other's life! May I know thy names?"
"I am Pylades."
"I am Orestes, son and heir to Agamennon."
The priestess sucks in her breath. "Agamemnon? Hero of the Trojan War?"
"The very same," Orestes replies.
"I shall not need to write the letter," she says.
"Pray, lady, what meanest thou?" cries Pylades. "I beg thee, spare my friend!"
"No, no!" Orestes insists, turning to Pylades. "Did I not say in Mycenae that I would die twice if need be, to carry out our plan?" Turning back to the priestess, he continues: "Let him go free, lady. I shall die for the two of us. It will be no loss to me, for I shall live on in him."
The priestess raises her hand. "Speak softly that the attendants may not hear. I am thy sister, Orestes. Iphigenia is my name. I was not sacrificed at Troy after all and am under the special patronage of Artemis. I will have both of thee confined, for appearances' sake. Leave the rest to me." (Picture right: )
The attendants approach when she claps her hands."These prisoners have not been sufficiently purified for our purposes here," she explains. "Place them in a cell." Orestes and Pylades are led away, both in a state of shock over Iphigenia's revelation of her identity.
Reaching the cell, Orestes falls to the ground in an attack of madness doubtless brought on by these stressful events. Iphigenia finds Pylades kneeling beside him, wiping the foam from his mouth. She has sent the attendants away.
With Orestes in a semi-conscious state, Pylades tells her their tale from beginning to end. She has heard nothing of any of it, including the matricide. She is extremely interested in the oracle's request that the statue of Artemis be brought to Delphi. She works out a plan she will put into effect the following day.
Thus have we heard the two distinct miracles marking Orestes' life: the first, when Apollo came to earth to save him and his sister Electra from the mob; the second, when Artemis saved another sister from the fire and now, as a direct result of that action, when Iphigenia is on the verge of saving him and his lover from death. A miracle is often defined as divine intervention in human affairs.
The next morning, when Iphigenia begins to transport the statue from the temple, it happens that the King of Tauris stops by unannounced. Surprised, he asks why she is moving the statue from its inviolable place. She answers that "impure men, who have killed their mother, have come into the temple, which defiles it. For that reason, I must take the statue, along with the unclean prisoners, out under the pure heaven, to be purged of blood, and then to the beach to be cleansed by the water of the sea, which can wash clean all the foulness of mankind."
Having come at last to the beach, where Orestes' ship is anchored out of sight, they trick the guards and the temple attendants and, escaping with the statue, board ship and set sail for Delphi to fulfill the oracle's wish. En route, Orestes' madness departs, the angry Furies presumably having retired from his persecution.
All is well. From Delphi, our heroes, including Iphigenia, head for home.
I have said earlier in this story that one or two things later in Orestes life hint at Pylades being the older man. One is the place he occupied in the relationship on more than one occasion as a nurturing father. He did, indeed, "father" Orestes in numerous ways.
A more definite hint is the story offered by some sources that Clytemnestra was so enraged when Electra sent Orestes to safety that she degraded her daughter with a marriage to an ordinary peasant. That she was old enough to marry when Orestes was 10, even given the early ages at which ancient Greek girls traditionally married, impiies that she may have been quite a bit older than he.
The purpose of this consideration is that at some point after their return to Mycenae from Tauris, Orestes gave Electra in marriage to Pylades. There is another story that claims Pylades and Electra were betrothed early in life.
Whatever the case, I like to think that Orestes married Pylades to his sister to keep him in the family, and to make him a proper brother(-in-law).
It is said that they remained close for the rest of their lives, fighting side by side in war---lovers together, forever and ever.
Orestes lived a long life, but did not die of old age. He was killed by snakebite in a city that bore his name, Oresteum. The madness visited upon him by the Furies had left him years before, but the manner of his death indicates, to me, that those three vengeful sisters with serpents for hair had finally found the perfect, symbolic way to do him in.
End of silverfoxesclub-digest V1 #208 Supplement