Orestes

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Orestes

(ōrĕst`ēz), d. 476, Roman general. With the help of barbarians he deposed (475) the Roman emperor of the West, Julius Nepos, and raised his own son, Romulus AugustulusRomulus Augustulus
, d. after 476, last Roman emperor of the West (475–76). His father, the general Orestes, deposed Julius Nepos and proclaimed Romulus Augustulus emperor. Orestes ruled for a year in his son's name.
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, to the throne. The next year the barbarians under OdoacerOdoacer
or Odovacar
, c.435–493, chieftain of the Heruli, the Sciri, and the Rugii (see Germans). He and his troops were mercenaries in the service of Rome, but in 476 the Heruli revolted and proclaimed Odoacer their king.
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 revolted; Orestes was killed at Piacenza, and his son was deposed.

Orestes,

in Greek mythology, the only son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon and brother of Electra and Iphigenia. After the slaying of Agamemnon by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, Orestes, still a boy, was sent to live in exile. Since it was the duty of the senior male in the house to punish the murderers, Orestes was commanded by Apollo to avenge the crime. With the assistance of Electra and his friend Pylades, who accompanied him in all his adventures, he killed his mother and her lover. After this matricide he was haunted by the Furies (Erinyes) until he reached Athens. He was tried and acquitted by the Areopagus, the tribunal of Athenian judges. Not all the Furies, however, accepted the verdict; and, to win full expiation from his crime, he was told to steal the sacred image of Artemis from Tauris. At Tauris he was reunited with Iphigenia and with her assistance stole the image and safely returned to Greece. It is said that he later married Hermione, the daughter of Menelaus and Helen. In the Oresteia, Aeschylus dramatized his vengeance and expiation. The story was also used by Sophocles and Euripides.

Orestes

 

in ancient Greek mythology, son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra.

Agamemnon was treacherously murdered by Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. Orestes, urged on by his sister Electra, avenged his father by slaying Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. According to one version of the myth, Orestes, pursued by the Furies, goddesses of revenge, appeared in Athens for judgment. Aided by the god Apollo and the goddess Athena, he was acquitted.

The Swiss historian of law J. J. Bachofen was the first, as F. Engels observed, to interpret this myth of Orestes as “a dramatic depiction of the struggle between declining mother right and rising and victorious father right in the Heroic Age” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Sock, 2nd ed., vol. 22, p. 216).

According to another version of the myth, Orestes and his friend Pylades went to the Taurians in Scythia to obtain a sacred image of Artemis and bring it to Athens. They were taken captive by the Taurians, but Orestes’ sister Iphigenia rescued them and then fled with them to Greece, taking the image of Artemis with her.

The Orestes myth was the subject of a number of tragedies, among them Aeschylus’ trilogy the Oresteia, Sophocles’ Electra, Euripides’ Electra, Orestes, and Iphigenia in Tauris, and tragedies by Racine and Voltaire. It was also a theme of several musical compositions, among them S. I. Taneev’s Oresteia and works by R. Kreutzer. Orestes and Pylades have become proverbial as a pair of inseparable friends.

Orestes

recognized by Iphigenia at the moment of his sacrifice. [Gk. Lit.: Iphigenia in Tauris, Kitto, 327–347]

Orestes

spurned suitor of Hermione. [Fr. Lit.: Andromache]

Orestes

commits matricide to avenge father’s honor. [Gk. Lit.: Electra]
See: Murder

Orestes

persecuted and tormented by Furies. [Gk. Myth.: Wheeler, 271; Gk. Lit.: The Eumenides]

Orestes

killed his mother and her lover for having murdered his father. [Gk. Myth.: Benét, 741]