Sardonyx Cameo of the Trial of Orestes, Asia Minor, 1st Century BC
Athena is shown here casting her ballot in favor of Orestes, who was on trial for the murder of his own mother, Clytemnestra. He killed her in an act of revenge because she murdered his father, King Agamemnon after he had sacrificed their own daughter, Iphigenia, so that his fleet could set sail for Troy.
Because the other jurors’ votes were tied, Athena’s ballot determined Orestes fate and he went free. The story of Orestes’ trial is told in The Eumenides, the final play of The Orestia by Aeschylus.
every character in agamemnon sets fire to language in a different way. klytaimestra is a master of technologies, starting with the thousand-mile relay of beacons that brings news of the fall of troy all the way from asia to her in the first scene. she reenacts the relay in language that is so brilliant and so aggressive, she is like a conqueror naming parts of the world she now owns. she goes on to own everyone in the play - the chorus by argument and threat, agamemnon by flattery and puns, aigisthos by sexy cozening - with one exception. kassandra, she cannot conquer. kassandra’s defence, which is perfect, is silence.
anne carson, preface to the agamemnon of aeschylus in ’an oresteia’ (aeschylus, sophocles and euripides, trans. anne carson)