But is revenge justified? And how far should one go to obtain revenge?
In Orestes’ and Telemachus’ cases, their acts of violence were partly in defense. After all, in Ancient Greek times there were no laws, and in the cases of both Orestes and Telemachus, their throne lineage was at risk and their own lives in danger as well. We must also consider the fact that their murders were ordered and assisted by some of the gods, who believed in “an eye for an eye” and “blood for blood”. Moreover, in Orestes’ case, he was put on trial and acquitted. Therefore, it can be deemed that the gods supported Orestes in his acts of revenge. According to these ancient Greek myths and ancient Greek customs, Orestes and Telemachus were innocent.
But why do people take revenge? Is it for personal content and satisfaction? Because if that is so, I have to wonder just how much satisfaction these men received. What was it like for Orestes to be pursued by the Furies for years after he murdered his mother and Aegisthus? And Telemachus, he helped slaughter a great many men and he had to live with what he did for the rest of his life. He could never take back his murderous actions. I find it hard to believe that he would not be haunted by memories, knowing that so much blood was shed by his hands.
I understand that each of Orestes and Telemachus probably believed he had to do what he did, and perhaps each was never bothered emotionally by his acts of revenge. However, I also know that most people cannot go through such horrifying experiences without having some kind of emotional stress. As the author, Charlotte Bronte, once said, “Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy: its after-flavor, metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been poisoned.”
I believe that these two young men could have taken alternative action. If I were in their shoes, I would have taken less drastic measures, because I believe that in the end, revenge just breeds more contempt and hate and the cycle only continues. In fact, the reason we have such violence today is because people like Telemachus and Orestes, throughout history, took their revenge, killing men, and then their enemies’ descendents took revenge on each other. This vicious cycle continued from generation to generation with families shedding blood over something that happened hundreds of years ago. Granted, not all violence in present day is a result of past family feuds, but some is. Because of the violence that is based upon these foundations, I believe that Orestes and Telemachus should have taken alternative action. Had I been involved in the same circumstances as those two and wanted revenge, I would have banished my enemies—sold them as slaves—so that they would feel the same humiliation and degradation that my father had. If one feels obliged to take revenge, the action should be one of justice. I do not believe it is justified to take someone’s life in the name of revenge. Life is too precious, too priceless.
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