Orestes: and the Lifting of the Family Curse

Delivery time: 3 day(s)


A powerful story well worth the re-telling

Author: Hazel Marshall

Illustrators: Tricia Newell et al


The Myth of Orestes is almost certainly fiction. In the 1980s I came across a set of

pictures and never forgot the story woven into them. It was about a young boy born into a troubled family; a powerful story well worth re-telling. Only much later did I find out the origins of the tale, written down about two and a half thousand years ago by several Greek playwrights I’d barely heard of. Those old writers — Euripides, Aeschylus, Sophocles — were finding this story such a good one that each of them added to and recast it, making it right for their own much later time. I am no academic, no student of the history, philosophy or poetry of Ancient Greece. I would like to let these characters live again in my own era, making this splendid tale more accessible to ordinary English-speaking readers like myself, re-telling it as a myth, a dream of the race, and trusting it will chime with our own times. The story of how Orestes deals with the double bind in which he finds himself marks a vital stage in humanity’s progress from barbarism

towards wisdom and compassion. How can such an impossible situation ever have a happy ending? — and yet it does. I invite you, dear Reader, to pause at various points in the story, perhaps closing your eyes, drawing in your awareness and recreating the scene in your imagination. You might ask yourself, ‘What on earth would I do in Orestes’ shoes? — How can he possibly cope with this? — What does this remind me of?’ You will find your own unique response within.

Hazel Marshall Transpersonal psychotherapist, author and writer.


Ideas can change the world and Hazel Marshall’s new book is about just such an idea. Our hero is bound by honour and family tradition to avenge a past wrong, for this is a tale of vendetta. Long-lasting family feuds are not rare; in his play Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare wrote of such a case and, as so often, things did not work out well. Vendettas can also sour relations between tribes and between nations; we need only

recall the long-standing conflicts all over the world: ‘past wrongs cannot be forgiven and must never be forgotten’. Vendettas are about revenge and retribution — the situation young Orestes found himself in. Family honour obliged him to avenge his father’s death but in doing so, he laid himself open to retribution for his action. He was in a desperate situation, one without any prospect of a happy ending — that is, until the gods themselves stepped in. The goddess Pallas Athene had a brilliant idea. She solved Orestes’ difficulties by finding another way for honour to be satisfied; she set up a Court of Justice. Invoking the sense of justice we all carry deep within our hearts, she chose twelve good men and true to hear the evidence presented by both sides, and to weigh that evidence in their hearts. Which case best appealed to their sense of justice? Revenge arouses our baser passions; but Athene invoked a higher principle, our sense of what is right. Trial by jury has formed the basis of our own legal system for many

centuries; ordinary, good-hearted people can take the heat out of a situation, their judgement less clouded by their passions. Athene’s seminal idea has given us a basic strand of European culture, a way that has found increasing acceptance around the world. Until I read the drafts of Hazel’s book, I hadn’t realised just how much we owe to those wise, ancient Greeks. You may find similar gems in this fascinating retelling of a little-known Greek Drama. Frances Aitkin

Frances Aitkin author and writer



1 Exile in Phocis

2 The House of Atreus

3 Laodameia Remembers

4 Agamemnon

5 Achilles

6 Clytaemnestra

7 Iphigeneia

8 Artemis Exacts her Due

9 The Return of the King

10 Cassandra


11 Demetrius

12 Electra

13 Deception

14 Revenge

15 Celebration

16 Castor and Pollux

17 In the Stables

18 In the Palace

19 The Family

20 Pylades

21 Hermione and Helen


22 Gods and Ghosts

23 Pallas Athene

24 The Trial

25 The Verdict


26 A Temple in Tauris

27 Beyond the Clashing Rocks

28 The Image of Artemis

29 Another Plot

30 Release into Freedom

Extent: 234 pages

Dimensions: 234 mm x 156 mm x 15 mm portrait

Illustrations: 79 in full colour

Weight: 550 gram