Description[edit | edit source]
"Killed her mother to avenge her father's wrongful death. She suffers her punishment, which is to know finally the wrath of God."
Background[edit | edit source]
In Greek mythology, Electra (or Elektra) was a Mycenean princess. She was the daughter of King Agamemnon, who led the Greeks in battle against the Trojans during the Trojan War. Electra's mother, Queen Clytemnestra, hated Agamemnon for several past cases of abuse against her, including tricking her so he could sacrifice one of their daughters to the gods. Clytemnestra became the lover of Agamemnon's cousin Aegisthus while her husband was at Troy, and together they succeeded in murdering Agamemnon when he returned home from the war. Electra managed to hide her younger brother Orestes from the two (as he was Agamemnon's heir and would have been killed by them), but for years she herself was subjected to constant abuse at the hands of her mother and Aegisthus. She was even forced to marry a humble man, who fortunately pitied her and would not ruin her virtue. Electra would continually remind Clytemnestra about her crime, bringing flowers and tokens to Agamemnon's grave daily within view of the queen.
Electra was reunited with Orestes years later and goaded him into taking revenge for their father by killing Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. The pair succeeded, but for committing matricide the siblings were tormented by the Furies: living embodiments of guilt and punishment. Electra and Orestes were nearly driven mad by the Furies, forced to wander around Greece until they were finally pardoned by Apollo and Athena.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- In The Inferno, Electra is one of the many virtuous pagan souls whom Dante meets while traveling through Limbo. She is praised for her fortitude under her mother's constant cruelty, and for insisting on avenging the murder of her father. The game, however, condemns her to suffer for her actions.
- She is the heroine of a play by Sophocles that bears her name.
- In Jungian psychology, there is a condition named after her: the Electra complex. It is the reversed gender version of the Oedipus complex, in which a daughter lusts for her father, and seeks to eliminate or replace her mother. This is something of a misnomer; in the original myth, Electra had never lusted for nor had sexual relations with her father, Agamemnon, and was not motivated to kill her mother for such a reason. She was instead motivated by years of abuse and the concept of miasma: a blood curse caused by the killing of others. Miasma haunts those of the deceased's family unless that wrongful death is avenged, hence Electra's determination that Clytemnestra dies for the king's murder. The mythological figure more fitting to the Electra complex profile was Myrrha, another of the Damned found in Hell to be absolved or condemned by Dante. She is placed lower in Hell for fraudulence (tricking her father into sleeping with her by means of a disguise).