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Electra or Elektra is a Greek tragic play by Sophocles. Its date is not known, but various stylistic similarities with the Philoctetes and the Oedipus at Colonus lead scholars to suppose that it was written towards the end of Sophocles' career.
In Greek mythology, Electra was daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra.Electra was absent from Mycenae when her father, King Agamemnon, returned from the Trojan War to be murdered by Aegisthus, Clytemnestra's lover, and/or by Clytemnestra herself. Aegisthus and Clytemnestra also killed Cassandra, Agamemnon's war prize, a prophet priestess of Troy. Eight years later Electra was brought from Athens with her brother, Orestes
When King Agamemnon returned from the Trojan War with his new concubine, Cassandra, his wife Clytemnestra kills them. Clytemnestra believes the murder was justified, since Agamemnon had sacrificed their daughter before the war, as commanded by the gods. Electra, daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, rescued her infant brother Orestes from her mother by sending him to Strophius of Phocis. The play begins years later when Orestes has returned as a grown man with a plot for revenge.
Orestes arrives with his friend Pylades, son of Strophius, and a paedagogus. Their plan is to have the pedagogue announce that Orestes has died in a chariot accident, and that two men are arriving shortly to deliver his remains.
Electra mourns over her father. She bitterly argues first with her sister Chrysothemis over her housing with her father's killers, and then with her mother over her father's murder. Her only hope is that one day her brother will return to take revenge from him. When the messenger pulls in with news of the death of Orestes, Clytemnestra is thankful to hear it. Electra however is shocked. Chrysothemis then concludes that Orestes has returned. Electra dismisses her arguments; sure that Orestes is now dead. She suddenly turns to her sister with a proposal to kill Aegisthus, but Chrysothemis refuses to help, pointing out the impracticability of the plan.
After a choral ode Orestes arrives, carrying the urn supposedly containing his ashes. He does not recognize Electra, nor she him. He gives her the urn and she delivers a moving lament over it, unaware that her brother is in fact standing alive next to her. Now realizing the truth, Orestes reveals his identity to his emotional sister. She is overjoyed that he is alive, but in their excitement they nearly reveal his identity, and the paedagogus comes out from the palace to urge them on.
Orestes and Pylades enter the house and slay his mother Clytemnestra. As Aegisthus returns home, they quickly put her corpse under a sheet and present it to him as the body of Orestes. He lifts the veil to discover who it really is, and Orestes then reveals himself. They escort Aegisthus off set to be killed at the hearth, the same location Agamemnon was slain. The play ends here, before the death of Aegisthus is announced.
The story of Orestes' revenge was told at the end of the lost epic Nostoi, and the events are also brought up in the Odyssey. It was a popular subject in Greek tragedies, and there are existing versions from all three of the great Athenian tragedians. The first and largest is the Libation Bearers in the Oresteia Trilogy by Aeschylus. Euripides wrote an Electra play. He tells a very different version of this same basic story as Sophocles despite them being written in proximity and time.