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Orestes’ participation in the Chariot Race at Delphi alludes to Sophocles Electra 680-763.  Admonished by the Delphic Oracle to avenge his father’s murder, Orestes goes to Mycenae and sends his tutor to the palace to tell his mother that he was killed during the Delphic games.

In Seferis Orestes wishes for this death in order to avoid his ‘debt’ to commit matricide. Seferis’ Orestes apprears to be anti-heroic and tired.

The chariot race, with the circular movements of the chariots, is used by Seferis metaphorically to indicate the vicious circle of family crime/revenge in which Orestes is caught up.

This theme of ‘perpetual crime/revenge’ is heightened by the repetition of a number of words (σφενδόνη (3), άξονας (3) πόσοι/πόσες etc). In this way the poem appears to ‘perform’ the vicious circle of revenge which thematises.  



The name is Orestes  (Ὄνομα δ’ Ὀρέστης)

The locution is a verbatim allusion to Sophocles’ Electra 694.


Mythic Characters


Capri-Karka, C. 1985. War in the poetry of George Seferis, New York, at 33.   

Demesticha, A. 1996. ‘Το τραγικό πρόσωπο του Ορέστη στο Βάρναλη και στο Σεφέρη’, Nea Estia 140 (Sept.): 1208-17.

Karayianis, S. 1991. ‘Μυθική μέθοδος και δραματοποιημένος λόγος. Δυνατότητες εκφοράς στο “όνομα δ’ Ορέστης”  (Μυθιστόρημα ΙΣΤ)’, Grafi Larisas  13-14 (Wint.-Spr.): 93-101.

Maronitis, D. N. 1984. ‘Προβλήματα γραφής και ανάγνωσης στον Σεφέρη’, Κύκλος Σεφέρη, Athens, 127-92.  / ‘ Tα όρια της Ανάγνωσης και η συνωμοσία των ποιημάτων»

Οrphanidis, N. 1985. Η πολιτική διάσταση της ποίησης του Γιώργου Σεφέρη, Αthens.

Trivizas, S. 1984. ‘Ο μύθος των Ατρειδών στη σεφερική ποίηση’, Porphyras 23 (Jun.): 237-47.

Tsianikas, M. 1999. ‘Σεφέρης: Aρματοδρομίες’, Porphyras 92 (Oct.– Dec.): 182-98.

Tziovas, D. 1996. ‘Ritsos’ Orestes: the politics of myth and the anarchy of rhetoric’, in P. Mackridge (ed.) Ancient Greek Myth in Modern Greek Poetry. Essays in memory of C.A. Trypanis. London-Portland, 67-79.


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