Electra in Mexico strikes back

March 18, 2023

From the March-April 2023 issue of News & Letters

Electra, the character from the Greek tragedy, is the daughter of Agamemnon, who was murdered by his wife and her lover. Electra wants to avenge him, but she has no chance beating the new alpha in combat. She needs Orestes, her brother, but he hasn’t returned from war, neither do we know whether he is alive. Chrysothemis, her sister, is at home, but lacking Electra’s fiercefulness she can barely face her own mother, Clytemnestra, betrayer of the bloodline.

Electra at the tomb of Agamemnon, painted by Frederic Leighton, 1869. Photo: Wikimedia

Electra’s anger grows impotently until one day Orestes comes back. She brings him up to date, he grabs the axe and kills Aegisthus, the enemy, and executes his own mother with the same weapon. Then he is persecuted for years by the Erinyes (Furies), the daughters of the Earth, for the unspeakable crime of matricide.

Greek tragedies occur once again in our everyday lives, although with different forms and characters. In “The hell of normalized domestic violence” (see N&L July-Aug. 2022), I described my grandmother’s situation, attacked at home by one of her “sons” and taken advantage of economically by another—a double aggression but not one perceived so by her other two sons or the rest of the “family.”


My mother, the first born and only daughter of my grandmother and grandfather, struck back. She has acquired the legal custody of my grandmother to protect her. My so-called “uncles,” who have patronized my mother until this point, are now “dazed and confused.” They never thought their “poor little sister” would pick up the gloves and fight back. Now she has, and the first hearing is scheduled on March 8—International Women’s Day. Let all the vengeful goddesses be with us that day!

—Electra’s son

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