This paper argues that Aeschylus systematically distorts normative ritual paradigms of oath-taking for dramatic purposes. Oaths in Aeschylus tend to be conspiratorial and/or political in nature. In the Oresteia, conspiratorial oaths will conform to the general pattern evident throughout the trilogy where perverted or inverted images in Agamemnon become ambivalent in Libation Bearers and are restored to their auspicious context in Eumenides. Political oaths, however, remain anomalous throughout the trilogy up to the conclusion of Eumenides with the oath of alliance between Argos and Athens, and it is argued that these anomalies imply an ambiguous position vis-à-vis the alliance.

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