Of what interest would an Oedipus be who fell victim to the fate of marrying, say, his aunt?
Bert States, Irony and Drama
The Orestes is the most Euripidean of all Euripidean plays, reflecting his typical techniques, emphases, interests, and outlook. All the familiar signs are present and perceptible: for example, novelty of plot, rapidity and multiplicity of action, sensationalism and theatrical virtuosity, lyrical experimentation, increase in the cast of characters on stage, comic and melodramatic elements, the illusion-reality game, the ergon-logos paradox, the use of cliché and rhetoric, a focus on the phenomenon of alienation, on the psychopathology of characters, their natural victimage and their subsequent retaliatory reflex, the secularization of myth, the questioning of inherited values, and compensatory themes of philia and sōtēria, etc. etc.
What marks the difference in this play is the extent to which these implications are carried out, the outer limits to which these techniques are pushed; it is a question of intensification, escalation, a question of a relentless drive towards the achievement of a theatrical ‘style which deliberately exhausts (or tries to exhaust) its possibilities and borders on its own caricature,’ to quote Borges' definition of his own baroque technique. Yet the aesthetic boldness of the play's excesses moves it out beyond any formal definitions and limitations, beyond parody, beyond outrage into another mode, one might say, to a new level of self-consciousness and authorial extravagance that does not seem to have existed before. And it is a play whose surface of seeming incoherence, instability and chaos is, in reality, under that kind of artistic control that brings about that fusion of form and content we call art, even as it always seems to be trying to escape from it.