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In Greek mythology, Pylades (pronounced /ˈpaɪlədiːz/, Gk. Πυλάδης) is the son of King Strophius of Phocis and of Anaxibia, daughter of Atreus and sister of Agamemnon and Menelaus[1]. He is mostly known for his strong friendship or homosexual relationship with his cousin Orestes, son of Agamemnon.


Orestes and Pylades

Orestes had been sent to Phocis during his mother Clytemnestra's affair with Aegisthus. There he was raised with Pylades, and so considered him to be like a brother. While Orestes was away, Clytemnestra killed her husband, Orestes' father Agamemnon.

Death of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra

As an adult, Orestes returns to Mycenae/Argos seeking revenge for the death of Agamemnon. With his friend Pylades' assistance, he slays Orestes' mother Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. While Pylades seems to be a very minor character, he is arguably the most vital piece of Orestes' plan to avenge his father. In The Libation Bearers, the second play of Aeschylus' trilogy Orestia, Pylades speaks only once. His lines come at the moment Orestes begins to falter and second guess his decision to kill his mother. It is Pylades who convinces Orestes to follow through with his plan for revenge and carry out the murder. The significance of Pylades' lines has invited speculation into whether or not he might represent something more than human next to Orestes; he might play the role of divine encouragement or fate. Regardless, Pylades is far more than Orestes' silent companion in Aeschylus' The Libation Bearers. [2]

Pylades accompanies Orestes, but does not speak in other versions of Orestes' and Electra's revenge story: Sophocles' Electra and Euripides' Electra. In Sophocles' version Orestes pretends to be dead and Pylades carries the urn supposedly holding his friend's remains.

Attempted murder of Helen

Pylades returned to his homeland, but was exiled by his father for taking part in the crime. He then returned to Orestes' side, where he helped him to come up with a plan to avoid execution. They attempted to murder Helen, wife of Orestes' uncle Menelaus, after he proved to be of no help in protecting Orestes. However, their attempt failed through the intervention of the Gods. They then took hostage Hermione, daughter of Helen and Menelaus. Apollo arrived to settle the situation and gave them all instructions, including one for Pylades to marry Orestes' sister Electra.

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