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πράκτοῤ, one who exacts a penalty; an avenger: as the Erinyes are “πράκτορες αἵματος” ( Aesch. Eum. 319). At Athens the “πράκτορες” were officials who collected fines and penalties (“ἐπιβολαί, τιμήματα”) imposed by law. We have a similar figurative use of a technical term in Soph. Ai. 508μητέρα” | “πολλῶν ἐτῶν κληροῦχον”: and in Aesch. Eum. 273 the word for an ‘auditor’ who examined the accounts of magistrates is applied to the king of the nether world; “μέγας γὰρ Ἅιδης ἐστὶν εὔθυνος βροτῶν”. There are Shakespearian parallels; e.g., Lear (act 3, sc. 2, 59) calls the raging elements ‘these dreadful summoners’ (officers who warned offenders to appear in court): Hamlet (act 5, sc. 2, Aesch. Eum. 347) speaks of ‘this fell sergeant, death’: and death is ‘that fell arrest without all bail’ (Sonn. 74, 1).

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hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (6):
    • Aeschylus, Eumenides, 273
    • Aeschylus, Eumenides, 319
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 508
    • William Shakespeare, King Lear, 3.2
    • William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, 5.2
    • William Shakespeare, Sonnets, lxxiv
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