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Orestes by A Perfect Circle

Album: Mer de NomsReleased: 2000
  • This song is based on the feelings of a character in the Greek drama Orestes, written by Aeschylus. Orestes is forced by the Gods to kill his mother, and this deed tortures him. Therefore, the line "Gotta cut away, clear away, snip away and sever this umbilical residue keeping me from killing you..." He's attempting to forget she is his mother so it easier for him to kill her. (thanks, angel - ebensburg, PA)
  • This song can be referring to Maynard's childhood. Maynard was abused as a child, emotionally and physically. In this song, he is talking about how he often wanted to kill his parental figure who was abusing him but couldn't because of the emotional attachment that he has to them just by being their son: "Umbilical residue, keeping me from killing you." This is a topic Maynard has mentioned in other Tool songs, including "H." (thanks, Alex - Salina, KS)
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Comments: 23

@Ryenn, good interpretation but I would like to add that the references he makes to 10,000 days in the last tool album is not how long she was in a coma, but rather how long she struggled with terminal illness including paralysis.J.j. - Rosemount, Mn
I see a lot of off the mark interpretations of this song. Orestes is simply Maynard making an allusion to the mythos because his situation was similar. There's a wonderful alternate version of the song on YouTube that has slightly different lyrics that truly shed more light on the song.
Maynard wrote this while his mother was in a coma due to extended(possibly terminal) illness. The song is about his thoughts and feelings on the choice that he was given by her doctors. Either wait for an impossible recovery, or end her life. This song is his way of coming to terms with his decision. I'll break it down verse by verse:

"Metaphor for a missing moment
Pull me into your perfect circle
One womb(wound in another version)
One shape(shame in another version)
One resolve"

There's also an alternate lyric set that goes:
"Picture a Parish in a playground
Innocent faces in a circle
Tiny hands hold 'round the edges
A fret for every gentle moment
My heart high above their heads
On a billowing diaphram of memories
And i struggle to catch a glimpse of you
But I'm bound by webs of habit"

This is about memories of her as a child, and not being able to let go.
In the chorus he talks about wanting to "cut away, clear away, snip away and sever this umbilical residue". This means he's trying to set his want to futilely keep her alive. And the part about wanting "one more medicated peaceful moment" could mean he's been taking either prescribed or self medicated drugs so he doesn't have to feel the "overwhelming hostility" that he feels. And the part about Orestes mythos? It's just him referencing the similar plight he has to the mythological character. Overall, this is a beautifully haunting song. And is my personal favorite.
Sarah - Phoenix, Az
The Oresteia was definitely written by Aeschylus, not Euripides. Euripides wrote the Bacchae among other things. Nonetheless, the symbolism of this song is still sweet.Stephen - Atlanta, Ga
one of my favorite song of APC,this song was outstanding....with maynard's dreamy vocals and accompanied by billy howerdrel's and troy van leeuwens haunting guitar riffs makes this song darker and gloomyAldrin - Manila, Philippines
this song is about pulling the chord when his mother was in a coma for 10,000 days,"just one more medicated peaceful moment""sevre this umbilical residue thtas keeping me from KILLING you"becuase it was up to maynard to pull the plug and he finally gave up hope on her comming out of the coma so he did it.....Ryenn - Augusta, Me
The Oresteia was written by Aeschylus NOT Euripides.
It is made of three plays: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides.
The Second play deals with the matricide of Clytemnestra by Orestes at the request of his sister Electra in vengeance of their father Agamemnon.

Whilst i really enjoy his bands Maynard's pretensions are frequently vomitous. he's so far up is own butt sometimes it's a freakin joke. he's so samey... get a new melody!!!
Hooksh - Melbourne, Australia
I feel that music should be taken however you want it to be taken! But i will leave my comment about this song anyway. Maynard's mother was or is i cant remember if she still is very sick and i think in this song he is saying how he feels like Orestes because if he could he would kill her to end the pain but he would never do that.Caleb - ?, Pa
I think all of you are right in a way. anyone can belive whatever they want but what matters is that this song is amazingly deep, the sole reason i fell in love with APC in the first place and three libras is on par with it...Romesa - Lahore, Pakistan
the title "orestes" was a suffix given to someone in old roman(latin) days that meant that your mother died in childbirth. following the lyrics you should see that this is what maynard had in mind when he wrote the song.Grey - Griffith, In
I totally agree with Chris, Pine Blizzy, AR. Music should be interpreted by the listener and it can mean whatever you'd like it to mean.Cel - Philadelphia, Pa
I LOVE this song... A perfect circle is an awesome band.Amanda The Stampede - Cincinnati, Oh
I agree with Erin, in a interveiw I found on the internet Maynard and Howerdel(gutiar). Talk about the belief of drawing a perfect circle freehand and how the idea of nameing the band A perfect circle just seemed right to them,and the other band members. Oh yeah this is my favorite APC song.Jonathan - Fort Worth, Tx
I think Maynard would like to kill you all. It's MUSIC it never has a specific meaning. Music is created for YOU to create your own interpretation. Yes, maybe he wrote the song for a specific reason, but just let the music take you away and screw what the hell it means. It's fine if you want to have your own interpretation of it but don't get on here and act like you know what the hell your talking about, because more than likely u don't.Chris - Pine Blizzy, Ar
Have any of you ever made the connection with (orestes) and (the noose).Ok orestes says"One womb
One shape
One resolve

Liberate this will
To release us all

Gotta cut away, clear away
Snip away and sever this
Umbilical residue that's
Keeping me from killing you"
ok it sounds like he is talking about abortion
Then in the noose he says "How you're planning to go about
Making your amends to the dead
To the dead

Recall the deeds as if
They're all someone else's
Atrocious stories "
I see this as him refering to the person who just got the abortion"
Hugo - Glendale, Az
To seb, Just like APC's songs have several have several meanings, the name of the band probably does to. So dont act like you know everythingRobert - Seattle, Wa
Agamemnon left for Troy with orders to a trusted bard to guard Agamemnon's wife, Clytemenstra. However, Aegisthus shipped the bard off and marooned him on an island. And from there, Aegisthus seduced Clytemenstra, and more or less ruled with her. Then Agamemnon came back from Troy, and Clytemenstra told Aegisthus to kill him, as she no londer loved him, and loved Aegisthus. Aegisthus did so, and again, the two ruled together.

Prince Orestes is the son of Agamemnon, so thus, he'd be pissed. He avenged his father by killing Aegisthus, and since his mother betrayed him and his father, and all of their people, he killed her too.
Ky - San Diego, Ca
when it comes to the name of the band, isn't it possible that it's not supposed to be A Perfect Circle but instead Aperfect Circle. i don't know if aperfect is a word but whenever "a" is at the beginning of a world it means that it's the opposite. it makes sense if you look at APC's logo. as for Orestes it's a very haunting song and i love itGalen - Waldorf, Md
Orestes was pressed to kill his mother and her lover by the delphi and his oler sister Electra. The reason he did it was to avenge the death of his father. I don't know much about Maynards history, but what I got from the song was pretty much the same as Angel and Alex. He wishes she wasn't his mother so he could kill her. As far as the band name argument, I aggree with Erin.Patch - Bangor, Me
to end the arguement over the name, in an interview they state they stole a perfect circle from someone describing the friendship the bandmates had. everyone else is wrongSeb - Duluth, Ga
The name 'A Perfect Circle' comes from the belief that if you can draw a perfect circle freehand, your mind is on a different level from the rest of mankind. Da Vinci was the first person noted ever to do this.

I guess Maynard is trying to say that he feels that his mind/ideals are quite different from the rest of the world.
Erin - Cairns, Austria
maynard took the name for a perfect circle from the line in this song: "pull me into your perfect circle".Reed - Hagerstown, In
I think most of Perfect Circle songs are beautiful.Ian - New York, Ny
this is the most beautifully played song I have EVER heard!!!Ryan - Salt Lake City, Ut