Agamemnon is a tragic play written by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus. It is the first play in a trilogy known as the Oresteia, which explores the themes of justice, revenge, and the cycle of violence.
In the play, Agamemnon is the king of Argos and the leader of the Greek forces in the Trojan War. He has just returned home after a ten-year absence, during which time he has been fighting in the war and has been away from his wife, Clytemnestra.
Upon his return, Clytemnestra greets him with open arms and a warm welcome, but it quickly becomes clear that she has been plotting against him. She has been having an affair with another man, Aegisthus, and together they have planned to kill Agamemnon in revenge for his own actions during the war.
One of the most notable things about Agamemnon is the character of Clytemnestra. In ancient Greek plays, female characters were often portrayed as scheming and manipulative, and Clytemnestra is no exception. However, Aeschylus gives her a depth and complexity that is unusual for a female character in an ancient Greek play.
While Clytemnestra's actions are driven by her desire for revenge, she is also motivated by a sense of justice. Agamemnon has sacrificed their daughter, Iphigenia, as an offering to the gods in order to gain favorable winds for the Trojan War, and Clytemnestra sees his actions as an unforgivable betrayal. In her mind, killing Agamemnon is not just an act of revenge, but also a way of seeking justice for their daughter's death.
Another key theme in Agamemnon is the idea of the cycle of violence. Throughout the play, characters are driven by their desire for revenge, and this leads to a cycle of violence that ultimately destroys the family. Agamemnon's murder sets off a chain of events that will eventually lead to the deaths of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, and the eventual rise of Agamemnon's son, Orestes, to seek revenge for his father's death.
In conclusion, Agamemnon is a complex and thought-provoking play that explores themes of justice, revenge, and the cycle of violence. Aeschylus's portrayal of Clytemnestra as a complex and multifaceted character adds depth and nuance to the play, and the themes of the play continue to resonate with audiences today.
Agamemnon Plot Analysis
Agamemnon, Menelaus's brother, both of the house of Atreus, vows to travel with Menelaus to retrieve Helen and declare war on the Trojans. Although he is a well-respected leader, he does not have strong resolve and can be convinced to act against his better judgment. Exegesis in Iliadem 1. According to Greek mythology, the Trojan War began as a result of Paris, a Trojan prince, stealing Helen, who was married to the Greek king Menelaus. She enters into the palace to meet her fate. Kristy Bowen Kristy Bowen has an M. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics.
The first significant violent development in the play is the theft of Helen and the Trojan War that followed; again and again, the Chorus declares that even the deaths following the conflict should be dropped at Helen's door. The Chorus sings a song pointing out that Agamemnon sacrificed his own daughter, Iphigenia, to ensure good winds on the way to Troy. She tells of how Apollo gave her the gift of prophecy but then cursed her. Neither man is willing to compromise or to accept a seemingly lower status within the heroic code, and so their quarrel over Briseis results in a tragic breach between the two — one that creates a central conflict in the Iliad. With a trilogy, Aeschylus was able to cover more ground, incorporating a longer span of action and more than one location. Of the plays in the trilogy, Agamemnon contains the strongest command of language and characterization. And yet there, one could observe that initial spark to which our beautiful modern light is linked.
The Watchman reveals that Argos has been living without its king for ten years. Some accounts say that he worked on a vineyard until Dionysus, the god of wine and theatre, visited him in a vision and told him to become a playwright. The play has been re-enacted a plethora of times and it reverberated through the perspective of the producers influenced through the genre of their day. The costumes varied in each enactment. He does not trust his troops blindly, but tests their loyalty, as in Book 2.
The Watchman, in a joyous state, cries out that the Trojan War is over, and he jumps up to inform Clytemnestra. As a whole, The Oresteia charts the shift in Greek society from personal revenge to a criminal justice system. He doesn't think that Clytemnestra, Agamemnon's wife, is managing things very well. How else could I act on my hate for such a hateful man, who feigned his love, how else prepare my nets of agony so high no one could jump them? It also turns out that Clytemnestra and Aegisthus are now lovers. For this reason, the first song of the chorus is called the par odos or eis odos because the chorus enters at this time , although the subsequent ones are called stasima, standing songs. One of two brothers remaining from the House of Atreus, Agamemnon is killed by his wife in retaliation for sacrificing their daughter, Iphigenia, to Artemis before the war. A Watchman, stationed on top of the palace, waits for a signal fire indicating that the ten-year Trojan War between the Greeks and the Trojans has come to an end.
The actors would have worn character masks so that the huge audience could distinguish whom each performer represented. They were many re-enactments of the play during the Greco-Roman times, Romanticism Era, as well as the Renaissance era. Finally, the sacrifice of Iphigenia—necessary for Agamemnon to pursue the Greek war of revenge against the Trojans—begins one cycle of revenge that is central to the play. So sweet it is to 'scape the press of pain. Even before his aristea, Agamemnon is considered to be one of the three best warriors on the Greek side, as proven when Hector challenges any champion of the Greek side to fight him in Book 7, and Agamemnon along with Diomedes and Ajax the Greater is one of the three Hector most wishes to fight out of the nine strongest Greek warriors who volunteer. A Herald enters and confirms that Troy has indeed fallen, and recounts some of the hardships of the war. In book 1, following one of the Agamemnon then received a dream from Zeus telling him to rally his forces and attack the Trojans in book 2.
When he commits wrongs, he does so not out of blind rage and frustration like Achilles, but out of amoral, self-serving cunning. He succeeds but, in retaliation for matricide, is pursued by the Furies, mythical monsters whose sole purpose was to punish men's wrongs. The Chorus wonders if she has become maddened by some type of potion and says she'll be exiled. The trilogy as a whole invites us to question whether such vengeance is just. From the gods enthroned on the awesome rowing-bench there comes a violent love. Trilogies like The Oresteia were usually performed over the course of one entire day, sometimes interjected or capped off with a satyr play, a lighter performance intended to lighten the mood of the audience.
Oxford: Clarendon Press; p. The Chorus says they will stone him, ignoring the presence of his retainers. Patrick Rourke The Watchman wore rags and seedy clothing to demonstrate is a humble state. Oxford: Oxford University Press. And Clytemnestra duly does so, stabbing Agamemnon in the bath and then killing Cassandra. Pierre-Narcisse Guerin: Clytemnestra The subsequent plays, The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides, chart the return of Orestes, Agamemnon's son, to Argos.
Agamemnon Summary After the Trojan War, the Watchmen wait on the roof of the castle for news of Greek victory over the Trojans. She knows she will be killed, but still enters the house. In Agamemnon, it is still in a time when grudges and vengeance drives individuals to commit murder in the name of justice. Almost immediately, the reader sees that Agamemnon often allows his over-wrought emotions to govern major, critical decisions. Masks may have been used abundantly in the past, but now actors doing ancient plays relegated their own faces as masks with some adornment depending on what character one is portraying. Old Nestor frequently advises Agamemnon because Agamemnon needs counsel.