Agamemnon Essay

Submitted By xcchic
Words: 1257
Pages: 6

Madison Soltys
Professor Laura Field
Classical Quest for Justice 106-002
11 September 2014
Clytemnestra: Queen of Argos Clytemnestra could well be deemed one of the most dangerous and treacherous women in Greek mythology. Undoubtedly, she was guilty of a number of acts of evil, including adultery and the murder of her own husband, King Agamemnon and his concubine, Cassandra. However, many readers differ on their feelings towards Clytemnestra. In Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, Clytemnestra is struck as the protagonist, and the anguish she suffered at the hands of her husband is emphasized more than her crimes against him. Some argue that Clytemnestra’s murderous actions are justified on the pretense that her daughter, Iphigenia, was Agamemnon’s sacrifice to appease the Gods and bring him and his men to the foothills of Troy. Nevertheless, Clytemnestra act of vengeance goes far beyond the death of her daughter to reveal her true character, motives and intelligence. After agreeing to wage war on Troy and bring back Helen, the wife of Menelaus, Agamemnon had to face a difficult decision on the voyage to Troy. He either had to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia to appease the God’s or face returning to Argos without having won back his brother’s wife and honor (210). While it could be said that the murder of his daughter was a justified action as a matter of the good of the state over the good of his family, it can be just as rightly held that the sacrifice was simply to support his own blood thirsty ambition and pride. While Agamemnon does show guilt and inner conflict for what he does, saying; “‘Obey, obey, or a heavy doom will crush me!/ Oh but doom will crush me/ once I rend my child,/ the glory of my house-/ a father’s hands are stained,/ blood of a young girl streaks the altar./ Pain both ways and what is worse?’( 205-215)” , it is this sacrifice that incurs the wrath of Clytemnestra and eventually seals Agamemnon’s fate. Clytemnestra, as Iphigenia’s mother, cares nothing of Agamemnon’s war, or his brother’s honor. Although the sacrifice of Iphigenia can be defined as one of the most motivating factors contributing to reasons why Clytemnestra murder her husband, other factors are discussed throughout the play as well. During the play the audience is left questioning whether or not Agamemnon is the protagonist or the antagonist. Unlike classical tragic protagonists, Agamemnon's flaws are dishonorable. Despite Agamemnon's long absence from Argos, he does not greet his wife with words of pleasure as she does to him. Instead, he passes her by coldly and flaunts his mistress, Cassandra, in front of Clytemnestra and the Chorus. “Done is done./ Escort this stranger in, be gentle./ Conquer with compassion. Then the gods/ shine down upon you, gently. No one chooses/ the yoke of slavery, not of one’s free will/ and least of all. The gift of the armies,/ flower and pride of all the wealth we won,/ she follows me from Troy (950).”
Through this passage, Agamemnon presents to us another dishonorable flaw in his character during this dialogue between he and his wife. Even thought this is not the main factor in the death of Agamemnon and Cassandra, it demonstrates the potential to be deemed a contributing component to the murders. Prior to the murder of Agamemnon, it is reviled how truly intelligent Clytemnestra is. In the patriarchal society of Argos, it is a preconceived notion that Clytemnestra loses respect by those citizens of the city as well as the well respected elders, simply because she is a women. Even though the leader of the elders states that Clytemnestra has many masculine qualities (355), she is still questioned and her theories are undermined because of her gender. However, Clytemnestra proves to be holding her own while she has undertaken the throne and has seemingly set up a successful messenger system of fire goblets to let the city know that Troy has fallen. “And I ordained it all./ Torch to torch, running for their…