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After reading Agamemnon, I have come to the conclusion that Greek mythology can cause many debates. One of the debates that could be referenced from this story was rather or not Agamemnon deserved his fate. Some critics would say he did after he killed his innocent daughter, as a sacrifice. Some critics would say he was killed because he left his wife at home for ten years. Those ten years while they were apart, Clytaemestra had time to let all of her anger and hostility boil up inside of her. He was portrayed as an arrogant man.
Another thing that condemned him was when he walked on the purple carpet. "She knew that by saying "If Priam had won as you have, what would he have done?" (935). Even though his wife coaxed him, his cowardliness in doing so shows his true side. He was very arrogant about the war, acting as if him alone won the war. All of his arrogance and betraying his family killing his daughter lead to his death. Another debate is what kind of women Clytaemestra is.
Clytemnestra is portrayed as strong willed woman. This characteristic is not necessarily typical of women of her time. Her most important characteristic is like the watchman calls it, 'male strength of heart.' Later in the play after Clytemnestra murders her husband, Agamemnon, and his concubine, Cassandra, she reveals her driving force and was has spurned all of her actions until this point. The Chorus sees Clytemnestra as untrustworthy and although suspicious of her they still could not foresee the impending murders. Her words are plain but her meaning hidden to all those around her. She more or less alludes to her plan of murder without fear of being detected.
Only the audience can seem to understand the double meaning in her words. One example of how Clytemnestra hides meanings in otherwise plain words is stated in her hope that Agamemnon and his soldiers do not commit any sacrilege in Troy that might offend the gods. Now must they pay due respect to the gods that inhabit the town, the gods of the conquered land, or their victory may end in their own destruction after all. Too soon for their safety, the soldiery, seized with greed, may yield to their covetousness and lay hands on forbidden spoil. They have still to bring themselves home, have still the backward arm of the double course to make. And if no sin against heaven rest on the returning host, there is the wrong of the dead that watches.
This can be interpreted in two ways. The first being that her wish for Agamemnon to return safely is so she may kill him herself. The second is that of sarcasm. Perhaps she really does wish for Agamemnon to upset the gods. That way when she murders him she will divine sanction. Another instance that there is a double meaning in her words is in her pleadings to the herald to take this message back to Agamemnon, 'let him come with speed to the people that love him, come to find in his home the wife faithful, even such as he left her, a very house-dog, loyal to one and an enemy to his foes...
.' The audience knows this to be untrue because not only has she not been faithful, but also the person she was unfaithful with is the rival to Agamemnon's crown, his cousin Aegisthus. Time and again in the play her strength is demonstrated when she forces Agamemnon, Aegisthus, and the Elders of Argos to bend to her will. For example, she influences the Elders to sacrifice to the gods for Agamemnon's safe return and temporarily wins their trust and support. In fact they sing her praises for suggesting it by saying, than no man could speak smarter than her. Her shrewdness is also shown by the way she coaxes her husband into submission.
She wants him to walk on rich purple tapestries in hopes that this would anger the gods and they will aid her in his murder. She does so by challenging his manhood like in the statement, 'Then let not blame of men make you ashamed.' In which she is basically calling him a 'chicken'. He gives in and takes off his sandals and walks on the tapestries even though he fears it may not please the gods. She single-handedly plots the murder of Agamemnon and Cassandra. According to Clytemnestra, she believes she is doing right, because he had been unfaithful to her and killed their daughter.
Once again her persuasive tactics are put to good use as she tries to persuade the Elders that she was correct in killing their king, The Elders are shocked not only to find their king dead, but at the hand of his wife, and now she has the audacity to say she is right. They threaten to cast her out in exile, but she asked why she must be banished for killing the very person who sacrificed her child. But Clytemnestra with her cunning ways justifies this double murder by stating how her husband was unfaithful with many women. After fighting back and forth over the matter, the Elders are torn between love of their king and whether Clytemnestra was right in killing him.
Clytemnestra believes that she was in the will of the gods because she was seeking revenge not only for her sacrificed daughter, but Agamemnon's cousins (the brothers of Aegisthus, Clytemnestra's lover). She was carrying out punishment for being unfaithful. According to her, she was 'allowed' by the gods because of these and other repeated sins toward them (walking on the tapestries) as well as carrying out the curse of his household. This situation arouses mixed emotions in the Elders and perhaps the same in the readers. Unlike most stories, Agamemnon was a story in which minor characters were important. The Watchman, whose speech opens the play, is particularly noteworthy.
His complaints about his tiresome duty and his worries over the state of the city -- together with his obvious, sincere joy at the news of his king's victory -- make him a realistic, multifaceted, human character. His combination of anticipation and foreboding, meanwhile, establishes the mood of the play; the King's return is an occasion for celebration, and yet a sense of fear looms over Argos, a premonition of terrible events waiting to happen. The Herald is another of Aeschylus' carefully depicted minor characters. In terms of the plot, he exists only to bring news of Agamemnon's impending arrival, but his passionate delight in returning home and his bitter account of the horrors of the Trojan War make him a sympathetic character. His description of the army's sufferings outside Troy is vivid and powerful: 'Were I to tell you of the hard work done, the nights / exposed, the cramped sea-quarters, the foul beds /... why must a live man count the numbers of the slain?' (555-569) The Herald's words undermine the notion of wartime glory and heroism, yet the Herald immediately puts the horrors of battle behind him and embraces the glory of victory: 'I call a long farewell to all our unhappiness.
/ For us, survivors of the Argive armament, / the pleasure wins, pain casts no weight in the opposite scale' (571-73). This was a very impressive story, though I do think it should have been called Clytemnestra. It was unlike most stories by having minor roles play such a big part, but the controversial parts of this story were like most modern stories. I would read this story again in the future.
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