A Short Analysis of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon

There follows a long section of praise to the gods where after the chorus detail the events at Allis where Phasing the daughter Of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon is sacrificed by Agamemnon. Before this he deliberates over the act but in the end decides to go ahead with it and his ruthlessness is accentuated in the description of his daughters sacrifice “here, gag her hard a sound will curse the house” Before Agamemnon or Clytemnestra speak the description of Phasing is a bad mark on Agamemnon and a point of sympathy for Clytemnestra.

Phasing and Helen are two women who are not featured in the lay but are referred to repeatedly by the Chorus and Clytemnestra among others. The events of the Agamemnon and the background in this Choral Ode allude to the fact that the story is a series of social injustices from Paris’ stealing to Helen, to Agamemnon murder to his daughter, and finally Clytemnestra murder of her husband, The theme of host and guest is repeatedly used (Clytemnestra is a form of host as she welcomes Agamemnon home). This chain of suffering continues throughout the Roasters.

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The chorus resumes their normal roles and begins a conversation with Clytemnestra. 3). Clytemnestra and the leader of the Chorus: II The leader of the chorus approaches Clytemnestra and asks her what the commotion is, to which she replies the Greeks have finally taken the city of Troy, again she likens her signal fires to the dawn of a new day. The leader initially reacts with disbelief and doubt of Clytemnestra “a phantom spirit sends you into raptures” and “liquidly rumor you haven’t indulged yourself-” to Which Clytemnestra is resentful and quick to defend herself “No one takes me in with visions D senseless dreams. Immediately demonstrating a manlike pride (similar to Made). She has ruled Argos for ten years now as is a strong woman and ruler. She enters a long speech listing places Which the Greeks would have known and boasts of her great achievement in constructing the chain of beacons that brought the news of the fall of Troy “and ordained it all, torch to torch, running for their lives” She is portrayed as a strong willed and clever woman something which Greek society considered to be very dangerous and unnatural.

O Clytemnestra begins a description of the fall of Troy the Greeks and the Trojan are likened to oil and water (which do not mix when added to each other) and he speaks of her wish that the Greeks do not desecrate any temples, perhaps because of her wish that Agamemnon return home so she may have her revenge. The leader (unaware of this secret desire) complements her on her insightful and surprisingly humane speech and further establishes her male qualities “spoken like a man, my lady” This gives the audience the account of the Trojan war as Aeschylus wished it portrayed to the audience for this rendition of the story. It is worth noting that even thought the Chorus are a group of the respected elders of Argos; Clytemnestra offers them little deference and respect. ). 2nd Choral Ode: to direct the audience, provide a time lapse and to praise the gods. o The second choral ode provides a time lapse to allow the herald of Agamemnon to arrive at Argos; it begins With praise to Zeus.

D The chorus praise the gods (as is fitting) and speak in more detail of the inevitability of justice “Bastions of wealth are no defense for the man Who treads the grand altar Of justice” and that if the gods to not deign to punish the father who committed crimes against them, his sons and family will inherit the curse of the sins of the father. Justice will be one and is absolute (the family of Auteur is cursed by the sins of their fathers Tantalus and Plops). C Many aspects of the Choral Ode point directly to Agamemnon fate and warn against committing hubris. Important focus for the second Choral Ode. 0 They also give the insight that wealth and desire for wealth breeds corruption and sin this is connected to Paris’ lust for Helen and in turn, they go on to say that the whole point of the Trojan war was for a wasteful cause creating so much grief for the families of the soldiers who died “All for another’s woman” perhaps belittling Agamemnon tether tort pursuing the Trojan so newly for no real gain to anyone except his brother. “God takes aim at those who murder many” points to Agamemnon death.

C There is a change of pace (bringing the audience back into the plays normal progression) and the chorus expresses their doubts that Clytemnestra knew so certainly of the tall of Troy. “Just like a woman to fill with thanks before the truth is clear. ” n As the leader takes over the speech of the chorus again he sees a herald running towards them. 5). The Arrival of the Herald: Dads the Herald approaches the leader of chorus recognizes the dust on his shoes as the native dirt Of Troy. But they are still skeptical Of Clytemnestra opinion even now and await the news from a man (demonstrating Greek opinions of the time).

The Herald praises the gods for his safe return as is proper, he then praises Agamemnon and portrays him as the returning conquering king “give him the royal welcome he deserves! ” contradictory to the view of Agamemnon as the ruthless murderer of his child in the first choral ode. D In the conversation that follows the leader ominously hints at the scheming ways of Clytemnestra by expressing the Chorus’s longing that the armies and their king return, “For ears now only my silence kept me from harm” is a particularly sinister indication that not all is as it seems in Argos.

The Heralds speech following this conversation first details the horror of the war and then the glory of the victory in the end, the glory is what the audience are left with and the impression they are left with is one of Agamemnon quest as a glorious and legendary one, but a very costly one all the same, “But why weep now? ” The Heralds celebrations are somewhat ironic considering the imminent death of his king and leader. Clytemnestra comes out to greet the herald and gloats over the truth of her signal fires again expressing the same man-like pride which she exhibited earlier.

She remarks at the joy of her husband’s return again making a significant comparison of this event as a “dawn”. 0 She begins to express her loyalty and longing for her husband however the speech is riddled with double meanings and she seems overly keen to have him home (for her revenge of course). She describes herself as “a watchdog gentle to him alone,” and again expresses her own pride. 0 She leaves and the leader of the chorus reinforces any suspicions the audience might have With “She speaks well, but it takes no seer to know she only says what’s right. ” All that she said can be reversed e. . A watchdog that waits to enact revenge on him alone. The Herald reveals that Menelaus was lost in a storm and then begins his second and final speech. In this speech he speaks of the fact that the gods saved the ship they were on (Agamemnon ship), but this does not necessarily mean they like him but are simply sending him home to be murdered by his wife. Menelaus may not be dead but has likely been kept away from Argos as to allow the punishment of Agamemnon to go along unhindered. Zeus would not want Menelaus dead but he is significantly not here to stop Clytemnestra. ), 3rd Choral Ode: to direct the audience, provide a time lapse and to praise the The third choral ode provides a time lapse to give Agamemnon time to catch up with the Herald. 0 The third choral ode insults Helen and Paris portraying them as distrustful, careless and evil people who don’t care for their actions and have brought the deaths of many Greek men and the fall of the Trojan people between them. Paris is compared to a lion who although well raised, could never escape his heritage as a beast. The chorus expresses the bad parents breed bad children (and visa versa for noble parents) belief.

In the case of Agamemnon cursed house, violence breeds new violence and wealth corrupts. The chorus expresses Aeschylus surprising idea that justice is found in good common people. “Justice shines in sotto hovels” C Agamemnon finally enters the play and the third choral Ode ends With complements and praise for Agamemnon “I say well fought and well won, the end is worth the labor”. They mention the worthless cause of the war “all for Helen” but praising the achievement and the king’s leadership all the same, saying they doubted him before but praise him now as victorious (adding to conflicting views about Agamemnon).

They greet Agamemnon and the king begins his opening speech. 7). Agamemnon Arrival: Agamemnon first act upon arriving safely back in Argos is to praise the gods which is the correct thing to do: he does not boast and happily attributes his success to the drawn lots of the gods “First, with justice salute my Argos and my gods,” and “we must thank the gods with a sacrifice our sons will long remember,” are good examples of this, D He goes on to portray the men of Greece as a lion lapping on the blood of kings, but he is not overly boastful or arrogant at this stage.

D He greets the chorus (the old men) and gives them the aspect they are due and thanks them for their pride in him “men with the character to praise a friend’s success without a trace of envy”. Lastly in his opening words he pays respect to those who fell in Troy and for heroes such as Odysseus and offers up yet another prayer to the gods “I give the gods my right hand, my first salute. The ones who sent me forth have brought me home. ” 0 Clytemnestra then begins her greeting to Agamemnon, again full Of double meanings and impressive dramatic Irony. N this speech she says “how I love the man” likely meaning Strategist instead Of Agamemnon, she also says how she as lonely and miserable (from the loss of one of her children only) and how she almost killed herself when she heard that Agamemnon may have been wounded (because she wished to enact her revenge and lives only for this “when a woman sits at home and the man is gone, the loneliness is terrible”. This whole speech is obviously an attempt to lull Agamemnon into a false sense of security and further establishes her portrayal as a manipulative woman.

CLC She goes on to say “our child is gone Rooster. You seem startled” seemingly bringing up the death of Phasing but then Wasting her speech as a way of telling him that his son has en sent away she claims to protect him from civil unrest etc in Argos (more likely so that he cannot stop Clytemnestra from murdering his father). She continues to butter him up and at one point call him “the father’s one true heir” alluding to Theses feast, where Auteur (Agamemnon father) fed his brother Theses his own children for his crime of adultery.

Clytemnestra is no doubt attributing Agamemnon with the more horrific characteristics of his father. 0 She goes on to suggest that the woman who attend her lay out a crimson carpet to pave the way for his entry to the palace. This is an attempt to get Agamemnon to omit the crime of hubris, paralleling ones self with the gods by walking on red tapestries reserved only for them. Agamemnon is initially at unwilling to commit this act “Never cross my path with robes and draw the lightning” the red tapestries are comparable to the blood of Agamemnon. Agamemnon is compared to light and the sun keeping up the repetitive theme. Throughout this whole scene, (Agamemnon only scene at that) he is cold and apathetic towards Clytemnestra and presents Cassandra With little explanation to his wife. This sort of behavior (although not particularly terrible) is not to be expected especially as Agamemnon has not seen his Wife in over a decade and has never talked with her about the sacrifice of Phasing. This makes Clytemnestra somewhat more justified in her actions at this stage.

CLC Clytemnestra convinces Agamemnon to walk on the tapestries by suggesting that he is less of a man by not doing so and by saying that another king such as Prima would certainly walk the red carpet, further establishing her as a manipulative and clever woman. Agamemnon reveals Cassandra for the first time (her presence a public humiliation for Clytemnestra) and eventually gives in; although he pauses to contemplate his crime “trampling royal crimson as I go” he still goes ahead with it after Clytemnestra encouragement, He is defeated by a woman’s wiles and loses respect built up in previous events. It is worth noting that like Croon in the Made, Agamemnon realizes his mistake even as he commits O. Stationmasters compares Agamemnon to Zeus “And you are Zeds” and he does not deny this further enforcing his crime of hubris. 8). 3rd Choral Ode: to direct the audience, provide a time lapse and to praise the J The third choral ode begins with the chorus expressing their fears that omitting terrible is about to happen but they do not know What. There is another reference to the furies and justice. The Chorus’s somber mood reflects the impending doom that Will soon befall Agamemnon.

CIA The chorus provide the revelation that you fall farthest the higher up you are, bad things can happen when you are at your peak. “Even exultant health, well eve know, exceeds its limits, comes so near disease it can breach the wall veneer them. ” The fact that death cannot be undone is also alluded to. C Agamemnon is compared to cargo on a sinking ship (the house of Auteur). The ship can be saved if the cargo is heron overboard. Another metaphor; after harvest things re-grow but you must cut down old growth (Agamemnon) first.

CLC The chorus directs us to a sense of impending doom and the tact that once a man is dead he cannot come back. C Zeus is hailed as a powerful god. 9), Cassandra: RL Clytemnestra invites Cassandra to “share some victory libations with the house” which is a reference to her impending victory over Agamemnon; she is inviting Cassandra to share his fate. A She gives a further insight concerning wealth by saying that those who have newly attained riches are corrupted by it ND can become cruel masters. L Cassandra does not answer Clytemnestra or the leader of the chorus even he encourages her to go with Clytemnestra. Clytemnestra becomes angry and makes a reference to “victims waiting for the fire and the knife” meaning Agamemnon and now Cassandra. The leader of the chorus is sympathetic to Cassandra but Clytemnestra makes a reference to how horses (Cassandra) are hurt by their bridles effete do not submit to their masters and storms Of into the palace. [I Cassandra has a vision and cries to Apollo the god of prophecy. The old men of the Chorus are confused.

Cassandra senses the presence Of death and suffering in “the house that hates god” and makes a reference to Tetchiest feast. She then senses Clytemnestra plot to kill Agamemnon “a plot, a monstrous thing” The Chorus recognize the first omen (regarding Tetchiest) but they cannot understand her new prediction. Cassandra elaborates her speech emphasizing the horrific actions of Clytemnestra “the bedmate, the teammate, murder’s strong right arm! ” but the chorus cannot understand her because of the curse of Cassandra. O Her speech is broken and disjointed emphasizing her emotions she foresees her own death ext.

The chorus still cannot understand her so she elaborates by giving tether details of the Tetchiest incident and then explains the origins of her gift: e. G. Lover of Apollo, she deceived him so her gift is cursed with the tact that no one will believe her, [l Cassandra position is truly pitiable as she is more an innocent than any in the play; she is obviously tortured by her visions especially as they do no one any good, She expresses her opinion that it would be better to have been the nightingale a figure of inconsolable grief in Greek mythology. She has yet another disturbing vision of Tetchiest children symbolically holding out their entrails and then makes a reference to Strategist (who is the son of Tetchiest) and his wish to have revenge on Agamemnon the Son Of Auteur. But he is “a lion who lacks a lions heart” because he leaves the deed of revenge to a woman. Cassandra continues to reinforce the image Of Clytemnestra as a despicable murderer by comparing her to mythological beasts such as Scylla (a popular insult for terrible women in classical writing). The chorus still cannot understand.

At last she says bluntly “Agamemnon. You will see him dead” the Chorus are hocked and ask her which man plots this murder when she has already told them that it is a woman who will commit the act you are lost, to every word I’ve said” CLC Swept into one final vision she sees her own death in detail, we feel sorry for Cassandra as she is an innocent victim, there is some justice in Agamemnon death but Cassandra is killed an a jealous whim of Clytemnestra. She goes on to predict that Rooster will come to in turn avenge Agamemnon death, and unintentionally hers as well.

Olin the end the chorus believe her which confirms the truth that she will die as it is known that only her final prophecy will be lived. “l must be brave. It is my turn to die” C She detects the murder going on in the house and steels herself for her fate and enters the palace. Cassandra is even more admirable as she bravely enters the palace prepared and ready for her fate. She prays to the sun “the last light I will see” another significant reference to dawn and sunrise, her last day alive. The dark words of Cassandra are an ominous indication of what is to come, her ravings and the short emotional conversations between her and the chorus quicken the pace of the scene all of which is an effective build up to Agamemnon death. I C). Agamemnon death, the victory of Clytemnestra: CIA Cries come from Within the palace as Agamemnon is struck down by Clytemnestra. The chorus flounder about in confusion eventually approaching the door Which opens to reveal Clytemnestra standing over the bodies Of Agamemnon and Cassandra. “Here I stand and here struck, and here my work is done. Did it all I don’t deny it, no” Clytemnestra emerges boasting Of her “achievement” enormously. She continues to revel in her victory: “Rejoice if you can rejoice C I glory” she has no sense of shame and any respect or justification he audience felt for her actions is quickly lost. 0 The chorus are disgusted with her, as are the audience no doubt. Dish first mentions Agamemnon ruthless murder of Phasing, then moves on to say her murder was justified by her suspicions that Cassandra and Agamemnon had slept together.

She has murdered Agamemnon for jealousy and malice more than the just avenging of Phasing “she brings a trees voluptuous relish to my bed! ” D Clytemnestra describes the way she brooded over this act for so long and how she entwined her husband in his robes in order to murder him all the more easily, the joy with which she describes these things is disturbing and condemning. Certainly not the way for someone who has rightfully avenged their daughter to act. 0 The chorus give the insight that in a male dominated world it is women (Clytemnestra/ Helen) that are bringing society down.

They then move on to say that the world is controlled by the vim’s of the gods and our lives are full of pain. Clytemnestra claims to be the hand of the gods claiming vengeance in their name. She believes she has justifiably avenged her daughter and her conviction at least attests to this “By the sword you did your work and by the sword you The chorus speak Of Rooster the possible avenger Of his fathers death, the chorus are upset at the death of their king and mourn his murder “Oh my king, my captain, how to salute, how you to mourn you? Clytemnestra insists it was right to kill Agamemnon. 0 Chorus questions absolute justice because it breeds more wrong doing and murder “Justice brings new acts of agony” where will it end? Setting the scene for the rest of the trilogy. 0 Strategist arrives in the last moments of the play a coward who would not show himself until now after the action. He claims responsibility for plotting Agamemnon murder. Men should not allow women to carry out the action while hiding in the shadows. He seems another self-centered reason for Clytemnestra to do away with her husband.

While the story to his brothers fate at the hands to Auteur wins him sonnet sympathy from the audience the rest of his behavior condemns him. Z] The chorus show him no respect and so he threatens them “I’ll make you dance, I’ll bring you all to heel” it is a terrible thing to threaten old men and not pay them the respect that their age demands. The chorus and Strategist continue to argue until a fight breaks out, as the two sides (the chorus and Strategist’ men) prepare to charge. Clytemnestra steps in.


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