Agamemnon Essay, Research Paper
Agamemnon is the first book in the Orestiean Trilogy written by the famous Greek tragedy writer, Aeschylus. Agamemnon is a story of justice and revenge. The story takes place in a city called Argos. It starts with Agamemnon, the king of Argos, away at the Trojan War. The city is eagerly awaiting the news of their king?s welfare and the outcome of the war. Watchmen are posted in the city, watching for the beacon that would report the capture of Troy and Agamemnon?s return. Beacons are set up from Troy to Argos; when one beacon is lit, the next one will be lit, until the last. The play starts when a palace watchman discovers the beacon and tells Agamemnon?s wife, Clytemnestra, the good news.
The chorus enters relating the story of Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus. When Menelaus? wife, Helen, ran away to Troy with Paris, the prince of Troy, Menelaus gathered an army, led by Agamemnon, to attack Troy and retrieve Helen. Most important about the chorus?s speech is their mention of Agamemnon sacrificing his daughter, Iphigenia, in order to be able to wage war on Troy. They tell how she was sacrificed despite her cries, all for a wind that would take them to war. Clytemnestra then tells the chorus about the defeat of Troy and Agamemnon returning from his ten years away at war.
After a few hours Agamemnon finally returns to his city. Along with him he brings Cassandra, a princess of Troy and captive to Agamemnon. She is known to be a prophetess who tells of tragedies. Agamemnon gives Cassandra to Clytemnestra as a slave. When Clytemnestra tries to bring Cassandra down from the carriage she is on and into the palace, Cassandra only sits there with a vacant look on her face. Clytemnestra goes into the palace threatening Cassandra and leaves her alone with the chorus.
Alone with the chorus, Cassandra starts going into trances. She seems to break down, asking why Apollo has brought her to Argos just to destroy her again. She then talks about a woman entrapping a man. She says, "The treacherous water?s poured, the lustral bath is full; she holds him in a trap made like a gown- she strikes! He crashes down! Listen! It is treachery, treachery, I say!"
Cassandra walks fearfully into the palace, then the chorus hears Agamemnon?s cry for help. After some deliberation of what to do, they go into the palace only to see Clytemnestra over the dead bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra. Clytemnestra tells that the reason for this seemingly wrong act was to do justice for Agamemnon sacrificing their daughter. Clytemnestra?s lover and partner in crime, Aegisthus, enters the palace with an armed bodyguard and justifies his part in the crime. He tells of Atreus?, Agamemnon?s father, sinful act against Thyestes, Aegisthus? father.
The chorus finds Aegisthus guilty of the treasonous act of killing the king and just hopes for Agamemnon?s son, Orestes to return and end this injustice.
Agamemnon has a good story line; it is a story about the meaning of justice and the carrying out of revenge. However, the way the story was written, with many long discourses by the chorus, made reading the story very tiresome. Since Agamemnon was only the first part, and introduction, of the Oresteian Trilogy, its role in the trilogy was achieved and done as best as it could. The chorus was only in the story to give background that lead up to these events.
This tragedy leaves you with a question, is it right to take justice into your own hands? This is what Clytemnestra did by killing Agamemnon. However, her case was different than most because she was dealing with the sin of a king. The king will not be punished by his own city because his people fear him. Agamemnon shows how people have choices. Agamemnon had a choice whether or not to sacrifice his daughter, and he made the wrong choice. Then Clytemnestra had the choice of killing her husband, Agamemnon, and taking justice into her own hands to do what she feels is right, or letting a man continue living. She made her choice, which was to kill Agamemnon, now the question is, did she make the right choice?