Agamemnon A Tragedy By Aeschylus Essay

2061 words - 8 pages

Aeschylus’ well-known tragedy of Agamemnon allows one to closely look at the treasured polytheistic religious ideas of Ancient Greece and how the Grecians relied heavily on the thought of free will versus fate determined by their gods. With the play being set and written in Greece, the polytheistic lifestyle is apparent and unabashed as the culture of the time would have seen the play to be easily believable; the entire audience would have been familiar with the various gods and goddesses as well as being familiar with the situation that begins the play: the Trojan War. Aeschylus was also able to reveal the Grecian mindset of morality, revenge, and justice through the characters’ actions and dialogue; the idea of jealousy and revenge is particularly notable was it was common for one generation of a family to take revenge for a wrong done to them in a previous generation (Constantakis), such as Aegisthus as he seeks revenge for his father through the act of murdering Agamemnon.
The Trojan War is now seen by some as a war that never truly took place, but those sitting and watching the play unfold would have seen the chaos and imagery of the battles told by Aeschylus as brutally truthful and real. The bloody war was fought over Helen who was taken by Paris to his homeland of Troy to be his bride; however, she was already married to Menelaus, Agamemnon’s brother. The war ends as Troy falls and that is where Agamemnon begins as news breaks of the victory and all seems to be well as there is now peace. The triumph only allows for devotion to the gods to be shown as Clytemnestra, Agamemnon’s wife and future murderer, immediately kindles alters for worship and proclaims that the gods themselves have sent the sign of good news starting from “Hephaestus, lord of fire,/Sent forth his sign; and on, and ever on,/Beacon to beacon sped the courier-flame.” (Aeschylus 12) ; given the context and the idea that the gods lit the flame that signaled the win, the notion that it was fate that won the Greeks the war was likely not far from anyone’s mind. The central idea of fate that was so enticing to the Greeks was the mere fact that they as a society were only beginning to develop a concrete sense of personal morality in 458 B.C. Athens (Shipley) when Agamemnon was first performed. A Greek could justify anything if it fell in the constraints of the “gods’ will” for them; however, the idea of fate did not stop the individual from condemning his fellow man as countless people condemned Helen for running off with Paris, which some claim she only did because she was greatly affected by Aphrodite. The argument of free will versus a fate is one that is brought up when discussing Helen as, “the main question is the extent to which Helen accepted the fate assigned to her… It was not long before people wondered if she had followed Paris voluntarily…” (Brunel 521). Both scenarios open Helen up to hatred particularly from a moral standpoint as she can easily be imagined...

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