The “House of Atreus”: The Everlasting Cycle of Death
In the “House of Atreus”, there is a cycle of death that is eventually broken. The ill-fated house contains a progressive series of sins that is set in action by the primary character Tantalus. The central message of the story is that human actions driven by human passions lead to an everlasting cycle of destruction, evil, and death; only with human reason and a sense of responsibility that comes from guilt can that cycle be broken.
The theme of relentless eternal sin is further shown by the conflict between arrogance and humility. Tantalus and his daughter Niobe defy the Gods and think of themselves as superior to all. They both are evil, and they represent the Greek driven acts by the animalistic concept of passions. They sin for the sole purpose of their egos, and the things the two of them do are illogical to the human perspective. Even when the Gods are generous towards Tantalus, he still acts in a horrific manner, “that no poet ever tried to explain his conduct” (Hamilton 346). Niobe’s arrogance displays her views of society especially when she thinks, “and what is she as compared with me?” (Hamilton 349). Niobe’s words and actions reflect her arrogance. She says again, “make your sacrifices to me” (Hamilton 349). The arrogance of Niobe and Tantalus are heard in heaven, and the Gods will always punish those who think they are not flawed. Both Tantalus and Niobe lack the humility that is favored by the Gods, which Orestes later demonstrates. Tantalus and Niobe are two of the issues, and creators of the circle of evil, and they are the reason for Greek passions, and what not to be.
The story of Clytemnestra embodies the concept of sins leading to more sins. This concept is known by the elders in Agamemnon’s palace who learn that, “Every sin causes a fresh sin, and every wrong brings another in its train” (Hamilton 353). This idea is proven to be true when Clytemnestra kills Agamemnon and later when Clytemnestra is then killed. It says that, “Clytemnestra has committed a crime which, unpunished would shatter the fabric of society” (Kitto The Greeks 76-77). This mentality is tragic because killing is brutal and malicious. Clytemnestra seems to be driven by arrogance and passions. She is seeking vengeance for her daughter’s death, which is reasonable; however, she goes about the situation in an unconventional manner. Clytemnestra is making a malicious cycle of death continue. She has no remorse. Clytemnestra’s killing of her husband brings joy to her eyes. She gloats when she says, “Here lies my husband, struck down by just my hand” (Hamilton 355). Both her words and her actions cause pain to many others. Clytemnestra has a sense of superiority over everyone when she says, “we are lords now” (Hamilton 356). Clytemnestra cannot seem to fully grasp the concept of life and death, and without that concept she is destroying her Greek...