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Why Does Agamemnon Die? An Analysis Of Aeschylus's 'agamemnon' From The Orestia Trilogy Which Examines The Multiple Causes Of His Death. Based On A Reading Of The Play In Translation.

1337 words - 5 pages

Aeschylus' Oresteia: AgamemnonWhy did Agamemnon die?Aeschylus' tragedy, the Agamemnon, is the opening play in the only surviving Greek trilogy: the Oresteia. The Agamemnon has a multifaceted plot, charting the reasons for the hero's legendary unexpected death on his victorious return from Troy. Aeschylus manipulates the original myth in order to accentuate the dangers of giving power to a woman, hence Clytemnestra's murder of Agamemnon as opposed to her lover, Aegisthus, who is given a far more effeminate role than the original legend suggested. However, this new stance on the story does not suggest that the only causes of Agamemnon's death were Clytemnestra's desire for power, and the need to dispose of her husband in favour of her new lover. Instead, Aeschylus gradually and ingeniously reveals to his audience both the numerous reasons for Agamemnon's murder, whilst showing that his death was perhaps foreseeable.The short-term causes for Agamemnon's death are conceivably obvious ones. His vulnerability after his success at Troy left him oblivious to any danger on the home front: he did not seem to anticipate any difficulty in returning after his city after ten years. Both Orestes and Menelaus who may have been able to hinder the murder are absent. Clytemnestra was therefore given the perfect opportunity to slaughter her unsuspecting husband as soon as he entered the house, and the chorus, at first unable to understand the situation because Cassandra's prophesy cannot be believed because of Apollo's curse, were then later too frightened to intervene.After the murder, Clytemnestra appears to clarify her motives, which the audience have previously had to speculate upon. She explains that she killed because Agamemnon 'sacrificed his own child', and, having been bereaved for years, he had to be sacrificed to oppose her daughter's death: 'I sacrificed this man.' Agamemnon also returned home with Cassandra, evidence of his unfaithfulness, which added insult to injury. Furthermore, Clytemnestra, (seemingly unaware of her hypocrisy) no longer wants her husband, because 'Aegisthus lights the fire on [her] hearth.' However, despite this apparently thorough expression of Agamemnon's offences, there are clearly many more reasons for his death.Perhaps the main reason for his murder by Clytemnestra is that, quite simply, he betrayed her. The initial offence was his sacrifice of Iphigeneia: he put the blood loss of angry warriors before his fatherly love. Clytemnestra, the bereaved mother could not be consoled by a victory, and she wanted his life for hers. Her daughter was sacrificed for a war over Helen, an unvirtuous woman. The pure died for the promiscuous, and up until Agamemnon's death, that had never been appeased. Not only had Agamemnon been an unfaithful father, but on his return home this is combined with the fact that he had also been an unfaithful husband. Cassandra is brought back as spoils from Troy, and without hesitation or guilt Agamemnon...

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