Agamemnon (all story notes)
Agamemnon (all story notes) Classics 320
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hannah James on Tuesday October 6, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to Classics 320 at University of Wisconsin - Madison taught by Laura McClure in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 66 views. For similar materials see The Greeks in Classical Studies at University of Wisconsin - Madison.
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Date Created: 10/06/15
Agamemnon Summary A Watchman atop the roof of the palace in Argos complains that he has spent so much time in this perch that he knows the night sky by heart 0 He is waiting for a beacon that will signal the fall of Troy which has been besieged for ten years by a Greek army led by Agamemnon the king of Argos Agamemnon39s wife Clytemnestra governs Argos in her husband39s absence The beacon ares the Watchman out at the news and rushes inside to tell the Queen The Chorus Argos39 oldest and wisest male citizens discusses the history of the Trojan War Clytemnestra joins them and the Chorus demands to know why she has ordered sacrifices to all the gods and celebrations throughout the city 0 Before she answers they tell the story of how the Greeks were trapped by unfavorable winds and how Agamemnon learned that the winds were sent by Artemis goddess of the hunt I In order to appease her and sail to Troy Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia the Chorus describes her cries for mercy as her father39s men cut her throat Clytemnestra then tells them that Troy has fallen to the Greeks 0 She pictures the slaughter inside the walls of Troy and hopes that the Greeks will commit no offenses against the gods that would hinder a safe journey home The Chorus gives thanks to Zeus for the victory and says that Troy deserved destruction as punishment for the crime of Paris Meanwhile all is not well at home the losses suffered have made the citizens of Argos grumble and the Chorus worries that the heroes of the battles outside Troy may be made to pay for their triumph The Chorus debates whether to believe the news that the beacons have transmitted 0 One of the Chorus members sees a Herald arriving from the beach and they agree that this man39s news will reveal what has truly transpired in Troy The Herald expresses his relief at returning to Argos after ten years abroad saying that he never dared to hope that he would see his home again 0 He greets the Chorus and announces that Agamemnon is returning in triumph The Chorus tells him to rejoice and adds that the city has grown fearful in the absence of its warriors O The Herald insists that however much they have suffered the warriors suffered more 0 He goes on to describe the trials they endured during the siege of Troy Clytemnestra arrives and says that she heard the news and made sacrifices in spite of old men39s doubts 0 Now she orders the Herald to return to Agamemnon and to tell him to return quickly because she who has been faithful all these years yearns for his strong presence in their house The Herald notes that her speech sounds noble and fitting for the wife of the King 0 Before he leaves the Chorus asks about the fate of Menelaus Agamemnon39s brother and the Herald becomes displeased I He proceeds to tell them how the Greek eet endured a powerful storm that battered their eet and sank many ships 0 Somehow Agamemnon39s ship escaped harm but when the storm had passed Menelaus had disappeared his fate remains unknown After delivering the unhappy news about Menelaus the Herald departs Agamemnon arrives riding in a chariot with Cassandra beside him 0 The Chorus hails him and confesses to having doubted him in the war on Troy Agamemnon gives thanks to the gods for their part in his victory at Troy and tells the Chorus that he hears their words that the most loyal man serves obediently even if he disagrees with the ruler Clytemnestra greets the King declaring her passionate love for him and describing the sufferings of a wife who waits at home while her husband wages war 0 Fearing revolution at home she sent their son Orestes away to stay with friends in another city I Now her solitude are over and she can rejoice in his homecoming 0 She asked her maidens to prepare a purple carpet for Agamemnon so that his don t touch the earth as he enters the palace Agamemnon rebukes his wife for laying the carpet before him saying that were he to walk on it he would incur the wrath of the gods 0 She accuses him of fear and says that had Priam would have walked on purple O Agamemnon finally consents and enters his palace on the carpet demanding proper care and attention for Cassandra the Trojan princess he has taken as his slave and concubine The Chorus senses foreboding despite Agamemnon39s arrival and the restoration of order Clytemnestra re emerges and orders Cassandra to participate in the sacrifices of thanksgiving telling her that she should not be too unhappy with her fate since she will have kind masters O Cassandra offers no reply and the Chorus echoes the Queen39s orders When the Trojan princess remains silent the Chorus suggests that perhaps she does not speak the language but Clytemnestra says that she will waste no more time with the girl 0 She retires within leaving Cassandra alone with the Chorus Cassandra speaks for the first time crying out to Apollo 0 She asks him why he torments her and to what city he has brought her I The Chorus tells her she is in the house of Agamemnon39s family 0 She recalls crimes committed here then prophecies about future acts of violence 0 The Chorus does not comprehend her message but she continues to declare that destruction will fall upon this place 0 The Chorus induces her to tell her story 0 Apollo fell in love with her and granted her the gift of prophecy she promised to bear him a child I When she broke her word he punished her by making it so that nobody would heed her warnings 0 After eXplaining this she prophecies that she and Agamemnon will die at the hands of a woman 0 Eventually a son will emerge to kill the murderess and avenge his father39s death 0 After delivering this prophecy Cassandra declares that she is resigned to die 0 Everyone else in her native city has perished and it is time for her to join them I The Chorus praises her bravery even as they fail to understand her prophecy I Once Cassandra goes the Chorus fears for the King39s safety 0 Suddenly Agamemnon 39s voice is heard from inside crying out in agony that he is mortally wounded I Another cry comes followed by silence I The doors y open revealing Clytemnestra standing triumphantly over the bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra 0 Without a hint of shame the Queen describes how she killed Agamemnon with an aX after using heavy robes to trap him in his bath 0 She tells the Chorus that he was evil and deserved to die I They declare that she will be eXiled and shunned by all men for her crime I She rebuffs their reproach by pointing out their hypocrisy none of them protested when Agamemnon killed her innocent daughter Iphigenia 0 The murder of her husband is justified she insists 0 Agamemnon can lie dead alongside Cassandra who shared his bed 0 The Chorus laments the murder blaming Agamemnon39s death on Helen of Troy 0 They wonder who will mourn for Agamemnon since his wife supposedly his closest relation has killed him I Clytemnestra tells them that Iphigenia his child will greet him next I Aegisthus Clytemnestra39s lover appears for the first time and is accompanied by his bodyguards 0 He is Agamemnon39s cousin and as he rejoices over the murder we learn the history of the ancestral curse that has led to the King39s death I Aegisthus39 father Thyestes tried unsuccessfully to seize the crown from Agamemnon39s father Atreus and was eXiled from Argos O Eventually Thyestes returned to the city and begged for mercy O Atreus pretended to welcome him and then boiled two of Thyestes39 sons and served them to his brother who ate his own children unwittingly I Since that horrible day Thyestes now dead and his son have been eXiles 0 Only now has the terrible crime against Aegisthus39 family been avenged The Chorus taunts Aegisthus saying that he allowed a woman to do the deed for him and tells him that he will be executed for the crime 0 Aegisthus replies that because of his eXile he could not get close enough to Agamemnon to kill him I He claims that his henchmen and the treasury will enable him to control the city I He promises to have the Chorus killed As they trade threats Clytemnestra acts as a peacemaker telling the Chorus that she and Aegisthus could not have acted any other way and that peace will reign in Argos under her rule 0 The defeated Chorus accepts their authority but declares that when Orestes returns he will exact vengeance for his father39s murder 0 Aegisthus and Clytemnestra dismiss these words as empty threats and together they take up the reins of the state
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