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Clytemnestra

October 19, 2013

This article is a particularly early piece from my blog’s archives and focuses on one sentence spoken by Clytemnestra. I have chosen to post this article tonight as I will be working on a new Clytemnestra article tomorrow which will expand upon these early thoughts (I have made some minor alterations).

Clytemnestra, the wronged wife of Agamemnon, freely admits her act of revenge to the chorus in the Agamemnon through this statement;

‘I stand where I dealt the blow; my purpose is achieved’ (Aeschylus Agamemnon 1379)

Agamemnon sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia to ensure a favourable wind in order to sail to Troy. Clytemnestra had been given the false impression that Agamemnon intended to marry Iphigenia to Achilies and never forgave her husband for the deception. Clytemnestra, therefore, believed her revenge was justified.

Clytemnestra has brought down a man, her husband the conqueror of Troy. Clytemnestra in doing so demonstrated cunning, skill and ingenuity in achieving the task and avenging her daughters murder. I consider that characters such as Clytemnestra may have been represented in such ways as to make the audience think about society. Women did not have an equal position to men in antiquity and as such Clytemnestra’s act of revenge may have been received by some as shocking. However, others may have thought differently; she is an intelligent woman and has managed the affairs of the kingdom successfully in her husbands absence. However, the character is also represented as being cold and masculine. This typically un-Greek ‘woman’ is unashamed in accepting responsibility for the murder and is proud of her achievement. I believe  that this statement reflects Aeschylus’ attempt  at presenting a strong female character to make (what may have been the all male audience) think about the role of women in society. I will return to the character portrayal of Clytemnestra in tomorrows post.

Bibliography

Aeschylus Aeschylus Volume 2 Agamemnon Translated by H.W. Smyth Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1926.

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From → Women in Myth

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