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Lecture 17

Classical Studies 2200 Lecture Notes - Lecture 17: Clytemnestra, Iphigenia, Odysseus

Classical Studies
Course Code
CS 2200
Aara Suksi

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Aeschylus’ Agamemnon
Sacrifice of Iphigeneia
Greeks are gathered at Aulis under Agamemnon’s command
Artemis is angry at Agamemnon
o She is demanding that he sacrifice his daughter
He refers to his daughter as a palace jewel
She is something that belongs in the household
o Does not want to spill her blood but he does not have a
choice as he cannot disobey the orders of a goddess
If he does sacrifice his daughter he will still anger
the gods as humans are not sacrificed to the gods
o No wind to allow fleet to sail to Troy
Eagles and the hare
o The pregnant hare that is going to be torn apart
by the eagles
Priest of Apollo
o Chalchas
Decision to sacrifice Iphigeneia
o Modern day people believe that she may have
been switched with a deer by Artemis right
before she was sacrificed
This is not in the original play
Agamemnon’s trick
o Euripidean
Not mentioned in the Oresteia
o Clytemnestra is told that her daughter will be
married to Akhilleus
In reality she was going to be sacrifice
She was going to be a bride of death
Agamemnon’s Decision
He chooses to engage in violence against his household in order to fulfil his public duties
o He offends Clytemnestra as mother and protector of the household’s wealth
Agamemnons Nostos
Contrast Agamemnons return with that of Odysseus
o Differences between the wives
Clytemnestra is trying to present herself like Penelope did but in reality
only one of them remained faithful to their husband
o For the characters on the stage Odysseus has not returned home yet but the
audience would know the story
o Odysseus returned home carefully while Agamemnon returns home with
Cassandra on a chariot with all the spoils from war
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Wants to bring Cassandra into the inner most parts of the house
He sacrificed his daughter before the war and now he is bringing
back someone who would be the same age as his daughter to
replace his wife in bed
Makes a big speech about all the things that he accomplished
o When Clytemnestra goes to greet her husband she makes a public speech
instead of a private speech
Describes herself as a faithful wife
Suggests that she is making a case for herself as she is speaking
to the citizens instead of just her husband
o Says that their son is not there
Clytemnestra’s beacon fires (606)
o She had people light beacon fires when Troy falls
Went across a series of mountain tops from Troy to Argos
She herself is composing a narrative of the fall of Troy
o She is taking on the role of the epic poet
At the same time the Greeks were committing various crimes in the fallen
Justice is said to have finally come to Troy
o Helen as a destructive lion
Comes like a cub into the city and then leads to its downfall
Many of the young soldiers that went to bring Helen back did not make it
Orestes not at home (616)
o Was sent off by his mother to live with their friends because she thought that
people there would resent the things that happened as Troy and try to kill him
Instead she sent him away so they he would not see all of the things that
she did when Agamemnon was away
Clytemnestras purple cloth (616-618)
o Tells the servants to spread a road of purple so that he could enter the house
The most expensive textiles from inside the house
He said that it would not be masculine to walk on purple
o They are used for sacred use
He understands that they are gifts to the gods and
he should not trample on them
He does walk on it
Commits an act of hubris
o Says that he hopes no god will be angry
Takes his shoes off and never actually walks on the ground
o She will not allow him to walk on his homeland again
o She is asking him to repeat the sacrifice in a symbolic way
Sacrilege to walk on the cloth just like it was to kill his daughter
Cassandra (619-626)
o Tells Clytemnestra to welcome Cassandra
Invites her to the sacrifice which are the murders that are going to happen
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