CLA204H1 Study Guide - Neoptolemus, Thyestes, Aegisthus
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March 6th, 2012
Lecture 8: The fall of Troy and its Aftermath
The Fall of Troy
Achilles is killed by Paris (with the help of Apollo, Paris will also be killed)
Neoptolemos (Pyrrhus), the son of Achilles and Deidamia, is summoned from Skyros (one of
three conditions for the sack of Troy)
Odysseus and Neoptolemos (or Diomedes) sail to Lemnos to fetch Philoktetes and his bow
Philoktetes kills Paris (his brother Deiphobos marries Helen)
Odysseus steals the Palladion (third condition)
Greeks secretly enter the city with the help of the “Trojan Horse”
Troy is captured, many of the men are killed, the women are enslaved
Hector’s son Astyanax is thrown from the city walls
Menelaos kills Deiphobos, but spares Helen when she exposes her breast in supplication
Aeneas escapes from Troy carrying his father on his shoulders (cf. Aeneid)
The Iliad ends with the burial of Hektor; Troy is still not defeated, Achilles is still alive and the
city still has to be captured [the Iliad only covers a brief period of the war]. In the Odyssey is
where they make the reference to the Trojan War. Paris kills Achilles.
There are 3 conditions that have to be fulfilled before the Greeks conquer the city:
o After Achilles’ death Neoptolemos, his son from Deidamia is called from Skyros
[Deidamia was the princess that Achilles had an affair with] come joins the war
o Have to get Philoktetes and his bow. Not part of the war because he was bitten by a
snake, and the poison had such a bitter smell that they just left him there. He is fetched
by Diomedes and Odysseus will kill Paris with his bow once Paris is dead, Helen is to
marry Deiphobos (Paris’ brother)
o The Palladion is the cult image of Pallas Athena, and as long as it’s in Troy, they can't
defeat the city of Troy. Odysseus steals that from Troy.
o Learned these conditions from Hellenus.
Odysseus came up with the idea of the wooden horse and they pretend to give up. Horse full of
soldiers, is taken in and at night the gate is opened and they take over the city.
Astyanax (potential threat), Hektor’s son, is thrown from the walls of Troy.
Aeneas escapes from Troy, where he carries his father Anchises out of the burning city of Troy a
significance that is given to Aeneas is relevant for the Romans more than for the Greeks.
Meneloas kills Deiphobos, and is about to kill Helen but she exposes her breasts and cries for
forgiveness and he agrees to forgive her.
Laokoon and his sons:
Laokoon (priest) is very suspicious of the horses. He tells the Trojans not to be stupid. So he
takes his spear and tries to cut a hole in it the horse. But since the gods wanted the Greeks to
win, they send huge snakes to kill Laokoon and his son and they succeed.
The expression on Laokoon’s face: suffering combined with the tranquility of the soul a lot of
emotion but not panic. In antiquity, something relaxed and surreal *Winklemen’s
interpretation]. “edle einfalt und stille grobe”, noble simplicity and silent magnitude.
Monkman: Laokoon is being strangled and people are busy painting his face a tradition that
combines that symbol of traditional culture, called The Academy.
What happens to the Greek heroes?
Greater Ajax (cousin of Achilles): struggles with Odysseus. To whom the armour of Achilles’ goes
to. Odysseus is good at talking and Greater Ajax is just a good fighter. Odysseus gets the armour.
Greater Ajax gets made and decides to kill the Greeks, but ends up killing sheep (whom he
believe are Greek) and is ashamed when madness leaves him. And then he kills himself.
Lesser Ajax rapes Cassandra (taken in by Agamemnon) in Athena’s temple, and she sends down
a storm but he doesn’t die. Then Lesser Ajax is showing off and is killed by Poseidon on the
Meneloas caught in a storm and ended up in Egypt. There he meets a mystic and eventually gets
to Sparta and lives with Helen happily ever after. Nostos - home coming of Greek gods.
Odysseus: wanders for about 10 years; stranded on Klypso and made love to a beautiful goddess
but then left and eventually returns to Ithaca and kills his wife’s suitors and lives happily ever
o Poseidon very angry, Odysseus blinds his son, Polyphemus. That’s why Odysseus takes
so long to get him.
Agamemnon: killed by his wife who takes on a lover.
Agamemnon and Odysseus have mirrored stories. (structures are opposites)
Aegisthus (Clytemnestra’s lover) was killed by Orestes (Agamemnon’s son)
o Odysseus and Agamemnon’s fates are opposed by the mirror images. This story is
invoked several times
o Agamemnon comes to Odysseus and tells him what happened with him. Warns him to
come undercover and check out the whole situation before exposing himself
3 tragedies followed by 1 satyr play
Orestei was performed with Proteas; reasonable to assume it’s about Meneloas and Proteas
(the sea deity on Egypt)
Sicily was Greek speaking at the time. All together we have 7 plays. How did Aeschylus die? A big
eagle was flying around with a turtle that was thrown on a rock, but in this case, the bird though
the bald head of Aeschylus was a rock. He was wrong.
Atreus kills the children of Thyestes [his brother] and feeds them to Thyestes. At that time
Thyestes puts a curse on the house of Atreus.
o Cassandra has the gift of prophecy; she was Apollo’s lover, but she didn’t yield to him.
So he cursed her. She can see the past and the future. But nobody will believe her even
if she is saying the truth.
o Thyestes rapes his own daughter and has Aegisthus as his son, who is also
Clytemnestra’s lover. This is Aegisthus vendetta against Atreus for killing his brothers.
o Agamemnon and Clytemnestra (Aegisthus is her lover) had 3 children. Elektra, Orestes
(second play in the trilogy) and Iphigenia
When the Greeks were setting out to Trojan, they were gathered in Aulis.
Artemis was mad at them and would not let them set sail.
In order to start moving and set out against Troy, Agamemnon has to sacrifice
his own daughter (Iphigenia). Agamemnon agrees and sacrifices her, and whilst
dying she curses the house of Atreus. Murder of kindred is a motif, in this myth.
Artemis supposedly saves her in other myths and substitutes her with a hind.
(look at picture on slide). Iphigenia becomes a priest and kills strangers as they
come. She yearns to go back home from Tauris.
(first play) Agamemnon:
The play starts with a curios scene; foreshadowing of later telegraphic
techniques; Clytemnestra has set up a system of transporting the
message of the fall of Troy to Argos. Clytemnestra has set up the beacon
of light signal. They are triumphant and happy.
Then we encounter a chorus [of Argive elders] and they lament the
Trojan War; so many people killed for 1 woman. (Agamemnon 60-68)
Clytemnestra enters the scene and has heard the outcome of the war.
The chorus is doubtful because they don’t have any proof and the
light/fire signal isn’t good enough. This news is brought upon by the
Herald who tells them of the fall of the Trojan War.
o Typical device of tragedy is to use messengers as catalyst
o Clytemnestra acts hypocritical. Then Agamemnon enters on a
chariot together with Cassandra. Now follows the carpet scene.
(look at slide for the lines) He meets his wife and she acts super
happy. And she says as you enter the house, please step on the
purple carpet. Agamemnon doesn’t want to do that because
that’s something that befits a god; not something a mortal man
should do, he doesn’t want to be so full of pride. Clytemnestra
convinces him. The verbal battle fought between Agamemnon
and Clytemnestra is foreshadowing Agamemnon’s death and
her victory. Purple is associated with the color of blood and it
being a tapestry [web] as he is entering the web woven by her.
o Also in this quotation symbolizes the gender reversal seen here.
Clytemnestra is like a man, she is ruling Argos in his absence.
Agamemnon says he doesn’t want to walk on the carpet but he
is still made to and convinced by his wife
o Barbaric = something feminine and woman like, also described
as “something Priam would do”
Convention of theatre, people are killed backstage
Clytemnestra and Cassandra have a verbal fight and
Clytemnestra leaves. Cassandra predicts and foresees
everything happening. Cassandra hears Agamemnon
screaming backstage and Cassandra follows.
Clytemnestra uses a double axe to slaughter
Agamemnon and Cassandra.
In the play, the doors/gates open and we see
Clytemnestra standing over the bodies Cassandra and
Clytemnestra reflects on her deeds, and doesn’t regret
it; says it was bound to happen because of everything
else happening. It’s just the curse playing. The murder
of Agamemnon is punishment for what his father did to
Clytemnestra and Aegisthis rule Argos.
Another version is that Agamemnon was killed in his
(second Play) The Choephori [Libation bearers]