Notes on Agamemnon Themes

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Agamemnon Topic Tracking: Justice

Justice 1: The Chorus of Elders thinks that the sacrifice of Iphigenia was unjust, as was the loss of so many Greek lives during these past ten years of fighting in the Trojan War. These men think that it is silly for so much loss to occur for the sake of this one woman, Helen.

Justice 2: Even though the Chorus thinks that the Greeks are justified in attacking Troy because of what Paris has done, these men also state that the Greeks must be moderate in the amount of damage they cause to the city. If they become too excessive, then that is unjust and those responsible for wreaking such havoc will be punished accordingly.

Justice 3: Once again, these old men warn about the dangers of becoming excessive and prideful. Arrogance is a crime that shall be punished heavily; Paris was guilty of this arrogance because he violated Menelaus' trust and kidnapped his wife, Helen. Paris suffered terribly for this by his own death and then the destruction of his entire city and the murder of his family.

Justice 4: Agamemnon declares that he shall exact justice upon the citizens of Argos accordingly now that he has returned. Those who have been loyal to him and have not caused any problems shall be rewarded, and those citizens who have been troublemakers shall simply be put to death. Justice for Agamemnon is very simple: reward those who follow the law and remove those who do not.

Justice 5: Cassandra does not think that it is justice that she is going to soon be murdered by Clytaemnestra for no reason other than Agamemnon has made her into his love slave, and Clytaemnestra is very jealous of her. The prophetess names off a long list of sufferings, declaring that the destruction of Troy and the death of her family was not justified, and the Greeks were wrong for what they did.

Justice 6: The prophetess Cassandra accepts responsibility for the curse that Apollo put on her after she rejected his love. She and Apollo had an agreement, that if he gave her the gift of prophesy then she would be his lover; however, she did not hold up her side of the bargain and Apollo punished her. This was just, because she was arrogant and dared to defy a god.

Justice 7: As Cassandra enters the royal palace at Argos and prepares to die, she prays that justice will be done one day when Agamemnon's son Orestes shall return and kill Clytaemnestra for what she is about to do. Justice for Cassandra is "An eye for an eye," since the murderer must be punished with her own murder later on.

Justice 8: Clytaemnestra feels that she is completely justified in killing her husband Agamemnon I order to avenge the death of her eldest daughter Iphigenia. Although a woman should respect her husband, Clytaemnestra's love for her daughter overpowers her, erasing any feelings she might have felt for her husband. She feels no remorse for what she is done and is actually quite pleased with herself.

Justice 9: The angry wife adds that Zeus himself was using her as a divine tool to exact justice upon Agamemnon because of his father's actions. Atreus had cooked Thyestes' children in the oven and then fed them to him. Clytaemnestra declares that Agamemnon was punished for his father's sins, and that she in fact had a very small part in the murder, for it was Zeus' doing.

Justice 10: Clytaemnestra thinks that she has brought justice to Argos at long last, ending a curse of bloodshed that has continued for several generations. She declares to the Chorus, 'I swept from these halls/the murder," thinking that the murders of Agamemnon and Cassandra will erase the bloodshed that occurred in previous generations. Like Cassandra, her idea of justice is "An eye for an eye," as more murder can cleanse the sin of earlier murders.

Justice 11: Aegisthus supports Clytaemnestra's version of justice, that the death of Agamemnon will somehow fix the mistakes that Atreus made in cooking Thyestes' children in the stove and then feeding them to him.

Justice 12: The Chorus of Elders does not believe that Zeus has used Clytaemnestra as a divine tool to exact justice against Agamemnon for killing Iphigenia or to punish him for Atreus' sins. Instead, they believe firmly that she is very wrong, and they pray for the day that Agamemnon's son Orestes will return to Argos and avenge his father's death, thus continuing the cycle of bloodshed even further. Now the son will kill the mother which will be justice according to these old men.

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