The Theme of Revenge and Justice in Agamemnon by Aeschylus
Agamemnon is the first play in the trilogy Oresteia by Aeschylus and the story begins after Troy’s fall and the defeat of Queen Clytemnestra. The queen does not plan to welcome the king Agamemnon in a traditional manner, since the memories of her murdered daughter are still fresh in her mind. Clytemnestra is delighted that the Greek have won the war and are returning home, as she will have an opportunity to revenge to Agamemnon. She lures the king to enter the palace when he comes home and kills him. This paper will analyze whether the Clytemnestra’s action was an attack or a defense as well as the possible outcomes that could represent justice.
The theme of revenge in Agamemnon is prevailing. This is especially evident where Clytemnestra wishes to retaliate for her little girl by killing her spouse. Therefore, Clytemnestra is shielding and looking for an answer for the slaughter of her little girl, who has been murdered by Agamemnon for the sake of the war (Goward 174). Agamemnon have been constrained by the need to sacrifice his girl at Aulis when Clytemnestra and Aegisthus debilitated hunger and detainment against Chorus in the face of their power.
Clytemnestra appears to defend her children, especially Iphigenia; however, she banishes Orestes as she is afraid that he would revenge to her because of the death of his father and also for her desire to retain power. She engrosses with this considered requital for more than ten years. In the long run, she yields the weal and peace of the state by murdering Agamemnon in the occasion of fulfilling her desire. When she utters that “from the womb of the Night / springs forth, with a promise fair, the young child Light” (318-319), it is a form of irony, since she is joyous at the expectation of murdering Agamemnon. Therefore, her satisfaction for revenge against Agamemnon would be met as she would be defending her daughter’s death (Goward 30). However, her act would never be as fulfilling as she expects, since revenge has never achieved the desired results of compensation or justice for the precedent pain. Clytemnestra believes that her action would lead to the end of the cycle of revenge; however, it is only an external force that is impartial to the parties that would be involved, so the feud ends effectively. She also believes that if the involved parties agree to give up their rights to vengeance and embrace the judgment of the impartial judge, the cycle of revenge would finally end.
The possible outcomes that could represent justice are the time’s ability to calm and heal the pain. If Clytemnestra had a cool off period to avoid ridiculous activities, she would finish the undesirable reprisal cycle. If Clytemnestra did not banish Orestes, he would have been hostile to him, since he was the rightful inheritor of Agamemnon. In this case, her actions would represent justice. Another possible outcome for Clytemnestra’s justice could be to dismiss Orestes, exercise power as Aegisthus queen as well as to secure power immediately, so that Agamemnon’s friends would not retaliate.
In conclusion, Clytemnestra’s actions were meant to be the revenge for her daughter’s death, who was sacrificed by her husband for the sake of war. The possible outcome that represented justice for her, was killing of Agamemnon to pay for her daughter’s murder.
Goward, Barbara. Aeschylus: Agamemnon. London: Duckworth, 2005. Print.
Aeschylus. Agamemnon. (should be referenced from customer’s textbook)