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Agamemnon by Aeschylus
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Jan 12, 2009

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Read in January, 2009

Aeschylus. AGAMEMNON. (458B.C.). ***. I remember having to read this play – along with the other two in the trilogy, “The Libation Bearers,” and “The Eumenides” – as a freshman at college. I thought at the time (and still think so) that the play needed some lightening up; maybe some chorus girls in tights bursting in at some point. Of course there is already the chorus, but they don’t seem like the dancing type. The play starts after the end of the Trojan War, and all the men – at least those not killed on the ocean voyage back – are headed home. This includes Agamemnon, who hedged his bets by sacrificing his daughter, Iphigeneia to Artemis, the god. This assured that he and his men would prevail over Troy and get to return home. He was gone for ten years. His wife, Clytaemestra, got bored and took as a lover Aegisthus, the only surviving son of Thyestes. So now you have two pissed-off people waiting Agamemnon’s return. If you remember your Greek myths, Thyestes placed a curse on all the house of Atreus after Atreus tricked him into devouring his own children. Aegisthus was his only surviving son. Clytaemestra and Aegisthus knew of the return of Agamemnon through the use of cleverly placed beacons from Troy back to Argos. When he lands, in company with Cassandra – who continues to spout predictions of doom – he is met and escorted into the palace walking on carpets thrown down by slaves. Outside, Cassandra is trying to tell the chorus that some mean things are about to happen inside, but the chorus has its doubts. Suddenly Clytaemestra runs out of the palace declaring that she has killed the king by stabbing him three times. Then Aegisthus comes out and declares that he, too, is avenged for the death of his siblings. There is lots of grumbling by the chorus, but they are finally urged to disperse and put away their swords because things are what they are. At the end, Porky Pig comes out and says (with a preliminary stutter), “That’s All Folks.” This is essential reading, but you’d better have a reference book at hand in order to understand all the events leading up to this story.
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David Sarkies I think the dancing girls would have lightened it up a lot as well. It's a shame that Greek women weren't allowed in the theatre, let alone on stage.


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