Does your reading of Aeschylus’s Agamemnon make you feel that Agamemnon deserved his fate?

In order to answer this question, I have to analyse carefully both points of view, Clytemnestra’s and Agamemnon’s. Agamemnon was killed by his wife in revenge for the killing of their daughter, Iphigeneia. Agamemnon felt that the sacrificing of Iphigeneia was necessary to calm Artemis, as Artemis would not let the Greek army set sail until a sacrifice was made, in recompense for the impending slaughter of Troy.

Agamemnon, under intense pressure from the Greek army took the life of his daughter Iphigeneia, and then proceeded to Troy for ten years, leaving Clytemnestra at home. The decision to sacrifice Iphigeneia must have been a very difficult one to make, as he would have known that his wife would be distraught.

The army was in such a hurry to sack Troy that they forced Agamemnon into the decision to kill his daughter; he was also tricked by Atê into thinking that Iphigeneia was an animal, and persuaded that the death was necessary by Peitho. Considering Clytemnestra for a moment; the pain that she must of endured giving birth, and raising a child, only to witness the “offspring of our [Clytemnestra’s and Agamemnon’s] loins, Iphigeneia, girl of tears” executed by her husband and his blood-lusting army, must have been excruciatingly painful for Clytemnestra. Leaving his wife for ten years, and allowing all her feelings of hatred and anger build up inside her was a very dangerous mistake for Agamemnon to make. A further mistake that Agamemnon made was allowing his army to destroy the temples in Troy; in doing this, he committed a supreme act of sacrilege against the gods. Agamemnon frequently commits hubris, but believes that there is no harm in it. Agamemnon: sacrifices his daughter; destroys Trojan temples that are dedicated to gods that he himself worships; and allows himself to be persuaded by Clytemnestra, accepting the acclaim for winning the Trojan war. If Agamemnon had a little more self-control, he would still have had the gods on his side. An element of Clytemnestra’s murderous scheme was to entice Agamemnon into accepting timé, and upon his return, Clytemnestra told him that he deserved recognition for winning the Trojan war; he should walk not on mortal earth, but upon a red carpet of tapestries to his home. In undertaking this action, Agamemnon made the mistake of accepting that he had won the war, and this arrogance led to the gods abandoning him. Without the gods protection, Agamemnon would inevitably perish.

In conclusion, although there were extraordinary circumstances surrounding the sacrifice of Iphigeneia, Agamemnon deserved his fate because of his egotism - his belief that he alone had won the war for Greece. If he had not committed the hubristic act of walking on the red carpet, I seriously doubt that the gods would have allowed Clytemnestra to proceed with the crime. Also, considering Clytemnestra’s need for revenge, I believe that her actions are justified, as the cliché “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is appropriate here. In killing Iphigeneia, Agamemnon resurrected the curse of his family line - he left Clytemnestra for ten years to plot his demise with her lover Aegisthus; who incidentally wants revenge for the treatment of his father in the company of Agamemnon’s father, Atreus.

If Agamemnon had tried to soften the anger of Artemis with other offers of sacrifice, there would have been no need to sacrifice his daughter to Artemis, and Agamemnon’s downfall never would have transpired. Also, if he had not allowed himself to be persuaded by Clytemnestra to walk upon the crimson silk when he returned home, the gods would not have abandoned him; which leads me to the conclusion that Agamemnon lacks determination and strength of will - he has no ability to turn his wife down, or to risk the wrath of a god in an effort to calm her.

Agamemnon’s koros led to him committing hubris against the gods, and this, in turn invited Atê: this is why Agamemnon deserved his terrible fate.

Nikki Hibbert A1B