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Red Carpet in Aeschylus play Agamemnon

Agamemnon is a classical Greek tragedy written by Aeschylus in which he entails the continuation of the curse on the House of Atreus in the time period following the end of the Trojan War and the return of king Agamemnon. This play tells of the murder of cassandra and Agamemnon by Agamemnon's wife Clytemnestra. Aeschylus' tragedies certainly deal with death, but life always asserts itself amidst the lurid dance of death. Life in his time was lived at an intense level. His plays are a poignant expression of that sense of intensity. The vision of life as we find in Agamemon is undoubtedly far more realistic than man can think of even in the modern times. The tragedy, Agamemnon, is written on a simple theme-the safe home-coming of a king. 

But its author raises the primary issues of life and death and presents the problems of the vicissitudes of human fortune, of man's prosperity and adversity in it as he does in his other plays. Before we discuss the original question let us for a while look at the meaning of the word Hubris. Hubris means overweening pride or insolence. It was considered to be the greatest sin or crime on the part of man. Man cannot take pride in anything as he is dependent on gods regarding all matters of his life. Gods do not let anyone go unpunished if he is guilty of Hubris. The virtue opposed to Hubris is humility. Man must remain loyal to gods without questioning their actions and authority. The term Nemesis means the personification of the gods' resentment at and consequent punishment of pride or Hubris towards themselves. It, therefore, follows that if anybody is found guilty of Hubris, he will inevitably be punished. Agamemnon is the first play of the Oresteian Trilogy. Aeschylus wants to present a moral order in this play. Agamemnon is  born in a cursed family and inherits the crime of his father Atreus. Although Nemesis visits upon even the fourth generation, no man can be punished absolutely for the crime of his father or grandfather. This goes against the principle of justice. Gods cannot be unjust and  so they can not punish a man for other's faults. Almost all the main characters we come across in the trilogy are sinners. Agamemnon kaills his daughter Iphigenia, Clytemnestra murders her husband and Orestes kills his own mother. The shedding of kindred blood is a major crime and Agamemnon and Orestes have to be punished as they had shed the blood of their kins. But they had to commit sin under different circumstances. Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter to carry out his national duty while Orestes had to kill his mother to take revenge of his father's murder. It is a duty levied on him by religion and society. Agamemnon has to make a choice between his national and  filial duty but he chooses wrongly, therefore, the sin is his. The analysis of Agamemnon's character reveals that he has hubris.

On different occasions he is found to have shown hubris consciously and unconsciously. After the fall of Troy, the women were taken captives and Cassandra was chosen as his share of the spoil. He knows that Cassandra is prophetess loved and cursed by Apollo. Apollo doomed her to be always true prophetess and yet always disbelieved. Still he respected 'her virginity. But Agamemnon violated her as Apollo left untouched. So he deserved to be punished for his audacity. The episode of Red Carpet reception is the most crucial to the punishment of Agamemnon. A man whatever might be his earthly rank and position must not walk upon the Red Carpet. The Red Carpet figuratively means privileged treatment of a very important visitor. In the Greek society, it meant much more. To walk on the Red Carpet' was an act of impudence, an act of blasphemy defying the authority of the gods. Anybody doing it was charged with Hubris or pride, one of the seven deadliest sins of the mortal. Clytemnestra was bent on leading Agamemnon into this crime so that he would be deprived of divine help. After welcoming Agamemnon, she calls upon her maids to spread a carpet of purple cloth from the chariot to the palace door to receive the feet of the conqueror. In reply Agamemnon rebukes her. She does not protest but appeals to him with all her persuasive eloquence. But Agamemnon replies to resist the temptation: 
....To the gods alone Such tributes should be paid, for mortal man To trample on rich webs of varied hue To me is a thing by no means void of fears I seek for human honours, not divine. 

Agamemnon's speech is of modesty and humility. But his wife cajoles him to be no less glorious than gods as he has conquered the the city of Troy. By her strong will, Clytemnestra easily overcomes her husband and soon he falls to her trap inviting his own doom. Yet before treading upon the purple cloth he asks his slave to take away the shoes from his feet. This taking off of the boots is a mere show because he doe because he does not want to soil the costly rugs with his unwashed feet. But when he says "let that pass" shows his indifference to gods'  honour and even of negligence to them. Now the question may arise that Agamemnon like Macbeth was persuaded to commit this act of Hubris instigated by his wife. Macbeth does not doubt the sincerity of his wife. She is very faithful to him. But Agamemnon had already a suspicion about his wife. Yet to save his image as a fearless man and being pleased by his wife's sweet words he walks upon the purple cloth. So Nemesis must follow totally discuss on red carpet episode.

Life is a crucial and endless struggle. "The doer must suffer and by suffering man learns". Man too learns in the end of the folly of misdoing. Agamemnon has to pay for the crime of his father and for the circumstances that surround him like a net but above all, his personal failure or Hubris is no less responsible for the punishment he receives at the hand of the divine authority.


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