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Aeschylus's treatment of the theme of hereditary guilt in Agamemnon

Aeschylus is an ancient playwright of Greek literature, who wrote tragedies and turned tragic plays to perfection and theme of hereditary guilt in Agamemnon . His 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. In the ten years between the fall of Troy and the rise of Athens,  the social and political life of Greece underwent many dangers. Aeschylus and his contemporaries had spent their youth amidst tyrannies, revolution and wars. The play Agamemnon is based on a background history that deals with hereditary curse. This curse was brought on by crime, and crime breeds crime. The sin of Atreus of killing two sons of Thyestes, and the curse of Thyestes upon Atreus's family determine the curse of life of Agamemnon.

Agamemnon's sacrifice of his daughter out of superstitious belief breeds the seeds of revenge in his wife. Thus the tragedy develops through a nexus of curse, sin, retribution and revenge. In the Oresteia Aeschylus studies a curse upon a house and he takes up the legends of the House of Atreus. It is a long story and can be well understood if we begin with the forefathers of Atreus. No family in Greek legend had so shameful a history of crimes against men and gods as the family founded by Tantalus, one of the sons of zeus. Tantalus himself offended the immortals and was punished in hades by the peculiar tortures that have given us the word 'tantalize'. pelops, his son, was killed by Tantalus and served to the gods as food but was later restored to life by Hermes. This Pelops became the father of Atreus and Thyestes. In this tragedy, Aeschylus has presented a series of great situation, harmoniously combined in a single action. Pelops had two sons named Atreus and Thvestes. There was an apple of discord between the two brothers regarding the succession to the throne of Argos. 

Besides, Thyestes had seduced the wife of Atreus. At this Atreus became very angry with Thyestes and resolved to punish him. He secretly murdered Thyestes's two sons and served their flesh to Thyestes at a banquet. Thyestes became aware of the secret and cursed Atreus wishing the destruction of Atreus's generations. Thyestes along with his only son Aegisthus went into exile. Thyestes himself got away with murder but such debts are not forgotten. After Atreus's death, his eldest son Agamemnon inherited the throne of Argos. Along with it, the curse of Thyestes had settled on the family. Later his brother Menelaus became the king of Sparta in succession to his father-in-law Tyndoreos. Tyndoreos's wife, in incest with Zeus, gave birth to twin daughter--Helen and Clytemnestra. Numerous suitors were attracted to Helen for her extraordinary beauty. Menelaus married Helen; on the other hand, Agamemnon married Clytemnestra.

Priam, the king of Troy, sent his youngest son Paris as an ambassador to Sparta. There Paris was entertained by Helen and Menelaus. In the absence of Menelaus, Paris developed an adulterous relationship with Helen and later on kidnapped her with the help of Aphrodite. When Menelaus returned, he made an appeal to pursue Helen to Troy. At this the Greek chieftains with Agamemnon at their head, gathered a great force of men end ships at Aulis where they prepared to sail for Troy. And there Agamemnon, hunting one day, killed a stag sacred to the virgin goddess Artemis, who visited upon the Greek camp a deadly pestilence and calmed the winds to prevent the Greeks sailing. To appease the goddess, Agamemnon, on the advice of a priest, consented to sacrifice to Artemis his daughter Iphigenia, who was sent to Aulis by her mother under the impression that the girl was to be married to the great Greek hero Achilles. But in reality, Agamemnon had to slaughter his virgin daughter, Iphigenia, to satisfy Artemis. This made Clytemnestra revengeful. In absence of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra made an incestuous relationship with Aegisthus, the son of Thyestes, to take revenge upon Agamemnon. Besides, Agamemnon bsiught a Trojan princess named Cassandra as his mistress whom Clytemnestra disliked vehemently. At last Agamemnon was killed by Clytemnestra. 

On the other hand, Menelaus could not return home for his fleet was devastated by the storm. Agamemnon is neither a man of unblemished goodness nor is he an unmitigated villain. He can be exonerated from the charge of the sacrifice of Iphigenia; he can be exonerated from the charge of Hubris, which was his besetting sin. Agamemnon was a victim of the curse of Thyestes, which has been hovering over all the members of the House of Atreus. The tragic play Agamemnon do├Ęs not get a perfect shape without the hereditary curse. The hereditary curse is much responsible for the hero's doom, as his own sin. It also would have lost much of its human significance without this hered . 

The tragic play Agamemnon does not get a perfect shape without the hereditary curse. The hereditary curse is much responsible for the hero's doom, as his own sin. It also would have lost much of its human significance without this hereditary guilt. It is clear that Agamemnon is the victim of hereditary curse. It is a tragedy of curse and revenge. Aeschylus showed his skill successfully in Agamemnon and made it an ever lasting piece of great tragedy for its subject matter.


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