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In Greek mythology, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
(/æɡəˈmɛmnɒn/; Greek: Ἀγαμέμνων) was the son of King Atreus
Atreus
and Queen Aerope
Aerope
of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
and the father of Iphigenia, Electra
Electra
or Laodike (Λαοδίκη), Orestes
Orestes
and Chrysothemis.[1] Legends make him the king of Mycenae
Mycenae
or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area.[2] When Helen, the wife of Menelaus, was taken to Troy
Troy
by Paris, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
commanded the united Greek armed forces in the ensuing Trojan War. Upon Agamemnon's return from Troy, he was murdered (according to the oldest surviving account, Odyssey
Odyssey
11.409–11) by Aegisthus, the lover of his wife, Clytemnestra. In old versions of the story, the scene of the murder, when it is specified, is usually the house of Aegisthus, who has not taken up residence in Agamemnon's palace, and it involves an ambush and the deaths of Agamemnon's followers as well.[3] In some later versions Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
herself does the killing, or they act together as accomplices, killing Agamemnon
Agamemnon
in his own home.

Contents

1 Etymology 2 Early life 3 Trojan War 4 Return to Greece 5 Genealogy 6 Other stories 7 See also 8 References 9 Sources

9.1 Primary sources 9.2 Secondary sources

10 External links

Etymology[edit] His name in Greek, Ἀγαμέμνων, means "very steadfast", "unbowed". The word comes from *Ἀγαμέδμων from ἄγαν, "very much" and μέδομαι, "think on".[4] Early life[edit] Atreus, Agamemnon's father, murdered the children of his twin brother Thyestes
Thyestes
and fed them to Thyestes
Thyestes
after discovering Thyestes' adultery with his wife Aerope. Thyestes
Thyestes
fathered Aegisthus
Aegisthus
with his own daughter, Pelopia, and this son vowed gruesome revenge on Atreus' children. Aegisthus
Aegisthus
successfully murdered Atreus
Atreus
and restored his father to the throne. Aegisthus
Aegisthus
took possession of the throne of Mycenae
Mycenae
and jointly ruled with Thyestes. During this period, Agamemnon and his brother, Menelaus, took refuge with Tyndareus, King of Sparta. There they respectively married Tyndareus' daughters Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
and Helen. Agamemnon
Agamemnon
and Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
had four children: one son, Orestes, and three daughters, Iphigenia, Electra
Electra
and Chrysothemis. Menelaus succeeded Tyndareus
Tyndareus
in Sparta, while Agamemnon, with his brother's assistance, drove out Aegisthus
Aegisthus
and Thyestes
Thyestes
to recover his father's kingdom. He extended his dominion by conquest and became the most powerful prince in Greece.[5] Agamemnon's family history had been tarnished by murder, incest, and treachery, consequences of the heinous crime perpetrated by his ancestor, Tantalus, and then of a curse placed upon Pelops, son of Tantalus, by Myrtilus, whom he had murdered. Thus misfortune hounded successive generations of the House of Atreus, until atoned by Orestes in a court of justice held jointly by humans and gods. Trojan War[edit] Main article: Trojan War Agamemnon
Agamemnon
gathered the reluctant Greek forces to sail for Troy. Preparing to depart from Aulis, which was a port in Boeotia, Agamemnon's army incurred the wrath of the goddess Artemis. There are several reasons throughout myth for such wrath: in Aeschylus' play Agamemnon, Artemis
Artemis
is angry for the young men who will die at Troy, whereas in Sophocles' Electra, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
has slain an animal sacred to Artemis, and subsequently boasted that he was Artemis' equal in hunting. Misfortunes, including a plague and a lack of wind, prevented the army from sailing. Finally, the prophet Calchas
Calchas
announced that the wrath of the goddess could only be propitiated by the sacrifice of Agamemnon's daughter Iphigenia.

Achilles' surrender of Briseis
Briseis
to Agamemnon, from the House of the Tragic Poet in Pompeii, fresco, 1st century AD, now in the Naples National Archaeological Museum

Classical dramatizations differ on how willing either father or daughter was to this fate; some include such trickery as claiming she was to be married to Achilles, but Agamemnon
Agamemnon
did eventually sacrifice Iphigenia. Her death appeased Artemis, and the Greek army set out for Troy. Several alternatives to the human sacrifice have been presented in Greek mythology. Other sources, such as Iphigenia
Iphigenia
at Aulis, say that Agamemnon
Agamemnon
was prepared to kill his daughter, but that Artemis accepted a deer in her place, and whisked her away to Tauris
Tauris
in the Crimean Peninsula. Hesiod
Hesiod
said she became the goddess Hecate. Agamemnon
Agamemnon
was the commander-in-chief of the Greeks during the Trojan War. During the fighting, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
killed Antiphus and fifteen other Trojan soldiers, according to one source.[6] But in the "Iliad" itself, he's shown to slaughter hundreds more in Book 11 during his "aristea" loosely translated to "day of glory" which is the most similar to Achilles' "aristea" in Book 21 (they both are compared to lions and destructive fires in battle, their hands are described as "splattered with gore" and "invincible," the Trojans flee to the walls, they both are appealed to by one of their victims, they are both avoided by Hector, they both get wounded in the arm or hand, and they both kill the one who wounded them). Even before his "aristea," Agamemnon
Agamemnon
was considered to be one of the three best warriors on the Greek side as proven when Hector
Hector
challenges any champion of the Greek side to fight him in Book 7, and Agamemnon
Agamemnon
(along with Diomedes
Diomedes
and Big Aias) is one of the three most wished for to face him out of the nine strongest Greek warriors who volunteered. And after they reconciled, even Achilles
Achilles
admits in Book 23 that Agamemnon
Agamemnon
is "the best in strength and in throwing the spear." That claim is further proven by the fact that Agamemnon
Agamemnon
was the only major warrior on either side to never need the gods' direct intervention to increase his strength or give him any unfair advantages in battle and yet he still caused incredible destruction almost on the scale of Achilles. The Iliad
Iliad
tells the story about the quarrel between Agamemnon
Agamemnon
and Achilles
Achilles
in the final year of the war. Following one of the Achaean Army's raids, Chryseis, daughter of Chryses, one of Apollo's priests, was taken as a war prize by Agamemnon. Chryses
Chryses
pleaded with Agamemnon to free his daughter but was met with little success. Chryses
Chryses
then prayed to Apollo
Apollo
for the safe return of his daughter, which Apollo responded to by unleashing a plague over the Achaean Army. After learning from the Prophet Calchas
Calchas
that the plague could be dispelled by returning Chryseis
Chryseis
to her father, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
reluctantly agreed, (but first berated Calchas
Calchas
for previously forcing Agamemnon
Agamemnon
to sacrifice his daughter (Iphigenia) and released his prize. However, as compensation for his lost prize, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
demanded a new prize. As a result, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
stole an attractive slave called Briseis, one of the spoils of war, from Achilles.[7] Achilles, the greatest warrior of the age, withdrew from battle in response to Agamemnon's action and put the Greek armies at risk of losing the war. Agamemnon, having realized Achilles's importance in winning the war against the Trojan Army, sent ambassadors begging for Achilles
Achilles
to return, offering him riches and the hand of his daughter in marriage, but Achilles
Achilles
refused, only being spurred back into action when his closest friend, Patroclus, was killed in battle. Although not the equal of Achilles
Achilles
in bravery, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
was a representative of "kingly authority". As commander-in-chief, he summoned the princes to the council and led the army in battle. His chief fault was his overwhelming haughtiness; an over-exalted opinion of his position that led him to insult Chryses
Chryses
and Achilles, thereby bringing great disaster upon the Greeks.[5] After the capture of Troy, Cassandra, the doomed prophetess and daughter of Priam, fell to Agamemnon's lot in the distribution of the prizes of war.[5] Return to Greece[edit]

Orestes
Orestes
slaying Clytemnestra

After a stormy voyage, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
and Cassandra
Cassandra
either landed in Argolis, or were blown off course and landed in Aegisthus' country. Clytemnestra, Agamemnon's wife, had taken Aegisthus, son of Thyestes, as a lover. When Agamemnon
Agamemnon
came home he was slain by either Aegisthus (in the oldest versions of the story)[8] or Clytemnestra. According to the accounts given by Pindar
Pindar
and the tragedians, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
was slain in a bath by his wife alone, a blanket of cloth or a net having first been thrown over him to prevent resistance.[9] Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
also killed Cassandra. Her jealousy of Cassandra, and her wrath at the sacrifice of Iphigenia
Iphigenia
and at Agamemnon's having gone to war over Helen of Troy, are said to have been the motives for her crime. [5] Aegisthus
Aegisthus
and Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
then ruled Agamemnon's kingdom for a time, Aegisthus
Aegisthus
claiming his right of revenge for Agamemnon's father Atreus having fed Thyestes
Thyestes
his own children ( Thyestes
Thyestes
then crying out "So perish all the race of Pleisthenes!",[10] thus explaining Aegisthus' action as justified by his father's curse). Agamemnon's son Orestes later avenged his father's murder, with the help or encouragement of his sister Electra, by murdering Aegisthus
Aegisthus
and Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
(his own mother), thereby inciting the wrath of the Erinyes
Erinyes
(English: the Furies), winged goddesses who tracked down wrongdoers with their hounds' noses and drove them to insanity. Genealogy[edit]

Genealogy of Agamemnon

Other stories[edit] Athenaeus
Athenaeus
tells a tale of how Agamemnon
Agamemnon
mourned the loss of his friend or lover Argynnus, when he drowned in the Cephisus river.[11] He buried him, honored with a tomb and a shrine to Aphrodite Argynnis.[12] This episode is also found in Clement of Alexandria,[13] in Stephen of Byzantium
Stephen of Byzantium
(Kopai and Argunnos), and in Propertius, III with minor variations.[14] The fortunes of Agamemnon
Agamemnon
have formed the subject of numerous tragedies, ancient and modern, the most famous being the Oresteia
Oresteia
of Aeschylus. In the legends of the Peloponnesus, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
was regarded as the highest type of a powerful monarch, and in Sparta
Sparta
he was worshipped under the title of Zeus
Zeus
Agamemnon. His tomb was pointed out among the ruins of Mycenae
Mycenae
and at Amyclae. Another account makes him the son of Pleisthenes (the son or father of Atreus), who is said to have been Aerope's first husband. In works of art, there is considerable resemblance between the representations of Zeus, king of the gods, and Agamemnon, king of men. He is generally depicted with a sceptre and diadem, conventional attributes of kings. Agamemnon's mare was named Aetha. She was also one of two horses driven by Menelaus
Menelaus
at the funeral games of Patroclus.[15][16] Following his death at the hands of Aegisthus, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
made an appearance in Homer's Odyssey
Odyssey
within the kingdom of Hades. There, the former king met Odysseus
Odysseus
and explained just how he was murdered before he offered Odysseus
Odysseus
a warning about the dangers of trusting a woman.[17] See also[edit]

HMS Agamemnon National Archaeological Museum of Athens

References[edit]

^ Homer, Iliad
Iliad
9:145. ^ Leeming, David (2005). Argos. Oxford Companion to World Mythology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199916481.  ^ Aeschylus
Aeschylus
(1986), Choephori; introduction by A. F. Garvie, Oxford University Press, p. x ^ R. S. P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, p. 8. ^ a b c d Chisholm 1911. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 114. ^ Homer, Iliad
Iliad
Translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1998 ^ Homer, Odyssey
Odyssey
3:266 ^ Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 1389 ^ Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 1602 ^ Lewis, Charlton T.; Short, Charles. "Argynnus". A Latin Dictionary. Perseus Project. Retrieved 16 September 2011.  ^ The Deipnosophists of Athenaeus
Athenaeus
of Naucratis, Book XIII Concerning Women, 80D (p. 603) ^ Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus II.38.2 ^ Butler, Harold Edgeworth & Barber, Eric Arthur, eds. (1933) The Elegies of Propertius. Oxford: Clarendon Press; p. 277 ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece; 5.8.3 ^ Plutarch, Amores, 21 ^ Homer, Odyssey
Odyssey
11: 485–486

Sources[edit] Primary sources[edit]

Homer, Iliad; Euripides, Electra; Sophocles, Electra; Seneca, Agamemnon Aeschylus, The Libation Bearers; Homer, Odyssey
Odyssey
I, 28–31; XI, 385–464; Aeschylus, Agamemnon Apollodorus, Epitome, II, 15 – III, 22; VI, 23.

Secondary sources[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Agamemnon". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 363–364. 

External links[edit]

Agamemnon
Agamemnon
- Ancient History Encyclopedia

v t e

Characters in the Iliad

Achaeans

Acamas Achilles Agamemnon Agapenor Ajax the Greater Ajax the Lesser Alcimus Anticlus Antilochus Arcesilaus Ascalaphus Automedon Balius and Xanthus Bias Calchas Diomedes Elephenor Epeius Eudoros Euryalus Eurybates Eurydamas Eurypylus Guneus Helen Ialmenus Idomeneus Leitus Leonteus Lycomedes Machaon Medon Meges Menelaus Menestheus Meriones Neoptolemus Nestor Nireus Odysseus Palamedes Patroclus Peneleos Philoctetes Phoenix Podalirius Podarces Polites Polypoetes Promachus Protesilaus Prothoenor Schedius Stentor Sthenelus Talthybius Teucer Thersites Thoas Thrasymedes Tlepolemus

Trojans

Aeneas Aesepus Agenor Alcathous Amphimachus Anchises Andromache Antenor Antiphates Antiphus Archelochus Asius Asteropaios Astyanax Atymnius Axylus Briseis Calesius Caletor Cassandra Chryseis Chryses Clytius Coön Dares Phrygius Deiphobus Dolon Epistrophus Euphemus Euphorbus Glaucus Gorgythion Hector Hecuba Helenus Hyperenor Hypsenor Ilioneus Imbrius Iphidamas Kebriones Laocoön Lycaon Melanippus Mentes Mydon Mygdon of Phrygia Othryoneus Pandarus Panthous Paris Pedasus Peirous Phorcys Polites Polydamas Polybus Polydorus Priam Pylaemenes Pylaeus Pyraechmes Rhesus of Thrace Sarpedon Theano Ucalegon

v t e

Characters in the Odyssey

House of Odysseus

Penelope
Penelope
(wife) Telemachus
Telemachus
(son) Ctimene (sister) Anticlea (mother) Laërtes (father) Autolycus (grandfather) Eurycleia
Eurycleia
(chief servant) Mentor (advisor) Phemius (musician) Eumaeus
Eumaeus
(swineherd) Philoetius (cowherd) Melanthius (goatherd) Argos
Argos
(pet-dog)

Monarchs and royals

Alcinous
Alcinous
of Phaeacia Arete of Phaeacia Nestor of Pylos Menelaus
Menelaus
of Sparta Princess Nausicaa
Nausicaa
of Phaeacia Agamemnon
Agamemnon
of Mycenae

Gods

Athena Apollo Artemis Atlas Calypso Circe Hermes Poseidon Zeus Oceanus

Others

Achilles Aeolus Ajax Amphimedon Anticlus Antiphates Antiphus Aretus Cyclopes Demodocus Demoptolemus Deucalion Dolius Echephron Echetus Elpenor Eupeithes Euryalus Eurylochus Halitherses Helen Heracles Idomeneus Irus Kikonians Laodamas Laestrygones Medon Melantho Mentes Old Man of the Sea Peisistratus Perimedes Perseus Polites Polydamna Polyphemus Scylla and Charybdis Sirens Stratichus Tiresias Theoclymenus Thrasymedes

Suitors

Agelaus Amphinomus Antinous Ctesippus Eurymachus Leodes

v t e

Iphigenia
Iphigenia
in Aulis and Iphigenia
Iphigenia
in Tauris
Tauris
by Euripides

Iphigenia's family

Agamemnon
Agamemnon
(father) Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
(mother) Aegisthus
Aegisthus
(stepfather) Orestes
Orestes
(brother) Electra
Electra
(sister) Chrysothemis (sister)

Iphigenia
Iphigenia
in Aulis

Operas

Iphigénie en Aulide
Iphigénie en Aulide
(1774, Gluck)

Plays

Iphigénie
Iphigénie
(1674)

Film

Iphigenia
Iphigenia
(1977)

Novel

The Songs of the Kings

Trilogy

The Bacchae Alcmaeon in Corinth

Related

Bash: Latter-Day Plays The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Iphigenia
Iphigenia
in Tauris

Operas

Iphigénie
Iphigénie
en Tauride (1699, Desmarets and Campra) Ifigenia in Tauride (1771, Jommelli) Iphigénie
Iphigénie
en Tauride (1779, Gluck)

discography

Iphigénie
Iphigénie
en Tauride (1781, Piccinni)

Plays

Iphigenia
Iphigenia
in Tauris
Tauris
(1779)

v t e

Electra

Family

Agamemnon
Agamemnon
(father) Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
(mother) Aegisthus
Aegisthus
(stepfather) Orestes
Orestes
(brother) Iphigenia
Iphigenia
(sister) Chrysothemis (sister)

Films

Mourning Becomes Electra
Electra
(1947) Electra
Electra
(1962) Sandra (1965) The Forgotten Pistolero
The Forgotten Pistolero
(1969) Electra, My Love
Electra, My Love
(1974) The Travelling Players
The Travelling Players
(1975) Ellie (1984) Electra
Electra
(2010)

Operas

Idoménée
Idoménée
(1712, Campra) Idomeneo
Idomeneo
(1780, Mozart) Oresteia
Oresteia
(1895, Taneyev) Elektra (1909, Strauss/von Hofmannsthal)

discography

Leben des Orest (1930, Krenek) Mourning Becomes Electra
Electra
(1967, Levy/Butler)

Literature

Oresteia
Oresteia
(458 BC, Aeschylus) Electra
Electra
(c. 413 BC, Euripides) Orestes
Orestes
(c. 408 BC, Euripides) Electra
Electra
(c. 405 BC, Sophocles) Electra
Electra
(1937, Giraudoux) The Flies (1943, Sartre) Elektra (1971, Wijesinha) Mourning Becomes Electra
Electra
(1931, O'Neill) Elektra (1981, Marvel)

Art

Orestes
Orestes
and Electra

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 45103428 GND: 119059738 SUDO

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