Aeschylus: Agamemnon; Or The Aesthetic Repudiation Of Hypergamy

To heaven, O Queen, will I upraise new song;
But, wouldst though speak once more, I fain would hear
From first to last the marvel of the tale. . .
A gracious word the woman’s lips have told,
Worthy a wise man’s utterance, O my queen;
Now with clear trust in thy convincing tale
I set me to salute the gods with song,
Who brings us bliss to counterpoise our pain.

-Spoken by the Leader Of The Chorus, Agamemnon

Hypergamy leapt from the mind of the bloated ego of an ancient goddess; armed with the steel of rationalization, clothed in the fur of a thousand hamsters, so does she spin.  Clytemnestra had it all. Queen of Mycenae, wife of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra wanted for naught; what she desired was to be provided.  The Chorus of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon is composed of the elders of Mycenae, given the above purple-poesied flattery one can only imagine the extent the men of Mycenae went to ensure their queen knew how special and unique she was.

Hypergamy cannot be satisfied. Agamemnon cannot satisfy it.  Apollo himself could not.

The difference between Agamemnon and Clytemnestra shines in the first scene they share.  Agamemnon has returned and hail’s from his chariot, but waits to dismount that he might share a prayer for those whose lives were lost on Ilion shores.  Then gives the following description of the loyalty of his soldiers; an ironic appraisal considering his hypergamous wife.

For few are they who have such inborn grace,
As to look up with love, and envy not,
When stands another on the height of weal.
Deep in his heart, whom jealousy hath seized,
Her poison lurking doth enhance his load;
For now beneath his proper woes he chafes,
And sighs withal to see another’s weal.

I speak not idly, but from knowledge sure–
There be who vaunt an utter loyalty,
That is but as the ghost of friendship dead,
A shadow in a glass, of faith gone by.
One only-he who went reluctant forth
Across the seas with me–Odysseus–he
Was loyal unto me with strength and will,
A trusty trace-horse bound unto my car.

Clytemnestra on the other hand, though living a pampered existence without a care, a sea away from the dangers of war, is the one deserving our pity.  Just ask her.

First, that a wife sat sundered from her lord,
In widowed solitude, was utter woe
And woe, to hear how rumour’s many tongues
All boded evil-woe, when he who came
And he who followed spake of ill on ill,
Keening lost, lost, all lost! thro’ hall and bower.

. . .

And thus distraught by news of wrath and woe,
Oft for self-slaughter had I slung the noose,
But others wrenched it from my neck away.
Hence haps it that Orestes, thine and mine,
The pledge and symbol of our wedded troth,
Stands not beside us now, as he should stand.

To the end the hamster will forever defend the hypergamous:

My guilt though harpest, o’er and o’er!
I bid thee reckon me no more
As Agamemnon’s spouse.
The old Avenger, stern of mood
For Atreus and his feast of blood,
Hath struck the lord of Atreus’s house,
And in the semblance of his wife
The king hath slain.

Clytemnestra after she has bludgeoned Agamemnon.

Don’t worthy that she murdered her husband because it isn’t her fault.  She is unnnhhhaaappy because she is a part of the house of Atreus. Therefore, she didn’t really kill him.  I love lady logic.


Veritas numquam perit,
The Poet

**For some unbeknownst reason, I have been unable to compress the PDF of Agamemnon to a more reasonable size than 40Mb, bully.

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One Response to Aeschylus: Agamemnon; Or The Aesthetic Repudiation Of Hypergamy

  1. Pingback: Linkage is fucking awesome « The Two Fisted Traveler

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