Villain or heroine?
Clytemnestra, one of the most misunderstood characters in all of the Oresteia. By most she is looked at as a terrible monster of a woman who killed her husband to take another man as her lover and then banished her children, but if her story is actually looked back on she might have every justifiable reason to have kicked Agamemnon to the curb. Not only does Agamemnon kill her daughter just so he can go to war –talk about daddy problems-, but they begin much before that when Agamemnon kills her first husband and son and then takes her as property from the man he just defeated. Also Clytemnestra has been cursed since birth to be an adulterer which is a small part of the reason she decides to take Aegisthus as a lover; to finish everything off Agamemnon is gone for ten years in troy and after all that he comes back with a mistress Cassandra. -Clytemnestra just cannot win with this guy- Needless to say she is one very emotional and torn up woman which is never a good combination, but could give reason to her seemingly irrational actions. Although she is mostly looked at as a villain, Clytemnestra is merely acting out upon her long festering emotions against Agamemnon because she can no longer handle being treated like nothing more than the spoils of war to Agamemnon, Agamemnon murdered her daughter, she has been cursed since birth to become an adulterer, and Agamemnon’s poor decision to bring home a mistress who –if Clytemnestra wasn’t upset yet this certainly did the trick- enrages her even more.
We’ll begin with a little back story behind Clytemnestra. She’s the daughter of Tyndareus and Leda and therefore was Helen's half-sister. (Helen queen of Sparta, wife to Menelaus, her kidnaping starts the whole Trojan War, yeah that Helen.) She is betrothed by her father to Tantalus while she was still a virgin, because Tantalus was the son of Thyestes who was the king of Mycenae, so Clytemnestra automatically became a queen –pretty nice perk-. Soon after their marriage she gave birth to a son, named Tantalus. After the birth of their child, Tantalus and his newborn were killed by Agamemnon who also obtained Clytemnestra as property from the man whom he just defeated –talk about a crappy day-. Clytemnestra goes from a queen to war property just like that, her whole life is stripped out from under her. This was the first real big tragedy in Clytemnestra's life caused by Agamemnon. Any normal woman wouldn’t be able to handle that from someone, being the spoils of war doesn’t sound like a pleasant thing, and just think about men back then. If girls were to get married it wasn’t to someone who they chose, and the best perks they could get from the situation was that he was some kind of royalty and at least they would have some comfort in life. Wait… doesn’t that sound exactly like what Clytemnestra had? Oh yeah that’s because it was until Agamemnon decided to wreck her whole word and kill not only her husband but her son too. (This won’t be the only child of hers that he kills) Of course by marrying the queen Agamemnon now becomes king, but somebody doesn’t just get over the murder of a son and husband. Mother and child hold a special bond it’s said that a baby knows its mother only a few hours after it’s born but doesn’t recognize its father until fourteen days after its born. Talk about a serious bond between mother and child. Obviously Clytemnestra is broken hearted about the whole thing and most women probably would have done away with Agamemnon, or their own life right there given her current situation, but part of her is so messed up by that she just goes along with what’s happened most likely because she understands her place as a woman in that time, however there is only so much of that someone can take before cracking. Exhibit one why Clytemnestra is merely a victim in this story.
Next on the list, the second murder of her child. All is going fine and dandy for the “love struck” war partners....
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