☆ Read ↠´ Agamemnon (Oresteia, #1) by Aeschylus ↠´ Book Review3 out of 5 stars to Agamemnon, the first of the Orestia plays written in 458 BC by Aeschylus Peter Arnott, a noted scholar and critic, has stated that, The Agamemnon is a bitter indictment of war, of the folly of bloodshed, of the hardships of fighting, of the misery at home I couldn t agree The Trojan War began when Paris and the married Helen ran back to Troy because Helen belonged to Menelaus For over ten years Menelaus, Agamemnon, and their troops fought the Trojans to recapture Helen and punish her However, when the war ended and Menelaus captured Helen, he looked at her and forgave her for the adultery The whole Trojan War, caused by the adulterous Helen, only contributed to ten years of senseless murders, foolish bloodshed, and built up anger As a result, Agamemnon gave up ten years of his life to help his brother Upon his return to Argos, Agamemnon s wife killed him for sacrificing Iphigenia, which he only did to leave for Troy Thousands of men and woman suffered and lost their lives just so Menelaus could have his wife back There must have been some kind of misery at home to make her need love, lust and passion If there wasn t, she would not have run off with the handsome prince Paris However, Helen did help make The Agamemnon a folly of bloodshed among innocent citizens Adulterous Helen was a major element that also supports Arnott s beliefs that The Agamemnon was an act of misery at home Although Helen was the primary cause of the Trojan War, the curse on the house of Atreus helped make The Agamemnon a bitter indictment of war Ever since Atreus and Thyestes battled to inherit the throne from their father the family suffered at the hands of reciprocity It was a game of one up mans ship It began when Atreus banished Thyestes from Argos and most recently ended when Thyestes son Aegisthus slept with Agamemnon s wife Clytemnestra Between these events were affairs, phony banquets of reconciliation, and the consumption of human children In The Agamemnon, when Agamemnon returns, his wife Clytemnestra brutally murders him carrying on the family curse This misery at home is because of the curse Each generation of the house of Atreus murders another member and is then murdered himself This offers support to Arnott s claim that The Agamemnon is a bitter indictment of war and the folly of bloodshed Again, the brutal murder of Agamemnon contributes to the folly of bloodshed If Agamemnon did not help Menelaus, he would not have gone off to fight the war and then come home to suffer at the hands of a senseless curse This curse also protrudes from misery at home Each family member must have been miserable enough, angry enough, and vengeful enough to kill another However, the most contributing factor that supports Arnott s claim is the sacrifice of Iphigenia at Aulis When all the troops met at Aulis to set sail for Troy, the winds were not in their favor In a rush to win back Helen, Agamemnon realized that he had to sacrifice his innocent daughter Iphigenia to get favorable winds from Strymon He was forced to make a decision between killing his daughter and losing his respect and the war This supports Arnott s commentary that there were many hardships of fighting the war in The Agamemnon It also shows that the shedding of Iphigenia s blood was a foolish act only destined to happen for the sake of winning the warAbout MeFor those new to me or my reviews here s the scoop I read A LOT I write A LOT And now I blog A LOT First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at where you ll also find TV Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I ve visited all over the world And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who what when where and my pictures Leave a comment and let me know what you think Vote in the poll and ratings Thanks for stopping by.
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The First StrikeEach of the plays that make up The Oresteia tetralogy are supposed to be stand alone pieces as well as perfect complements to each other All the themes that The Oresteia is to explore later are planted and ready for internal development at the end of Agamemnon Aeschylus works magic with the triadic structure of the plays and of greek rituals the fourth was probably a conventional satyr play and is lost to us by going for a feeling of tit for tat of conventional revenge stories in the first two and a third and final resolution in the third though I feel game theory wise a tit for two tats additional play would have made for a good thought experiment So in Agamemnon we are presented with the first strike and the tit for tat is ready, prophesied and waiting inevitably for the reader viewer in the next part It is the bleakest and most ominous ending to a play that I have witnessed because unlike a Hamlet, here there is no cosmic meaning to give us solace either Agamemnon ends ominously and without significance in itself, leaving us with the feeling that the tragedy has just begun and there is a long road yet to be traversed before we can glimpse any possibility of a resolution A Note on the TranslationsI have over the past several months read the whole play only Agamemnon in multiple translations A few thoughts on each The Richmond Latti Translation is sonorous and grand quite impressive You feel like you are really reading an ancient master, unlike in the Fagles version However, it uses complex structures and hence the reading is not quite smooth With Fagles you can just read on and on and never stop due to a complex phrasing or unclear meaning, but with latti you have to pause and rewind often to catch the exact drift.
The Robert Fagles Translation is immediate and easy on the ear It is also quite easy to grasp as the words do not form confusing structures as it does in the Latti translation However I felt a certain something missing and couldn t put my finger on it I prefer the Latti version.
A Morshead Translation Rhythmic but compromises on ease of reading to achieve the metric scheme Could hardly grasp a thing on first reading of most verses Has the advantage that it demarcates the Strophe, Antistrophe Epode of each choral ode and that helps the reader visualize better None of the other translations do this and I felt it was very useful The Alan Shapiro Translation Written in beautiful blank verse, this is probably the best placed to merit first rank as a poetic work Shapiro injects new power into the verse by his poetic take and provides a fresh perspective on almost all important scenes and imagery But needs to be a supplementary read since it departs often from the other translations in sometimes subtle and sometimes significant ways It tries to be an improvement on the Latti version but in my opinion it can at best be read as an additional indulgence by the reader already well acquainted with Latti The Headlam Translation is bilingual and gives the Greek text on the facing page This is useful in clarifying doubts arising from conflicting translations or interpretations The translation itself is slightly long winded and pompous and does not strike the fine balance that Latti strikes between majesty and simplicity Does provide the most elaborate stage directions and that is a plus as an aid to accurate visualization which in my opinion can make or break your reading of almost exotic plays.
The Denniston Commentary, the edition under which this review appears is one which I have not read and do not have access to and in the interests of neutrality I have selected it since it has no translation and is in fact the Greek text itself with english commentary, which seems to be widely accepted as some of the best scholastic commentary on the play.
I will add notes on other translations if and when I track them down.
The Homecoming of Agamemnon02 July 2012 This is the first part of the only Greek trilogy that we have The play is set after the Trojan War in the city of Argos, of which Agamemnon is the ruler Agamemnon s wife learns of the defeat of the Trojans and the imminent return of her husband through the use of a series of beacons However while she is eagerly awaiting her husband s return, it is a different scenario from Odysseus wife Penelope, who remained faithful to her husband for the twenty years he was away Instead, while Agamemnon was away, she took a lover, Aegisthus, and is plotting her revenge for the murder of her daughter at Aulis There is a lot of background to this play, but that is not uncommon for Greek drama in that they are set within a complex historical context that has a lot of past events that all tie in together and also provide the precursor to a lot of other events This is probably why the trilogy was so popular in that it enabled the playwright to look to the events that arose within the play and also that Greek plays tend to be quite short Agamemnon is a man with a lot of enemies, but then that is to be expected in relation to a man that had set himself up as overlord of Greece However, his father had tricked Aegisthus father, Thyestes, into eating his children, but Aegisthus managed to escape, and by allowing Clytemnestra Agamemnon s wife to take him as her lover puts him in the best position to extract his revenge However, Clytemnestra did not need much encouraging to murder Agamemnon, as prior to the war, he sacrificed his daughter, Iphagenia, so that the war would be successful actually it was so that the winds would change to enable the fleet to sail to Troy This is going to upset most mothers, though to add insult to injury, he brought Cassandra back as his prize, so he effectively arrives in Argos to face an angry wife with a woman that he picked up to take her place when she was not around However, it is clear that Clytemnestra s actions were not looked upon all that well While revenge is acceptable to the Greeks, it does not seem to be the case where it is the woman seeking revenge As with a lot of Aeschylus plays, it seems to be very little on the action, and a lot on the storytelling While Clytaemnestra does appear at the beginning of the play, it is not until a quarter of the way through that she first speaks In fact, most of the major characters only appear for a short time The only major character that is on the stage for an extended period of time is Cassandra, and she is trying to warn the Chorus of what is to come, but due to her curse nobody believes her It seems that a majority of the play actually revolves around Cassandra and her prophecies, and also the curse that has been placed upon her to be able to predict the future, but is never listened to In fact, she is treated like the barbarian that she is Clytaemnestra and Penelope are two contrasting women in Greek mythology Penelope is seen as the epitome of female honour however Clytaemnestra is portrayed as the complete opposite Penelope waits patiently for her husband to return, and uses every trick that she can think of to outwit the suitors who are eating her out of house and home Throughout all that time she rebukes the advances of all of the man that come, and also resists the social pressure that she is under to remarry Clytaemenstra is the opposite as she is a very proud and hot headed individual who is seeking revenge against her husband She takes a lover, and then lays a trap for her husband for when she returns The play concludes with the idea that Argos has now become a tyranny This is odd because it never was anything other than a tyranny Agamemnon is actually not a very nice guy The best portrayal of him would have been in the movie Troy, where he is portrayed as a vicious imperialist who is looking for any excuse to expand his power We don t see that here, but rather see a man who has returned from ten years of war to find his house not only in shambles but also turned against him In a way, this play is another example of returning from war and the difficulties of returning to one s previous life I suspect that there are a lot of soldiers out there that could sympathise with the plight of Agamemnon, though these days, with much better communication systems, the breakdown of the family unit due to war is evident much sooner, but happens all too often.
It s interesting how the Chorus used to enjoy a elaborate function in Aeschylus than in the later Sophocles Not really a passive, detached omniscient narrator here the Chorus takes on the characters head on, getting involved in the action of the play Which was slightly hilarious during the row with Aegisthus but never mind P I began with George C W Warr s translation Astoundingly thorough, amazing illustrations, meticulously explained notes, but too challenging for the beginner The most annoying bit was that the commentaries are sandwiched between the actual translation which ruins the reading experience Would actually be great for the scholar but does nothing for the beginner.
Moved on to the much recommended Fagles translation but found it a bit too droll after Warr s version Very easy but very prosaic.
Finally came across Morshead s version which strikes a perfect balance between the above mentioned translations The rhyming thing gets annoying but it s readable and you get through.
Began Aeschylus as complementary reading to O Neill s Mourning Becomes Electra One gets confounded in the abundance of translations that not really sure I d be continuing with this trilogy anytime soon One shouldn t be so ridiculously ambitious, anyway P I have not read a lot of Greek plays so it took me awhile to understand what was happening I should have read the introduction first, which would have made events clearer.
However, I m also glad I didn t because it allowed me to arrive at my own conclusions.
For those of you who don t know, Agamemnon was Commander in Chief of the Greeks who fought at Troy He sacrifices his daughter to appease Artemis This play is one of vengeance and also intrigue.
Agamemnon comes home with Cassandra, his prize by lot Cassandra is a prophetess who has been doomed by Apollo for refusing him Therefore, she prophesies but is not believed.
In this play she prophecies her own doom and also Agamemnon s.
I won t tell because some readers might not know the story as I didn t so found the development contained a couple of surprising twists.
But what one really enjoys in reading Greek plays is the form I found that very interesting.
The dialogue carried on back and forth between a person speaking a monologue and the chorus Soloist, Chorus, Soloist, Chorus.
This is very much how classical concerto form is structured As a musician I recognized this Look at Handel s Messiah Every chorus is preceded by a soloist Or a piano or violin concerto, it is the same form The same is true for Opera.
Even in a Mozart Piano Sonata the melodic line starts with a soloist , then a chorus.
So my greatest interest in this play was the form so than the substance, since the storyline was quite simple and also told in the Odyssey.
If you don t already know the story there are some unexpected twists.
Man must suffer to be wise Treating Ancient Plays As Living Drama Classical Greek Drama Is Brought Vividly To Life In This Series Of New Translations Students Are Encouraged To Engage With The Text Through Detailed Commentaries, Including Suggestions For Discussion And Analysis In Addition, Numerous Practical Questions Stimulate Ideas On Staging And Encourage Students To Explore The Play S Dramatic Qualities Agamemnon Is Suitable For Students Of Both Classical Civilisation And Drama Useful Features Include Full Synopsis Of The Play, Commentary Alongside Translation For Easy Reference And A Comprehensive Introduction To The Greek Theatre Agamemnon Is Aimed Primarily At A Level And Undergraduate Students In The UK, And College Students In North America