Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #1

(Watchman): "Whenever I find myself shifting my bed about at night, wet with dew, unvisited by dreams – because fear instead of sleep stands at my side to stop my eyes closing fast in slumber – and whenever I think to sing or to hum, dispensing this remedy from music against sleep, then I weep in lament for this house's misfortune; it is not managed for the best as it was before." (13-20)

This vivid image from the opening speech of the play introduces an image that will recur several times in the play: fear which prevents a person from sleeping. What do you think the Watchman is afraid of?

Quote #2

(Herald): "You say the land here is longing for the army which is longing for it too?"
(Chorus): "Enough for me to groan aloud often, from a gloomy heart."
(Herald): "What brought on this hateful despondency? Tell me."
(Chorus): "I have long had silence as my medicine against harm."
(Herald): "What? How is that? Were you in fear about any of the absent lords?
(Chorus): "So much that now, to use your own words, even death would be great happiness." (545-550)

There appears to be some sort of disconnect between the Herald and the Chorus here, like they are talking at cross-purposes. Does it really make sense for the Chorus to have kept "silence" as their "medicine against harm" because of "fear about any of the absent lords"? We can't think of any reason why this would be so. Some sort of fear is clearly making them shut up, but is that it? Wouldn't it be more reasonable to say that they are afraid of saying anything that might offend Clytemnestra? But, if so, why don't they say that now? Could it be that they are afraid of saying that they are afraid of Clytemnestra? We're not trying to confuse you on purpose; it's just clear that the Chorus is hiding something here, and we see no reason to stop until we've puzzled it out.

Quote #3

(Agamemnon): "Besides, do not pamper me in a woman's fashion; and do not give me gawping or obeisance crying from the ground as if I were some barbarian, or strew my way with vestments and open it to jealousy. It is the gods these things should magnify; as a mortal it is impossible for me to walk on beautiful embroideries without fear." (918-924)

In contrast to the fear of the Chorus in the previous section, Agamemnon's fear here has to do with something supernatural. He is afraid that, if he steps on the purple fabrics, the gods will think he is getting a big head and punish him accordingly.

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