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by Aeschylus

Agamemnon Gender Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used Christopher Collard's translation.

Quote #4

(Clytemnestra): "Men of the city, senior Argives here present, I shall have no qualms in telling you how I love my husband; a person's timidity dies away in time. I have learned from others, I shall tell my own life's hardship all the while this man was under Ilion's wall. The first thing: for a wife to be separated from her husband, and to sit at home alone, is a terrible misery, when she hears many malicious rumours, with one man coming and then another with his cries bringing worse pain on top of pain for the house." (855-865)

Here, once again, Clytemnestra portrays herself in terms of stereotypical femininity, sitting on pins and needles for any word of her husband while he is away on campaign. What does Clytemnestra's use of this traditional gender imagery say about her character?

Quote #5

(Cassandra): "Apollo god of seers set me in this office."
(Chorus): "Smitten with desire for you, I fear you mean, although he is a god?"
(Cassandra): "Before now, I was ashamed to speak of this."
(Chorus): "Everyone shows greater delicacy while in prosperity."
(Cassandra): "But Apollo quite wrestled with me while breathing his favours."
(Chorus): "And did the two of you duly come to making a child?"
(Cassandra): "Though I had consented to Loxias, I cheated him." (1202-1208)

What do you think Cassandra means when she says she "cheated" Loxias (a.k.a. Apollo) at the end of this passage? To what extent does Cassandra fit into or fail to fit into the more stereotypical images of women advanced in the play, such as by the Chorus?

Quote #6

(Cassandra): "The ships' commander and overturner of Troy will meet with underhanded destruction, through evil fortune; he does not know the kind of bite behind the hateful bitch's tongue when it brightly laid back its ears and licked. Such is the male's female murderer in her audacity. What loathsome monster should I be accurate in calling her – an amphisbaena, or a Scylla living in the rocks, destruction for sailors, a hellish mother raging and breathing war without truce on her dearest? How she cried in triumph, in her total audacity, just as at a battle's turn! Yet she appears to rejoice at the safe homecoming." (1227-1238)

Here, Cassandra seems to put a lot of emphasis on the fact that Agamemnon's murderer will be female, as well as on his murderer's deceitfulness. Do you think this is just a coincidence, or is Cassandra herself playing into cultural stereotypes of women as untrustworthy?

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