Agamemnon Justice and Judgment Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used Christopher Collard's translation.
(Clytemnestra): "I think, neither was this man's death ignoble,
[a line missing]
for did he not also bring ruin on the house through treachery?
Yes, my child by him which I raised,
the much lamented Iphigenia,
[her father sacrificed].
What his actions deserved he deservedly suffers;
so let him make no great boast in Hades,
now that he has paid for just that deed, felled in death by the sword." (1521-1530)
Although the manuscripts have left this part of the play with some piecing missing, we can still get the general idea of what Clytemnestra is saying. Basically, she is saying that Agamemnon got what he deserved. She also uses a similar logic to that of the Chorus in the previous quotation: you should suffer the same thing that you did to someone else; thus, Agamemnon killed Iphigenia, so Agamemnon should be killed.
(Aegisthus): "O kindly day, bringing justice with its light! Now at last I would say that the gods keep watch from above upon earth's evil deeds, as avengers of mankind, when I see this man lying here in the woven robes of the Furies; as I dearly wanted, he pays in full for what his father's hand contrived." (1577-1582)
You might want to compare these words of Aegisthus with those of the Chorus in lines 367-372. In both cases, they view the suffering of evil-doers as proof that the gods intervene in human life to protect justice.
(Aegisthus): "That, I tell you, is the cause of the man's fall you see here; and I had the right in justice to scheme this killing. I was the third child after ten others; while I was tiny, in my swaddling, Atreus expelled me together with my hapless father; and when I was grown up, Justice brought me back again. I laid my hands on this man from outside, fitting together every device of ill intent. So even death is well for me too, now I have seen this man in Justice's toils." (1603-1611)
Here, Aegisthus continues with the idea that Agamemnon got what was coming to him, and that this was an instance of justice – indeed, that it was "Justice" (i.e., the goddess who personifies it) who brought him back to Argos. But isn't it a little weird to call it justice and also say that "I laid my hands on this man from outside, fitting together every device of ill intent"? Is this just some sort of cultural difference between us and the Greeks? We know, that's way too big a question to answer right now, but it's good to start thinking about it. On a more basic level, does what Aegisthus says fit in with the picture of justice that we get from the rest of the play?