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by Aeschylus

Agamemnon Memory and The Past Quotes

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

Quote #10

(Aegisthus): "Atreus his father, the ruler of this land, when his power was disputed, banished my father Thyestes, his own brother – this is a true account – from city and home. By returning as suppliant to the hearth the wretched Thyestes found for himself security against being killed and bringing blood upon his ancestral soil himself; but for this hospitality this man's godless father Atreus, eager rather than amicable towards my father, while cheerfully seeming to celebrate a day for butchered meat, provided him with a feast from his children's flesh. He broke up small the feet and the combs of fingers; and Thyestes, seated separately at a distance, at once takes the unrecognizable parts and eats them in ignorance, an ugly meal which ended the safety, as you see, for Atreus' line." (1583-1597)

Speak of the devil and the devil appears: compare this speech by Atreus with the previous quotation, the vision of Cassandra. Aegisthus indicates that the desire for revenge can involve an inability to forget the past. A person who wants revenge paradoxically both lives in the past and seeks to make the past present, by turning a deed back on its original doer. The irony in Aegisthus's case, of course, is that the person he really should get revenge on – Atreus – is dead. Strictly speaking, Agamemnon didn't have anything to do with the murder of Aegisthus's siblings.

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