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Agamemnon

Agamemnon

by Aeschylus

Nets

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Probably the most famous symbol in Agamemnon is that of the "net." This image appears at numerous points in the text, most memorably when Clytemnestra appears outside the palace at the end of the play, standing over the dead bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra; there, she boasts about how (in Collard's translation), "A net with no way through, just as for fish, I stake out round him, an evil wealth of clothing" (1382-1383). But similar images appear throughout the play, such as when the Chorus says to the dead Agamemnon, "You lie in this spider's web breathing out your life in a death which is impious" (1492-1493), or even in the famous image of the purple fabrics that Clytemnestra bullies Agamemnon into trampling on as he walks into the palace. Taken together, these images of nets, spider webs, and entangling clothing create a common image of Agamemnon's death inexorably closing in on him. Could this also be an image of the inescapable power of fate? That would depend on how you interpret the play's treatment of the theme of "Fate and Free Will," and we're not going to spoil your fun.

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