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by Aeschylus

Agamemnon Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. A lot of characters in the play attribute the murder of Agamemnon to divine vengeance for the crime committed by his father, Atreus. Leaving aside what the Chorus and other characters say, do you think Aeschylus believes this, or is the spirit of vengeance just a metaphor for the human, non-supernatural anger of Aegisthus, who plots with Clytemnestra to murder Agamemnon?
  2. Assuming that Agamemnon's death really is brought about by divine will, because of the crime of his father Atreus, why does Menelaus get off scot free? If the crime of Atreus is inherited by his children, shouldn't Menelaus be just as guilty as Agamemnon? Does the fact that Menelaus remains unpunished cast any doubt on the divine vengeance theory held by various characters in the play?
  3. Did Agamemnon act freely when he chose to kill his daughter Iphigenia? If not, did he still deserve to be punished?
  4. Shortly before she dies, Cassandra says that she is being killed by the god Apollo. On a less supernatural level, she just seems to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whichever way you look at it, Cassandra seems pretty disconnected from the cycle of killings and revenges within Agamemnon's family that lies at the heart of the tragedy. If you accept this description, why do you think Aeschylus included Cassandra in the tragedy?
  5. Taken as a whole, does Aeschylus's Agamemnon portray Zeus and the other gods as just or unjust? Are they neither?

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