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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #7

(Cassandra): "This two-footed lioness, bedding with the wolf in the absence of the noble lion, will kill me, wretch that I am; and as if preparing a drug she will put in the drink a wage paid for myself as well. As she whets her sword for the man, she boasts he will pay in blood for bringing me here." (1258-1263)

What does Cassandra mean when she says that Clytemnestra will "put in the drink a wage paid for myself as well"? The drink part seems pretty clear; the idea is that Cassandra's violent fate something she'll have to swallow (this is similar to English expressions like, "you've just got to stomach it," etc.). But what about the "wages" part? Typically, you earn "wages" in return for something you do. If so, we're dealing with some form of revenge here: Cassandra is going to be killed in return for something she did. But what did Cassandra ever do to Clytemnestra?

Quote #8

(Cassandra): "My cry of distress is not like a bird's at a thicket, from alarm to no purpose: bear me witness that, once I am dead, when woman dies in place of woman, in place of me, and man with evil wife falls in place of man. I claim this from you as a stranger here, now I am to die."
(Chorus): "Poor wretch, I pity you the fate you predict."
(Cassandra): "There is one speech more I wish to make – or my own dirge: I pray to my last daylight from the sun, that my master's avengers requite my murder too on our enemies; mine is a slave's death, an easy victory." (1316-1326)

When Cassandra refers to how "woman dies in place of woman," does this shed any light on the quotation just before this one? In any case, it is clear that Cassandra thinks (correctly) that Clytemnestra is out for revenge. Cassandra also predicts that someone will come to kill Clytemnestra. Cassandra suggests that whoever does this will mainly be out to avenge Agamemnon ("my master"); she prays that this person will also avenge her own death.

Quote #9

(Clytemnestra): "You say confidently, this deed is mine;
but you are not to reckon in that I am Agamemnon's mate:
taking the semblance of this dead man's wife,
the ancient bitter demon of revenge
upon Atreus the cruel banqueter
has made this man the price, a full-grown sacrifice made over the young ones." (1497-1504)

Here, Clytemnestra argues that she wasn't the one who killed Agamemnon, but rather a spirit of vengeance which was out to get him in return for the crime of his father, Atreus. But can Clytemnestra really be telling the truth here? First of all, she makes it quite clear elsewhere that she was really mad at Agamemnon for sacrificing their daughter Iphigenia. (No surprises here.) Also, she knows (though the Chorus doesn't yet) that she was in cahoots with her lover, Aegisthus, the surviving son of Thyestes. When she refers to that "ancient bitter demon of revenge," couldn't that just be a sneaky way of referring to Aegisthus's revenge against Agamemnon? If so, it starts to look like her talk about divine spirits of revenge isn't just covering her own heinie, but Aegisthus's as well.

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