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by Aeschylus

Agamemnon Wisdom and Knowledge Quotes

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

Quote #13

(Chorus): "Which man is to bring this evil thing about?"
(Cassandra): "You have indeed been thrown a long way off the course my oracles are running!"
(Chorus): "I did not understand the contrivance the accomplisher will use."
(Cassandra): "And yet I understand the Greek language only too well."
(Chorus): "So do the Pythian decrees, but they are still hard to understand." (1251-1255)

Like so much else in the play, many of the communication problems in this exchange boil down to the issue of pathei mathos. Because of their past experience (and, we would probably say today, cultural stereotypes), the Chorus assumes that whoever kills Agamemnon will be a man. Cassandra, however, points out that they're going off-course. Then, Cassandra throws in a little jab at them, basically saying, "What's the big deal; you can't understand what I'm saying? At least I'm speaking your language! Don't take that for granted; I was born in Troy, you know." This is pretty funny on Cassandra's part, but then the Chorus actually makes a really good point: oracles (the phrase "Pythian decrees" refers to the words of the oracle of Delphi) speak in Greek too, but they still have to be interpreted. Based on the other quotations in this section, what do you think the need to interpret oracles says about the issues of language, communication, and the human capacity to learn?

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