Study Guide

Agamemnon Fear

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As you may have noticed, elsewhere in this guide, we refer to Agamemnon as the world's first horror movie. So it wouldn't make very much sense if "Fear" wasn't one of its major themes, would it? Fear in the play takes many forms; from the very beginning, in the speech of the Watchman, we get the sense that Clytemnestra's rulership in Argos has instilled a culture of fear in which people have to be very careful what they say. But this doesn't even come close to the horrifying visions of Cassandra, when her prophetic powers allow her to reveal that past crime of Atreus, and also predict her own and Agamemnon's imminent murder by Clytemnestra. The amazing thing is that Cassandra also shows us that fear can be conquered, as when she finally decides to go meet her death. Are there other moments in the play when characters are faced with a choice of confronting or surrendering to their fear? How might this relate to some of the play's other major themes?

Questions About Fear

  1. Who is the most fearful character in Agamemnon?
  2. In the play, do characters most often fear for themselves or on behalf of others?
  3. In their big debate scene, who is more fearful, Cassandra or the Chorus?
  4. To what degree does Aeschylus's play portray fear as inhibiting action?

Chew on This

On the whole, Aeschylus portrays fear for oneself as outweighing fear on behalf of others.

Cassandra is the only character in the play who successfully conquers her fear.

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