Study Guide

Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and Iphigenia

Introduction

This story is like a mash-up between a soap opera and a really grisly horror movie. (Uh, awesome.) First, you've got some seriously twisted family drama full of totally bizarre plot twists, and then all of it's doused in enough blood to drown a mule (as Grandma Shmoop used to say). If somebody had just come up with this story today, people might say they were depraved.

Don't believe it's as hardcore as we say? Well, the basic gist of the story is that a father (Agamemnon) sacrifices his daughter (Iphigenia). Not sacrifice like metaphorically, either. Like he literally puts her on an altar, kills her with a knife, and sets her on fire. To pay him back, his wife (Clytemnestra) then chops him up with an ax while he's taking a bath.

We are not making this up! That's what it's really about. Of course, we'd be selling it short if we made it out to just be some melodramatic slasher. It's also one of the most complex meditations on the cycles of human violence ever written. Like ever. So, there you go. Check. It. Out.

Best of the Web

Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and Iphigenia Resources

Movie or TV Productions

Iphigenia
Poor Iphigenia must face bloody sacrifice in this movie based on Iphigenia at Aulis by Euripides.

Helen of Troy
Agamemnon and Clytemnestra make appearances in this TV mini series about Clytemnestra's beautiful sister.

Troy
Achilles gives bossy Agamemnon tons of trouble while they're fighting the Trojan War in this Hollywood blockbuster.

Videogames

Castle Age
Agamemnon looks like a total warrior rock star in the Castle Age video game.

Videos

Agamemnon Sings!
This video may be the real reason Clytemnestra decided to off her husband.

Was Agamemnon a Real Dude?
The old Greek professor guy in this video seems to think so.

Audio

Metamorphoses for Your Lobes
You can listen to all of Ovid's Metamorphoses here, including the part about the sacrifice of poor little Iphigenia.

Is that Murder I Hear?
If you're dying to hear the play where Agamemnon gets whacked, click here.

Books

Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides
In this tragedy, Agamemnon has to decide whether or not to sacrifice Iphigenia. (Um, wouldn't the obvious answer be, "NOOOOOOO!"?)

The Iliad by Homer
Agamemnon is leader of the Greek forces in this definitive poem about the Trojan War. (Agamemnon kicks some butt, but mostly he's kind of a jerk all the way through.)

Agamemnon by Aeschylus
In part one of the Oresteia, Agamemnon makes it home from the war, but gets murdered in a bathtub by Clytemnestra. (A bathtub, huh? Well, all least the cleanup was easy.)