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.