Study Guide

Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and Iphigenia Context

Context

The messed up family of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra was legendary even in ancient times. If even half of this crazy stuff actually happened, it's no wonder people were still talking about it hundreds of years later. Some of the earliest written accounts come from Homer's IliadĀ and Odyssey. Probably the most famous, though, come from the plays of Aeschylus, whose Oresteia trilogy begins with the tragedy, Agamemnon, in which Clytemnestra offs her hubby. The sacrifice of Iphigenia by her dear old dad is also the subject of a play that's stood the test of time:
Iphigenia at Aulis
by Euripides. Ovid also puts his spin on this tale in his famous collection of myth-y poems, the Metamorphoses.

Over the years, tons of playwrights have been inspired to re-imagine the story of Iphigenia's sacrifice. Big names like Racine, Goethe, Gluck, and contemporary experimental writers like Charles Mee have all taken a shot at it. The tale of Agamemnon's murder and the rest of the Oresteia have also been remixed by modern playwrights like Eugene O'Neill, whose Mourning Becomes Electra places the whole trilogy in post Civil War New England. The trilogy has also been the inspiration for various movies and TV mini-series over the years.