Study Guide

Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and Iphigenia Betrayal

Betrayal

Yeah, there's no getting around the fact that this myth is chock full of some pretty serious betrayals. First, there's Agamemnon who betrays his daughter, Iphigenia, by offering her up as a sacrifice to Artemis so that he can go off and fight the Trojan War. Not only is this a betrayal of Iphigenia, it's also a major stab in the back to his wife, Clytemnestra. We can't think of many worse things one parent could do to another than kill a child they created together.

Clytemnestra answers Agamemnon's betrayal with some of her own. While the king is off at war, she starts sleeping with his cousin, Aegisthus. (Ouch. Also, ew.) When he gets back, she seals the deal by stabbing her hubby to death. (Ouch again!) No doubt about it, these people do some serious backstabbing. Well, in Clytemnestra's case, she does some heart-stabbing, some chest-stabbing, some face-stabbing and whatever other creative kind of stabbing you can think of.

Questions About Betrayal

  1. What do you think is the worst betrayal in this myth? Explain your answer.
  2. How would this story be different if all instances of betrayal were removed?
  3. Is Clytemnestra's murder of Agamemnon really betrayal, or a kind of brutal justice? Why do you think so?
  4. If Agamemnon had chosen not to sacrifice Iphigenia, would that have been a betrayal of his army? Why, or why not?
  5. What other characters might be guilty of betrayal in the story?