Study Guide

Atreus and Thyestes Atreus

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We at Shmoop do our best to be as non-judgmental as possible, but it really is kind of hard to find anything redeemable about Atreus. At a young age, he kills his stepbrother, Chrysippus, with the help of his brother, Thyestes. Most people would probably agree that murdering your stepbrother is a pretty awful thing to do, but Atreus actually manages to top himself in terms of awful deeds. When Atreus kills Thyestes' sons, cooks them, and serves them to their unknowing father for dinner, Atreus may just win the award for most thoroughly messed up dude ever. It's sort of hard to imagine a worse thing anybody could possibly do.

Okay, sure, Atreus was provoked into his awful deed. Thyestes did sleep with Atreus's wife, steal his golden fleece, and try to steal the throne of Mycenae. However, we're guessing we're not the only ones who see Atreus' reaction as more than a wee bit excessive. Like, what did the kids ever do to deserve being chopped up and eaten? Later on, Atreus tries to get the final revenge by having Thyestes' son, Aegisthus, murder him. This plan backfires, however, when Aegisthus figures out that Thyestes is his father. In the end, Atreus gets what's coming to him when Aegisthus makes shish-kebabs of his uncle's guts.

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