Study Guide

Atreus and Thyestes Violence

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To say that the myth of Atreus and Thyestes is horrifically, awfully, terribly violent would be an understatement. Let's see, you've got suicide, forced incest, the brutal murder of children, and those children being fed to their own father. Yeah, that's about as violent as it gets. The grisly, no-holds-barred feud between Atreus and Thyestes makes every other tale of sibling rivalry look like a kid's story. Ultimately, it seems this blood-spattered tale is out to warn us all about just how out of control things can get when we let the destructive sides of our nature take over.

Questions About Violence

  1. What would you consider to be the most violent action in the story? Why do you think so?
  2. Do you think Atreus or Thyestes is more violent? Explain your answer.
  3. What is the reason for all the violence in the tale?
  4. Are any of the violent actions in the story justified? Why, or why not?
  5. Is violence ever a good thing? Explain your answer.

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