Aeschylus, Agamemnon. GUARD. The gods relieve my watch: that's all I ask. Year-long I've haunched here on this palace roof, year-long been the all-fours. Adobe PDF formatting by James M. Esch CASSANDRA, daughter of Priam, and slave of AGAMEMNON. University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. The Oresteia of Aeschylus: Agamemnon by Robin Bond (Trans) is licensed under a. Creative Commons.

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Clytemnestra, wife of Agamemnon A Herald Agamemnon, King of Argos Cassandra, daughter of Priam, and slave of Agamemnon Aegisthus. AGAMEMNON THE AGAMEMNON OF AESCHYLUS TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH Rg^MtNG VERSE WITH EXPLANATORY NOTES BY GILBERT MURRAY. Free PDF, epub, site ebook. Agamemnon tells the story of the homecoming of Agamemnon, King of Argos, from the Trojan War. Waiting at home for him is his.

Helen is the central cause of the Trojan War, since the Trojan prince ruthlessly kidnapped her from Menelaus' palace in Sparta when he was visiting there as an honored guest. Considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world, she was promised to Paris by Aphrodite after he judged her to be the winner in a beauty contest. The Chorus blames her for the deaths of so many young men who are fighting because of her.

After Troy is conquered and Paris killed, Helen is apparently lost at sea with Menelaus after his ship is destroyed in a storm. His wife, Helen, was kidnapped by the Trojan Paris while a guest at his palace.

Menelaus asks Agamemnon to assemble a Greek army to rescue her from Troy. After the war is ended, Menelaus' ship sinks during a storm, and nobody knows where he is, much to the disappointment of the Chorus of Elders in Argos.

Paris: Son of Priam, King of Troy. Paris was chosen to be the judge in a beauty contest between the goddesses Aphrodite, Athena, and Zeus' wife Hera, and declares Aphrodite to be the winner. As a reward, she promises him that the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen, will be his wife, regardless of the fact that she was already married.

Paris kidnaps Helen from Menelaus, sparking the Trojan War. He does not live to see its end, slain in the ninth year by a Greek named Pyrrhus. Iphigenia: Eldest daughter of Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra from Argos. In order for the Greek fleet to sail away to Troy, Agamemnon sacrifices Iphigenia to the goddess Artemis, much to his wife's utter disgust and total outrage.

He had lured her to the place of sacrifice, called Aulis, by telling his wife that Iphigenia was going to be married to the Greek warrior Achilles. Clytaemnestra uses similar deceptions to murder her husband ten years later in order to avenge her beloved daughter's death.

Watchman: A man who watches for a fire signaling that Troy has fallen. After the Watchman sees the fire at last after ten years, he expresses great joy but is also concerned about what will happen when Agamemnon returns at long last. Chorus of Elders: A group of old men from Argos. The Chorus is a passive observer to much of the action, refusing to get directly involved in either aiding Agamemnon when warned by Cassandra that Clytaemnestra plans to murder her and Agamemnon.

Nor does it make any effort to stop Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus after they emerge from the palace, bragging about the murders.

Instead, the Chorus is very passive and complains about everything, without trying to do anything about it. Atreus: Son of Pelops; father of Agamemnon and Menelaus.

His grandfather, Tantalus started the curse of Atreus by cooking Pelops and serving him to the gods. Pelops was resurrected by Zeus, however, and fathered the two sons Atreus and Thyestes. Atreus, in a struggle for power with his brother, and angry after Thyestes made love to his wife, cooked Thyestes' children and fed them to him at a banquet.


This shedding of kindred blood continued the curse of Atreus, followed later by the death of Iphigenia and of Agamemnon himself. Artemis: Greek goddess of hunting; sister of Apollo.

Artemis refused to give the Greek ships good winds so that they could sail to Troy because the Greeks had slain a wild rabbit, a creature which she loved. Thus, Agamemnon was required to sacrifice his eldest daughter Iphigenia at Aulis to appease her anger. After this, Artemis gave the Greeks calm winds to sail to Troy.

Calchas: Prophet of Apollo. Calchas often relays what the gods want the Greeks to do before and during the Trojan War. He informs Agamemnon that Iphigenia must be sacrificed in order to appease Artemis. Apollo: Greek god of prophesy, music, and light; brother of Artemis. The Chorus of Elders prays that Apollo will protect them from his sister Artemis. Later, Cassandra appeals to Apollo for help against Clytaemnestra, although he has cursed her because she rejected his love, and as such he does not offer any assistance at all.

Zeus: Greek god of the heavens; king of all the gods. Many people show respect towards Zeus, including the Chorus of Elders, thanking Zeus for returning Agamemnon safely home, and Agamemnon himself thanks Zeus for giving the Greeks victory.

Clytaemnestra asks Zeus to help her in murdering her husband, declaring 'Zeus, Zeus On the roof of the palace can be discerned a Watchman. Thus upon mine unrestful couch I lie, Bathed with the dews of night, unvisited By dreams — ah me! All hail! A beacon-light is seen reddening the distant sky. Fire of the night, that brings my spirit day, Shedding on Argos light, and dance, and song, Greetings to fortune, hail! Had it voice, The home itself might soothliest tell its tale; I, of set will, speak words the wise may learn, To others, nought remember nor discern.

He withdraws. The Chorus of Argive Elders enters, each leaning on a staff. During their song Clytemnestra appears in the background, kindling the altars.

And we in grey dishonoured eld, Feeble of frame, unfit were held To join the warrior array That then went forth unto the fray: And here at home we tarry, fain Our feeble footsteps to sustain, Each on his staff — so strength doth wane, And turns to childishness again. For while the sap of youth is green, And, yet unripened, leaps within, The young are weakly as the old, And each alike unmeet to hold The vantage post of war! And ah! But thou, O child of Tyndareus, Queen Clytemnestra, speak!

That waneth now unto despair — Now, waxing to a presage fair, Dawns, from the altar, to scare From our rent hearts the vulture Care. How brother kings, twin lords of one command, Led forth the youth of Hellas in their flower, Urged on their way, with vengeful spear and brand, By warrior-birds, that watched the parting hour. Ah woe and well-a-day!

Agamemnon by Aeschylus

For virgin Artemis bears jealous hate Against the royal house, the eagle-pair, Who rend the unborn brood, insatiate — Yea, loathes their banquet on the quivering hare.

So to the Lord of Heaven she prayeth still, "Nay, if it must be, be the omen true!

Yet do the visioned eagles presage ill; The end be well, but crossed with evil too! She craves, alas! At home there tarries like a lurking snake, Biding its time, a wrath unreconciled, A wily watcher, passionate to slake, In blood, resentment for a murdered child.

In strains like his, once more, Sing woe and well-a-day! But when, for bitter storm, a deadlier relief, And heavier with ill to either chief, Pleading the ire of Artemis, the seer avowed, The two Atreidae smote their sceptres on the plain, And, striving hard, could not their tears restrain!

Fore-knowledge is fore-sorrow. They turn to Clytemnestra, who leaves the altars and comes forward. Clytemnestra As saith the adage, From the womb of Night Spring forth, with promise fair, the young child Light. Clytemnestra Hear then again, and plainly — Troy is ours! Leader But hast thou proof, to make assurance sure?

Clytemnestra Go to; I have — unless the god has lied. Leader Hath some night-vision won thee to belief? Clytemnestra Peace — thou dost chide me as a credulous girl.

Leader Say then, how long ago the city fell? Clytemnestra Even in this night that now brings forth the dawn. Leader Yet who so swift could speed the message here? So sped from stage to stage, fulfilled in turn, Flame after flame, along the course ordained, And lo! Leader To heaven, O queen, will I upraise new song: But, wouldst thou speak once more, I fain would hear From first to last the marvel of the tale. Clytemnestra Think you — this very morn — the Greeks in Troy, And loud therein the voice of utter wail!

Within one cup pour vinegar and oil, And look!

And lo! Yea, let no craving for forbidden gain Bid conquerors yield before the darts of greed. For we need yet, before the race be won, Homewards, unharmed, to round the course once more. Clytemnestra goes into the palace. Chorus singing Zeus, Lord of heaven!

At Alexander, long ago, We marked thee bend thy vengeful bow, But long and warily withhold The eager shaft, which, uncontrolled And loosed too soon or launched too high, Had wandered bloodless through the sky.

One said of old, The gods list not to hold A reckoning with him whose feet oppress The grace of holiness — An impious word!

On me let weal that brings no woe be sent, And therewithal, content! Who spurns the shrine of Right, nor wealth nor power Shall be to him a tower, To guard him from the gulf: there lies his lot, Where all things are forgot. As an ill coin beneath the wearing touch Betrays by stain and smutch Its metal false — such is the sinful wight. Before, on pinions light, Fair Pleasure flits, and lures him childlike on, While home and kin make moan Beneath the grinding burden of his crime; Till, in the end of time, Cast down of heaven, he pours forth fruitless prayer To powers that will not hear.

Woe for the home, the home! Woe for the bride-bed, warm Yet from the lovely limbs, the impress of the form Of her who loved her lord, awhile ago And woe! And sad with many memories, The fair cold beauty of each sculptured face — And all to hatefulness is turned their grace, Seen blankly by forlorn and hungering eyes! Such are the sights, the sorrows fell, About our hearth — and worse, whereof I may not tell.

Questions for Study

For, truth to say, The touch of bitter death is manifold! Familiar was each face, and dear as life, That went unto the war, But thither, whence a warrior went of old, Doth nought return — Only a spear and sword, and ashes in an urn! Our chief is gone, the hero of the spear, And hath not left his peer! Ah woe! Or haply do they give for truth Some cheat which heaven doth frame?His grumbles at his insufficient rood were a theme of comedy. Whence starting, beacon after beacon burst In flaming message hitherward.

Thus, the sacrifice of Iphigeneia is what society expects of Agamemnon. Oh, could I tell the sick toil of the day, The evil nights, scant decks ill-blanketed ; The rage and cursing when our daily bread Came not! A babe could read thee plain. An endless web, as by some fisher strung, A deadly plenteousness of robe, I flung All round him, and struck twice ; and with two cries His limbs turned water and broke ; and as he lies I cast my third stroke in, a prayer well-sped To Zeus of Hell, who guardeth safe his dead!

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