Term 3 - Lecture 1 - Oresteia (Agamemnon) Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Term 3 - Lecture 1 - Oresteia (Agamemnon) Deck (41):

What is the relationship between tragedy and democracy?

Oresteia was written by Athenians, for Athenians.

As democracy emerged in the late 6th century, tragedy also emerged.


What were the settings of tragedies?

Archaic settings. The time of the Trojan war and Heracles, but the stories were tailored to fit better with the current political situation


What tension does tragedy often highlight?

The tension between loyalty to the polis or to oikos


What is polis?

The larger community


What is oikos?

The family and household


What two texts highlight Agamemnon's homecoming?

The Odyssey and the Oresteia


Where would the Oresteia typically have been presented?

At the City Dionysia, all three plays in the trilogy would be played in the same day.


How many plays are part of the Oresteia?

Three - it is a tragic trilogy.


What contributes to the feeling of tragedy and doom in a tragic story?

The fact that the audience already knows the basic plot of the play. The interest lies in how the playwright chose to interpret the story.


What is the family tree of the house of Argos?

Tantalus has Pelops.

Pelops has 2 children, Thyestes and Atreus. Thyestes and Atreus fight for the throne.

Thyestes has 2 sons who are killed, and another son Aegisthus.

Atreus and Aerope have 2 children; Agamemnon and Menelaus


Who was Tantalus?


He was invited to dine with the gods. He stole their divine food (nectar and ambrosia), and fed his son Pelops to the gods.

He is punished in the underworld by being "tantalized" by food and water, just out of his reach.


What did Pelops do that got his family cursed?

He wanted to marry Hippodameia. He deceived and killed her father King Oinomaos in a chariot race.

As King Oinomaos died, he uttered a curse.


Who does Agamemnon take as a wife? Who does Menelaus take as a wife?

Clytemnestra and Helen of Sparta


Which god takes a bite of Pelop's shoulder?

Demeter - it is replaced with ivory


Who uttered the curse that cursed the family of Tantalus at Argos?

King Oinamaos, the father of Hippodameia


Who inherits the throne, Atreus or Thyestes?



What does Thyestes do in anger of Atreus winning the throne from him?

He sleeps with Atreus' wife Aerope.


How does Atreus react to finding out that Thyestes slept with his wife Aerope?

He is so angry, he pretends to reconcile with Thyestes by inviting him over. He boiled both of his sons in a stew and Thyestes ate it without knowing what he was eating.


Children of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra

Iphigeneia, Electra, Orestes


What are the 3 parts of the Oresteia?

1. Agamemnon
2. Libation Bearers
3. Eumenides


Who wrote the Oresteia?



In the Oresteia, does Iphigeneia die?

No, she has already been killed. The play just depicts the consequences of Agememnon sacrificing her.


Who make up the chorus in the Agamemnon?

The men who were too old to fight at Troy


How does Agamemnon in the Oresteia begin?

A watchman is on the roof of the palace of Argos, told to signal Clytemnestra when the fall of Troy can be seen. He goes and tells Clytemestra.


Where did the Greeks meet for the battle of Troy?

At Aulis


Clytemnestra saw two eagles in the sky. Where did she go to interpret this symbol?

She was to Calchas, the priest of Apollo, who interprets it as Menelaus and Agamemnon taking the city of Troy.


When Clytemnestra is told by Calchus that the Greeks are taking Troy, what does Artemis do?

She becomes offended, because she is the protector of wild animals (eagles). She makes Aeoleus the wind god prevent the Greeks from arriving at Aulis.


Who does Agamemnon need to appease before he can sail to Troy? How does he do this?

He has to appease Artemis by sacrificing his daughter Iphigeneia


When Artemis presents Agamemnon with the choice to sail from Aulis to Troy, does he choose oikos or polis?



In Euripides version of Agamemnon's sacrifice of Iphigeneia, what is different?

Agamemnon plays a trick on Clytemnestra. He says to send Iphigeneia on the ships so she can be married to Achilles.

She gets her all dressed up and everything, and Iphigeneia is sacrificed. She is a bride of death.


Does the chorus treat Clytemnestra like a girl or a boy?

Like a boy, they mock her for acting like a girl


Who was the messenger that brought Clytemnestra the news so quickly?

The god of Fire


What does Agamemnon bring home with him?

He brings Cassandra, and other spoils of war.


Where does Clytemnestra say their son Orestes is?

She says that she sent him away to live with an old friend


How does Clytemnestra make use of textiles?

She ays out the best, royal purple textile beneath Agamemnon when he enters to lead him into a "home unhoped for". Agamemnon thinks he should be honoured not as a god but as a mortal.

Clytemnestra insists.

Agamemnon demands proper care of Cassandra.


What story does Cassandra tell in the house of Agamemnon?

She tells the chorus her prediction. Apollo gave her the gift of prophecy but no one believes her.

She predicts that the House of Atreus will drop with blood. She prophesies that a woman-lioness who goes to bed with a wolf will inflict the harm.


How does Clytemnestra finally kill Agamemnon and Cassandra? Who does she claim to be acting in accordance with?

She wraps them in the purple textiles. She claims to be acting in accordance with Zeus' justice


Who does Clytemnestra take as a husband when Agamemnon is away at war?

Aegisthus. He is the son of Thyestes. His motivation is to get back at Agamemnon for his father's actions - killing his brothers.

Aegisthus is overjoyed when Clytemnestra kills Agamemnon


After Agamemnon has been killed by Clytemnestra, what does the chorus warn Aegisthus?

That if Orestes comes home, he will execute both him and Clytemnestra.

These words are dismissed as empty threats.


How does the Oresteia end?

With Clytemnestra saying to pay no heed to idle clamor, and that her and Aegisthus will direct the house well.


What are the three main themes of Agamemnon?

1. Oikos vs. polis (Agamemnon)
2. Gender conflict (Clytemnestra)
3. Private vs. public