Aeschylus treatment of the theme of hereditary guilt in Agamemnon


Folks, A lot of students have asked me to discuss about the hereditary guilt in Agamemnon. So i am going to discuss about the hereditary guilt in Agamemnon. Hope you will enjoy my writings.

One of the best Greek tragedy named Agamemnon that was first performed in Athens in 458 BC, basically deals with one of the dark stories of hereditary guilt. The ancient Greece gods required humankind to pay for its sins deeply. Sons and daughters of sinners could inherit the sins of their parents just as the descendants of Adam and Eve were destined to inherits original Sin in Christian theology.

Read More: Role of gods and goddesses in Iliad

The play Agamemnon based on a background history that deals with hereditary guilt are hereditary curse. The curse bought on by crime and crime breeds crime. The sin of Atreus of Thyestes upon Atreus family had been determined the curse of life of Agamemnon. Again, the sacrifice of Agamemnon about his daughter out of superstitious belief through curse sin, retribution and revenge.

Curse on the house of atreus in agamemnon

The curse on the house of Atreus in Agamemnon has been focused in the following ways.

The hereditary guilt in Agamemnon began with Tantalus whose name is preserved in English word ‘tantalize’ which describes the punishment, he suffered in underworld. Tantalus served his son Pelps as a metal to the gods to test their omniscience. Demeter alone failed the test. So and so when Pelops was restored to life, he had to make do with an ivory shoulder. Pelops married Hippodamia, the daughter of Oenomaus, king of Pisa. They had two sons, Thyestes  and Atreus who murdered an illegitimate son of Pelops to prease their mother. Then they went to exile in Mysceae. Thyestes seduced Atreus’ wife, Aerope. So, Thyestes went into exile again.

At last, believing himself forgiven he returned and ate the meal to which his brother had invited him. Atreus became very angry for the heinous work of Thyestes and resolved to punish him (Thyestes) . He secretly murdered Thyestes two sons and served their flesh of Thyestes at a banquet. He became aware the secret and cursed. Atreus wishing the destruction of Atreus generation. Thyestes along with his only alive son Aegisthus went into exile.

After the death of Atreus, his eldest son Agamemnon inherited the throne of Argos. Along with it, the curse of Thyetes had settled on the family. Later his brother Menelaus became the king of Sparta in Succession to his father-in-law Tyndoros. Tyndoreos wife, in an incest with Zeus, gave birth to twin daughter, Helen, for her extraordinary beauty was attracted by innumerable suitors. Menelaus married Helen. On the other hand Agamemnon married Clytemnestra.

The king of Troy named Priam sent his youngest son, Paris, as an ambassador to Sparta. There Paris was entertained by Helen and Menelaus. In the absence of Menelaus, Paris made sexual relationship with Helen and kidnapped her. When Menelaus returned, he made on appeal to pursue Helen to Troy. Agamemnon was made commander-in-chief of the vast army.

When everything was ready for the start at the shore of Aegean Sea, the wind changed. Agamemnon had to slaughter his virgin daughter Iphigenia to satisfy the virgin goddess Artemis. This made Clytemnestra revengeful. Clytemnestra wanted a revenge upon Agamemnon. So, in order to take revenge upon Agamemnon, Clytemnestra made an incest relation with Aegistus who was the son of Thyestes, in absence of Agamemnon. Besides, Agamemnon brought a Trojan princes named Cassandra as his mistress whom Clytemnestra of course disliked. At last Agamemnon as killed by Clytemnestra.

Read More: The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neil

On the other hand Menelaus could not returned home for his fleet was scourged by the storm Agamemnon is neither a man of unblemished goodness nor is he an unmitigated Villain. Agamemnon is a victim of the curse of Thyestes which has been hereding out all the members of the house of Atreus.

The tragic play Agamemnon does not get a perfect shame without the hereditary guilt or curse The hereditary curse is much responsible for the hero’s doom as his own sin. It also would have lost much of its human significance without this hereditary guilt.

It is very clear to us that Agamemnon is the victim of hereditary guilt or curse. It is a tragedy of curse and revenge Aeschylus showed his skill successfully in Agamemnon and made it an ever lasting piece of great for its subject matter. Concept of guilt and sin in Agamemnon is really vivid and authentic.

For your better understanding about the hereditary guilt in Agamemnon , you may watch the following video:

What do you think?

Read More Literary Writings:

WH Auden the shield of Achilles Critical Analysis

Critical Discussion On the poem Ode To A Nightingale

Character of satan in paradise lost book 1 | Satan as a renaissance hero in paradise lost

To His Coy Mistress Analysis And Summary By Andrew Marvell

Somebody Once Told Me The World Was Macaroni Lyrics

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock represents conflict of modern man

Robert Browning as a writer of dramatic monologue

Tennyson as a representative poet of his age or Victorian Period