Agamemnon

Agamemnon Character Analysis

The king of Argos, and one of the commanders of the Greek fleet. At the start of the play, he is returning victorious from the Trojan War. Although he is a well-respected leader, he does not have strong resolve and can be convinced to act against his better judgment. Furthermore, not all of the citizens of Argos have supported his Trojan campaign. He is at times boastful and arrogant. Clytemnestra convinces Agamemnon to tread on the purple tapestries – an act of defiance to the Gods – and this misstep seals his grizzly fate.

Agamemnon Quotes in Agamemnon

The Agamemnon quotes below are all either spoken by Agamemnon or refer to Agamemnon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Revenge Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harvard University Press edition of Agamemnon published in 1926.
Lines 1-354 Quotes

But I hope

the master of this house may come home soon,
so I can grasp his welcome hand in mine.
As for all the rest, I’m saying nothing.
A great ox stands on my tongue. But this house,
if it could speak, might tell some stories.
I speak to those who know about these things.
For those who don’t, there’s nothing I remember.

Related Characters: The Watchman (speaker), Agamemnon
Page Number: 33-39
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 355-782 Quotes

The people’s voice, once angered,
can create dissent, ratifying a curse
which now must have its way.
And so, in my anxiety, I wait,
listening for something murky,
something emerging from the gloom.
For gods aren’t blind to men who kill.
In time, black agents of revenge,
the Furies, wear down and bring to nothing
the fortunes of a man who prospers
in unjust ways. They wear him out,
reverse his luck, and bring him at last
among the dead. There’s no remedy.
To boast too much of one’s success
is dangerous—the high mountain peak
is struck by Zeus’ lightning bolt.
I’d choose wealth no one could envy.
May I never be the sort of man
who puts whole cities to the sword.
Let me never see myself enslaved,
my life in someone else’s power.

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Agamemnon, The Furies, Zeus
Page Number: 455-475
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 783-1033 Quotes

Daughter of Leda, guardian of my home,
your speech was, like my absence, far too long.
Praise that’s due to us should come from others.
Then it’s worthwhile. All those things you said—
don’t puff me up with such female honours,
or grovel there before me babbling tributes,
like some barbarian. Don’t invite envy
to cross my path by strewing it with cloth.
That’s how we honour gods, not human beings.
For a mortal man to place his foot like this
on rich embroidery is, in my view,
not without some risk. So I’m telling you
honour me as a man, not as a god.
My fame proclaims itself. It does not need
foot mats made out of such embroideries.
Not even to think of doing something bad
is god’s greatest gift. When a man’s life ends
in great prosperity, only then can we declare
that he’s a happy man. Thus, if I act,
in every circumstance, as I ought to now,
there’s nothing I need fear.

Related Characters: Agamemnon (speaker), Clytemnestra
Related Symbols: The Purple Tapestries
Page Number: 915-930
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 1034-1330 Quotes

Up there on that roof there sits a chorus—
it never leaves. They sing in harmony,
but the song is harsh, predicting doom.
Drinking human blood has made them bold—
they dance in celebration through the house.
The family’s Furies cannot be dislodged.
Sitting in the home, they chant their song,
the madness that began all this, each in turn
cursing that man who defiled his brother’s bed.

Related Characters: Cassandra (speaker), Agamemnon, Atreus, Thyestes, The Furies
Page Number: 1185-1193
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

But we’ll not die without the gods’ revenge.
Another man will come and will avenge us,
a son who’ll kill his mother, then pay back
his father’s death, a wanderer in exile,
a man this country’s made a stranger.
He’ll come back and, like a coping stone,
bring the ruin of his family to a close.
For gods have made a powerful promise—
his father’s stretched out corpse will bring him home.

Related Characters: Cassandra (speaker), Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Orestes
Page Number: 1279-1287
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 1331-1675 Quotes

To rest unsatisfied amid great wealth
is in the nature of all human beings.
No one can point and order it away
from princely homes by uttering the words
“Dissatisfaction, enter here no more!”
Take Agamemnon. The powers in heaven
permitted him to capture Priam’s town,
to return home honoured by the gods.
But now, if he must pay the penalty
for blood which other men before him shed
and die in retribution for the dead
he killed himself, what mortal human being
who hears all this can boast he lives
a life unscarred by fate?

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Agamemnon, Priam
Page Number: 1331-1343
Explanation and Analysis:

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Before this moment I said many things
to suit my purposes. I’m not ashamed
to contradict them now. How else could I
act on my hate for such a hateful man,
who feigned his love, how else prepare my nets
of agony so high no one could jump them?
I’ve brooded on this struggle many years,
the old blood feud. My moment’s come at last,
though long delayed. I stand now where I struck,
where I achieved what I set out to do.
I did all this. I won’t deny the fact.

Related Characters: Clytemnestra (speaker), Agamemnon
Page Number: 1373-1380
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

CHORUS

O that some Fate would soon come,
free from suffering and quick,
bringing endless sleep,
our last eternal sleep,
now our gracious lord is dead.
For a woman’s sake
he suffered much, and now
by a woman’s hand he died.

Alas for you, Helen, frantic woman.
On your own, beneath Troy’s walls,
you slaughtered many lives,
and more than many.
Now you wear your final garland—
one long remembered for the blood
which will never wash away.
Back then in this house
lived a spirit of strife,
a power that broke our king.

CLYTEMNESTRA
Don’t torment yourself like this, invoking
death and fate, or redirect your rage
on Helen, as if she killed those men,
all those Danaan lives, all by herself,
and brought us pain past remedy.

Related Characters: Clytemnestra (speaker), The Chorus (speaker), Agamemnon, Helen
Page Number: 1448-1468
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Agamemnon Character Timeline in Agamemnon

The timeline below shows where the character Agamemnon appears in Agamemnon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-354
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
...watch for a signal fire from Troy. The signal fire would indicate that her husband Agamemnon’s army has taken the city and is victorious in the Trojan War. (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
...and he jumps up to inform Clytemnestra. Then his mood changes abruptly as he wishes Agamemnon a safe return, and once again he expresses a vague sense of some mysterious and... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
...War. The members of the Chorus explain that the war is an act of revenge: Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus raised an army from across all the cities of Greece and... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
...then explains that during the war, the goddess Artemis had sent strong winds to delay Agamemnon’s fleet from arriving in Troy. In order to appease Artemis, the army’s prophet suggested that... (full context)
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...Clytemnestra to tell them what has happened, and she gives them the good news that Agamemnon’s army has taken Troy. Although overjoyed, the Chorus can barely believe the news. They ask... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
...She explains that while the Trojans are in a chaotic and painful state of mourning, Agamemnon’s army is enjoying the spoils of war. She hopes that the Greek army’s looting won’t... (full context)
Lines 355-782
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
...Greeks during the war is creating unrest in Argos, and that the citizens may resent Agamemnon for engaging in such a long and difficult war. Furthermore, the Chorus worries that the... (full context)
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
...upon the Greeks. He then confirms for the Chorus that Troy has fallen and that Agamemnon is on his way home. (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
...much destruction and strife. They recount how Helen traveled to Troy by boat, and how Agamemnon’s army followed her there, bringing Troy’s ultimate destruction. (full context)
Lines 783-1033
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
Agamemnon enters riding a chariot. With him is the prophet Cassandra – a Trojan princess, Paris’... (full context)
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
The Chorus greets Agamemnon with honesty, claiming that not all of the citizens would be so willing to be... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
Addressing the citizens of Argos, Agamemnon thanks the gods and begrudgingly reminds everyone that a woman caused the war that brought... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
As Agamemnon begins to descend from the chariot, Clytemnestra stops him and addresses the crowd. She recounts... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
Agamemnon chides Clytemnestra for speaking too much and refuses to walk on the tapestries, telling her... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
Although the Chorus has just witnessed Agamemnon’s safe return, their anxieties have not been quelled, and they can sense the vengeful Furies... (full context)
Lines 1034-1330
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
After returning to the image of the man (Agamemnon’s uncle Thyestes) eating his own cooked children, Cassandra explicitly declares that Agamemnon will be murdered.... (full context)
Lines 1331-1675
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
...considers Cassandra’s prophecy. They conclude that if the prophecy is indeed true, and that if Agamemnon can have the help of the gods to win a military conquest, but still be... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
All of a sudden, from within the palace, Agamemnon screams twice. The Chorus goes into a state of panic, each member suggesting conflicting ideas... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The palace doors open, revealing a blood-soaked Clytemnestra standing over the dead bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra. Clytemnestra openly confesses to killing Agamemnon and details how she murdered him by... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...the palace with a cadre of soldiers. In a long speech, he expresses joy at Agamemnon’s murder, and recounts in detail the incident where Agamemnon’s father Atreus cooked Aegisthus’ brothers and... (full context)