The Libation Bearers

Aegisthus Character Analysis

Clytemnestra’s lover, and her accomplice in murdering Agamemnon, Aegisthus hates the house of Atreus, which was responsible for his own family’s ruin. He rejoices when he learns (falsely) that Orestes is dead, but remains deeply suspicious about whether or not this report is true. Aegisthus also is shamefully unmasculine, allowing Clytemnestra to dominate and rule him at every turn. He is also impious, neglecting the basic Greek laws of hospitality when the disguised Orestes shows up at his door as a guest.

Aegisthus Quotes in The Libation Bearers

The The Libation Bearers quotes below are all either spoken by Aegisthus or refer to Aegisthus. 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 Penguin Books edition of The Libation Bearers published in 1966.
Lines 1-585 Quotes

For our enemies I say,
raise up your avenger, into the light, my father—
kill the killers in return, with justice!
So in the midst of prayers for good I place
this curse for them.

Related Characters: Electra (speaker), Orestes, The Chorus, Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, Agamemnon
Related Symbols: Agamemnon’s Burial Mound and Shroud
Page Number: 147-151
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 653-718 Quotes

Slave, the slave!—
where is he? Hear me pounding the gates?
Is there a man inside the house?
For the third time, come out of the halls!
If Aegisthus has them welcome friendly guests.

Related Characters: Orestes (speaker), Aegisthus, Pylades
Page Number: 633-637
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 719-1065 Quotes

The butcher comes. Wipe out death with death.

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Orestes, Aegisthus
Page Number: 823
Explanation and Analysis:

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Aegisthus Character Timeline in The Libation Bearers

The timeline below shows where the character Aegisthus appears in The Libation Bearers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-585
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...Chorus tells Electra that she should say a prayer for “those who love you…[and] hate Aegisthus.” Electra laments that she is entirely alone except for the Chorus, but the leader urges... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...Orestes, whom she feels her mother Clytemnestra has sold in exchange for her murderous lover Aegisthus. She describes her near enslavement and Orestes’ exile, asking that Orestes be returned home, and... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...the appearance of an avenger to free the house from the corruption of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The Chorus leader warns Orestes and Electra to be wary of Aegisthus’ and Clytemnestra’s spies. Orestes responds that he is under the protection of Apollo, and that... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...died an honorable, warrior’s death at Troy. The Chorus prophecies the end of Clytemnestra’s and Aegisthus’ reign, and then all three begin to beg the gods for violent, bloody vengeance. They... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...the grave. Orestes prays for the power “to rule our house” while Electra begs for Aegisthus’ death, and her own freedom. The siblings promise their father’s spirit offerings, prayers, and honor.... (full context)
Lines 653-718
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Orestes and Pylades (both now disguised) reenter. As Orestes predicted, Aegisthus makes the two knock three times at his gates before being allowed in (a grave... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...orders Electra to escort Orestes and his servants to their rooms, before resolving to tell Aegisthus the news. All exit. (full context)
Lines 719-1065
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
...nurse when he was a child, in tears. She recounts how Clytemnestra is looking for Aegisthus so that he can go speak to (the disguised) Orestes, and then relates her own... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Cilissa then reveals that Clytemnestra has told Aegisthus to bring his bodyguards with him when he talks to Orestes, but the leader of... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...mother), and to “go through with the murder.” As they finish their prayers, the “butcher” Aegisthus enters. They pray that Orestes will “[w]ipe out death with death.” (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Aegisthus, having heard that Orestes is dead, worries that this terrible news may destabilize his kingdom... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
With Aegisthus gone, the Chorus prays to Zeus once more, begging the god for Orestes’ success. They... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
To answer their question, out rushes a wounded servant of Aegisthus, incoherently lamenting his master’s death. He attempts to open the door to the women’s quarters... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The doors of the palace open to reveal Orestes and Pylades with the body of Aegisthus. Giving Clytemnestra no time to mourn, Orestes drags his mother towards her lover’s body. She... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Turning back to Clytemnestra, Orestes tells her that he will kill her on top of Aegisthus’ body. She continues to beg, telling him that she will bring down a mother’s curse... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...future. Last they turn to time, anticipating a future of prosperity and peace, free of Aegisthus’ and Clytemnestra’s corruption. (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Orestes and Pylades reemerge, standing over the bodies of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. Orestes remembers how the two killed his father, adding that it is appropriate that they... (full context)