The Libation Bearers

Agamemnon Character Analysis

The king of Argos, husband of Clytemnestra, and father of Orestes, Electra, and Iphigenia. Agamemnon was murdered by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus in Agamemnon, Aeschylus’s play preceding The Libation Bearers. Agamemnon was the leader of the Greeks during the Trojan War, and the brother of Menelaus, who started the war to retrieve his wife Helen. Agamemnon was doomed from the war’s start, however, both because he was a member of the cursed House of Atreus and because he slaughtered his own daughter, Iphigenia, in exchange for safe passage to Troy. This act caused Clytemnestra to avenge her daughter’s death, murdering Agamemnon when he returned home, victorious, from Troy.

Agamemnon Quotes in The Libation Bearers

The The Libation Bearers 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 Penguin Books edition of The Libation Bearers published in 1966.
Lines 1-585 Quotes

Dear god, let me avenge my father’s murder—fight beside me now with all your might!

Related Characters: Orestes (speaker), Agamemnon
Related Symbols: Agamemnon’s Burial Mound and Shroud
Page Number: 21-22
Explanation and Analysis:

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The proud dead stir under the earth,

They rage against the ones who took their lives…

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Electra, Agamemnon
Related Symbols: Agamemnon’s Burial Mound and Shroud
Page Number: 44-45
Explanation and Analysis:

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What to say when I pour the cup of sorrow?
What kindness, what prayer can touch my father?
Shall I say I bring him love for love, a woman’s
love for her husband? My mother, love from her?
I’ve no taste for that, no words to say
as I run the honeyed oil on father’s tomb.

Related Characters: Electra (speaker), The Chorus, Clytemnestra, Agamemnon
Related Symbols: Agamemnon’s Burial Mound and Shroud
Page Number: 86-91
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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You light to my eyes, four loves in one!
I have to call you father, it is fate;
and I turn to you the love I gave my mother—
I despise her, she deserves it, yes,
and the love I gave my sister, sacrificed
on the cruel sword, I turn to you.

Related Characters: Electra (speaker), The Chorus (speaker), Orestes, Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, Iphigenia
Page Number: 240-245
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 719-1065 Quotes

Clytemnestra: Watch out—the hounds of a mother’s curse will hunt you down.
Orestes: But how to escape a father’s if I fail?

Related Characters: Orestes (speaker), Clytemnestra (speaker), Agamemnon, The Furies
Page Number: 911-912
Explanation and Analysis:

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But she who plotted this horror against her husband,
she carried his children, growing in her womb
and she—I loved her once
and now I loathe, I have to loathe—what is she?
Some moray eel, some viper born to rot her mate
with a single touch, no fang to strike him
just the wrong, the reckless fury in her heart!

Related Characters: Orestes (speaker), Clytemnestra, Agamemnon
Related Symbols: Serpents and Snakes
Page Number: 983-989
Explanation and Analysis:

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Agamemnon Character Timeline in The Libation Bearers

The timeline below shows where the character Agamemnon appears in The Libation Bearers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-585
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The play opens at Agamemnon’s burial mound in Argos, before which stand Orestes (Agamemnon’s son) and his faithful companion Pylades.... (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, observing them, notices his sister and prays to the gods to let him avenge Agamemnon’s murder. He hides along with Pylades, anxious to know why the women are approaching the... (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
...their own plight with that of Electra, who silently and secretly mourns for the betrayed Agamemnon. (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Electra praises the Chorus, thanking them for accompanying her to Agamemnon’s grave. She begins to lament her father’s death, adding that she cannot bring him love... (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
...ask the dead and Mother Earth to hear her plea. She asks the spirit of Agamemnon to pity both her and Orestes, whom she feels her mother Clytemnestra has sold in... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...Chorus to add their prayers to hers. The group of women laments the death of Agamemnon, and begs the gods of the dead for the appearance of an avenger to free... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...it signifies the presence of Orestes. Electra believes that Orestes sent the lock to honor Agamemnon, and the Chorus adds that he will “never set foot on native ground again.” At... (full context)
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...father (dead at Clytemnestra’s hands), her mother (a betrayer), and her sister (Iphigenia, dead at Agamemnon’s hands). Electra prays to Zeus, the king of the gods, for safety and success. (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The Chorus, too, prays to Zeus, comparing the dead Agamemnon to an eagle killed by a treacherous snake. They once again compare their enslaved state... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...the protection of Apollo, and that the god’s oracle has ordered him to hunt down Agamemnon’s killers. He relates what the oracle has told him: that if the dead go without... (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
...begs her father to end her and Orestes’ pain. Both the Leader and Orestes praise Agamemnon, and the siblings wish that their father had died an honorable, warrior’s death at Troy.... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...spirit offerings, prayers, and honor. Growing more incensed, the two remember the plot that doomed Agamemnon, in which Clytemnestra used a net to trap the king while he was in a... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Before leaving, Orestes wonders why Clytemnestra sent libations to Agamemnon’s tomb, considering her impiety and her hatred of her dead husband. The leader of the... (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
...orders the Chorus to keep his secret. Last, he prays to his dead father, asking Agamemnon to guide his sword. Then he, Pylades, and Electra exit. (full context)
Lines 586-652
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
...with their feminine wiles. The Chorus turns to Clytemnestra in particular, remembering how she overcame Agamemnon despite his “warlord’s power,” and they assert that the gods detest such women. They then... (full context)
Lines 719-1065
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
...side of justice. Calling Orestes an orphan, they remind Zeus of how much he loved Agamemnon, and they beg him to end the cycle of bloodshed and vengeance that has overtaken... (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
...a mother’s curse on his head if he kills her. She adds that she killed Agamemnon because she was destined to. Orestes responds with scorn, telling her that it is her... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...mourning with justice and vengeance. They sing of Orestes’ triumph, and of the cleansing of Agamemnon’s house. Although Orestes’ purpose was one of vengeance and deception, they remind the audience 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
...that they die together. He then displays the same robes that Clytemnestra used to entangle Agamemnon before murdering him, and recounts the plot that killed his father. He unfolds the robes... (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
...He states that he killed Clytemnestra because Apollo ordered him to, and because she killed Agamemnon—his actions, in short, were just. As Orestes speaks, Pylades gives him an olive branch and... (full context)