Upon being informed that her palace is under attack and her lover Aegisthus has been killed, Clytemnestra immediately calls for her “man-axe” in order to defend herself. Within the patriarchal world of the Greek tragedy, Clytemnestra’s willingness to take up arms is evidence of her lack of femininity, and her overbearing dominance. It was this same “unfeminine” desire for power and willingness to commit violence that led Clytemnestra to conspire to kill Agamemnon. The man-axe thus represents Clytemnestra’s “man-killing” qualities: those which allow her to avenge her daughter and seize power over Argos, but which also condemn her in the eyes of the Greeks and lead to her ultimate downfall.
Clytemnestra’s Man-Axe Quotes in The Libation Bearers
Ah, a riddle. I do well at riddles.
By cunning we die, precisely as we killed.
Hand me the man-axe, someone, hurry!