Agamemnon's Clytemnestra

In Aeschylus' tragedy Agamemnon the character of Clytemnestra is portrayed as
strong willed woman. This characteristic is not necessarily typical of women of
her time. As a result, the reader must take a deeper look into the understanding
of Clytemnestra. In Agamemnon she dominates the action. Her most important
characteristic is like the watchman calls it, "male strength of
heart." She is a strong woman, and her strength is evident on many
occasions is the play. Later in the play after Clytemnestra murders her husband,

Agamemnon, and his concubine, Cassandra, she reveals her driving force and was
has spurned all of her actions until this point. Clytemnestra is seen by the

Elders of Argos (the Chorus) as untrustworthy and although suspicious of her
they still could not foresee the impending murders. Her words are plain but her
meaning hidden to all those around her. She more or less alludes to her plan of
murder without fear of being detected. Only the audience can seem to understand
the double meaning in her words. One example of how Clytemnestra hides meanings
in otherwise plain words is stated in her hope that Agamemnon and his soldiers
do not commit any sacrilege in Troy that might offend the gods. Now must they
pay due respect to the gods that inhabit the town, the gods of the conquered
land, or their victory may end in their own destruction after all. Too soon for
their safety, the soldiery, seized with greed, may yield to their covetousness
and lay hands on forbidden spoil. They have still to bring themselves home, have
still the backward arm of the double course to make. And if no sin against
heaven rest on the returning host, there is the wrong of the dead that watches.

Evil may find accomplishment, although it fall not at once. This can be
interpreted in two ways. The first being that her wish for Agamemnon to return
safely is so she may kill him herself. The second, is that of sarcasm. Perhaps
she really does wish for Agamemnon to upset the gods. That way when she murders
him she will divine sanction. Another instance that there is a double meaning in
her words is in her pleadings to the herald to take this message back to

Agamemnon, "let him come with speed to the people that love him, come to
find in his home the wife faithful, even such as he left her, a very house-dog,
loyal to one and an enemy to his foes..." The audience knows this to be
untrue because not only has she not been faithful, but the person she was
unfaithful with is the rival to Agamemnon's crown, his cousin Aegisthus. The

Chorus' distrust in her is shown by their comment to the herald in which they
are trying to explain her boastful and yet sarcastic attitude, "She speaks
thus to teach you; to those who clearly can discern, her words are
hypocrisy." Time and again in the play her strength is demonstrated when
she forces Agamemnon, Aegisthus, and the Elders of Argos to bend to her will.

For example, she influences the Elders to sacrifice to the gods for Agamemnon's
safe return and temporarily wins their trust and support. In fact they sing her
praises for suggesting it by saying, "Lady, no man could speak more kindly
wisdom than you. For my part, after the sure proof heard from you, my purpose is
now to give our thanks to the gods, who have wrought a return in full for all
the pains." Her shrewdness is also shown by the way she coaxes her husband
into submission. She wants him to walk on rich purple tapestries in hopes that
this would anger the gods and they will aid her in his murder. She does so by
challenging his manhood like in the statement, "Then let not blame of men
make you ashamed." In which she is basically calling him a
"chicken". He gives in and takes off his sandals and walks on the
tapestries even though he fears it may not please the gods. She single-handedly
plots the murder of Agamemnon and Cassandra. When she is successful in taking
away their lives she professes it loudly, " For me, I have had long enough
to prepare this wrestle for victory, though it has come at last. I stand where I
struck, over the finished work." According to Clytemnestra, she believes
she is doing right, "an offering of thanks to the nether god, to Hades,
safe keeper of the dead." Once again her persuasive