Agamemnon

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In Greek mythology, Agamemnon (Ancient Greek: Ἀγαμέμνων; modern Greek: Αγαμέμνονας, "leader of the assembly") was the son of King Atreus of Mycenae and Queen Aerope; the brother of Menelaus and the husband of Clytemnestra; mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area. When Helen, the wife of Menelaus, was abducted by Paris of Troy, Agamemnon was the commander of the Achaeans in the ensuing Trojan War.

Upon Agamemnon's return from Troy he was murdered (according to the fullest version of the oldest surviving account, Odyssey Book 11, l.409f.) by Aegisthus, the lover of his wife Clytemnestra. In old versions of the story: "The scene of the murder, when it is specified, is usually the house of Aegisthus, who has not taken up residence in Agamemnon's palace, and it involves an ambush and the deaths of Agamemnon's followers too".[1] In some later versions Clytemnestra herself does the killing, or they do it together, in his own home.

Contents

Historical prototype

Hittite sources mention URUAkagamunaš, ruler of URUAhhiyawa (land of Achaeans) in the 14th century BC.[2][3] This is a possible prototype of the Agamemnon of mythology.

Early life

Atreus, Agamemnon's father, murdered the children of his twin brother Thyestes and fed them to him after discovering Thyestes' adultery with his wife Aerope. Thyestes fathered Aegisthus with his own daughter, and this son vowed gruesome revenge on Atreus' children. Aegisthus successfully murdered Atreus and restored his father to the throne. Aegisthus took possession of the throne of Mycenae and ruled jointly with Thyestes. During this period Agamemnon and his brother, Menelaus, took refuge with Tyndareus, King of Sparta. There they respectively married Tyndareus' daughters Clytemnestra and Helen. Agamemnon and Clytemnestra had four children: one son, Orestes, and three daughters, Iphigenia, Electra and Chrysothemis. Menelaus succeeded Tyndareus in Sparta, while Agamemnon, with his brother's assistance, drove out Aegisthus and Thyestes to recover his father's kingdom. He extended his dominion by conquest and became the most powerful prince in Greece.

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