In Greek mythology, Agamemnon (very resolute) / (ancient Greek: polytonic|Ἀγαμέμνων) is a hero, the son of King Atreus of Mycenae and Queen Aerope, the brother of Menelaus and the husband of Clytemnestra; different mythological versions make him the king either of Mycenae or of Argos. 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 his return home, he was murdered by his wife Clytemnestra.

Historical Agamemnon

Hittite sources mention about Hittite|Akagamunaš, ruler of Hittite|Ahhiyawa (land of Achaeans) in 14th century BC [Gerd Steiner. [ The Case of Wiluša and Ahhiyawa] . Bibliotheca Orientalis LXIV No. 5-6, September-December 2007] . This is a probable prototype of Agamemnon.

Early life

Atreus was murdered by Aegisthus, who took possession of the throne of Mycenae and ruled jointly with his own father Thyestes. During this period Agamemnon and his brother, Menelaus, took refuge with Tyndareus, king of Sparta. There they respectively married Tyndareus's 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.

Agamemnon's family history, dating back to legendary king Pelops, had been marred by rape, murder, incest, and treachery. The Greeks believed this violent past brought misfortune upon the entire House of Atreus.

The Trojan War

Agamemnon gathered the reluctant Greek forces to sail for Troy. Preparing to depart from Aulis, which was a port in Boeotia, Agamemnon's army incurred the wrath of the goddess Artemis. There are several reasons throughout myth for such wrath: in Aeschylus' play Agamemnon, Artemis is angry for the young men who will die at Troy, whereas in Sophocles' Electra, Agamemnon has slain an animal sacred to Artemis, and subsequently boasted that he was Artemis's equal in hunting. Misfortunes, including a plague and a lack of wind, prevented the army from sailing. Finally, the prophet Calchas announced that the wrath of the goddess could only be propitiated by the sacrifice of Agamemnon's daughter Iphigeneia. Classical dramatizations differ on how willing either father or daughter were to this fate, some include such trickery as claiming she was to be married to Achilles, but Agamemnon did eventually sacrifice Iphigeneia. Her death appeased Artemis, and the Greek army set out for Troy. Several alternatives to the human sacrifice have been presented in Greek mythology. Other sources claim that Agamemnon was prepared to kill his daughter, but that Artemis accepted a deer in her place, and whisked her to Taurus in Crimea. Hesiod said she became the goddess Hecate.

Agamemnon was the commander-in-chief of the Greeks during the Trojan War. During the fighting, Agamemnon killed Antiphus. Agamemnon's teamster, Halaesus, later fought with Aeneas in Italy. The "Iliad" tells the story of the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles in the final year of the war. Agamemnon took an attractive slave and spoil of war Briseis from Achilles. Achilles, the greatest warrior of the age, withdrew from battle in revenge and nearly cost the Greek armies the war.

Although not the equal of Achilles in bravery, Agamemnon was a dignified representative of kingly authority. As commander-in-chief, he summoned the princes to the council and led the army in battle. He took the field himself, and performed many heroic deeds until he was wounded and forced to withdraw to his tent. His chief fault was his overwhelming haughtiness. An over-exalted opinion of his position led him to insult Chryses and Achilles, thereby bringing great disaster upon the Greeks"'.

After the capture of Troy, Cassandra, doomed prophetess and daughter of Priam, fell to Agamemnon's lot in the distribution of the prizes of war.

Return to Greece

After a stormy voyage, Agamemnon and Cassandra landed in Argolis or were blown off course and landed in Aegisthus' country. Clytemnestra, Agamemnon's wife, had taken a lover, Aegisthus, and they invited Agamemnon to a banquet at which he was treacherously slain. According to the account given by Pindar and the tragedians, Agamemnon was slain by his wife alone in a bath, a blanket of cloth or a net having first been thrown over him to prevent resistance. Clytemnestra also killed Cassandra. Her wrath at the sacrifice of Iphigenia, her jealousy of Cassandra, and the possibility of going to war for Helen's affection are said to have been the motives for her crime. Aegisthus then ruled Agamemnon's kingdom for a time, but the murder of Agamemnon was eventually avenged by his son Orestes with the help of his daughter Electra.

Other stories

Athenaeus tells a story of how Agamemnon mourned the loss of his friend Argynnus, when he drowned in the Cephisus river. He buried him, honored him with a tomb. (The Deipnosophists of Athenaeus of Naucratis, Book XIII Concerning Women, p.3) This episode is also found in Clement of Alexandria (Protrepticus II.38.2), in Stephen of Byzantium "(Kopai" and "Argunnos)," and in Propertius, III with minor variations. The fortunes of Agamemnon have formed the subject of numerous tragedies, ancient and modern, the most famous being the Oresteia of Aeschylus. In the legends of the Peloponnesus, Agamemnon was regarded as the highest type of a powerful monarch, and in Sparta he was worshipped under the title of "Zeus Agamemnon". His tomb was pointed out among the ruins of Mycenae and at Amyclae.

Another account makes him the son of Pleisthenes (the son or father of Atreus), who is said to have been Aerope's first husband.

In works of art there is considerable resemblance between the representations of Zeus, king of the gods, and Agamemnon, king of men. He is generally characterized by the sceptre and diadem, the usual attributes of kings.


ee also

* National Archaeological Museum of Athens
* Mycenae
* Troy
* Homer


Primary sources

* Homer, "Iliad";
* Euripides, "Electra";
* Sophocles, "Electra";
*Seneca, "Agamemnon"
* Aeschylus, "The Libation Bearers";
* Homer, "Odyssey" I, 28-31; XI, 385-464;
* Aeschylus, "Agamemnon (play)" [ online] ;
*Apollodorus, "Epitome", II, 15-III, 22; VI, 23.

econdary sources

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Agamemnon — {{Agamemnon}} Sohn des Atreus* und der Aerope*, Bruder des Menelaos*, Ehemann der Klytaimestra*, Vater des Orestes*, der Elektra*, der Iphigenie* und der Chrysothemis*. Als Atreus durch Aigisthos* ermordet und Thyestes** Herr von Mykene geworden… …   Who's who in der antiken Mythologie

  • AGAMEMNON — AGAMEM Roi de Mycènes et d’Argos, fils d’Atrée, et frère de Ménélas. Après le meurtre d’Atrée par Thyeste et son fils Égisthe, Agamemnon et Ménélas se réfugièrent chez Tyndare, roi de Sparte, et épousèrent ses filles, Clytemnestre et Hélène.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Agamemnon [1] — AGAMEMNON, ŏnis, soll ein Beynamen des Jupiters seyn, unter welchem er zu Sparta verehret worden, der ihm eben vom vorhergehenden Agamemnon gegeben worden. Potter. ad Lycophr. v. 335. Dagegen wollen andere, daß, weil Agamemnon ἐυρυκρείων, Jupiter …   Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

  • Agamemnon — AGAMEMNON, ŏnis, Ἀγαμέμνων, όνος, (⇒ Tab. XXX.) 1 §. Aeltern. Sein Vater war Plisthenes, des Atreus Sohn, Apollod. lib. III. c. 2. §. 2. welcher ihn, den Menelaus und die Anaxibia, nach einigen, mit der Eriphyle, Scholiast. Eurip. ad Orest. v. 5 …   Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

  • AGAMEMNON — Atrei ex Aerope fil. ut Homer. Il. α. ait, Plisthenis vero, ut Hesiod. in θεογον. et frater Menelai, Mycenarum et Argivorum Rex a Perseo IX. ab Atreo (sub quo Pelopidae Perseidas regnô summoverunt) IV. quasi ἄγαν μένων h. c. perseverans, qui… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Agamemnon — Agamemnon, des Atreus Sohn oder Enkel, Fürst von Mycene und Sicyon, führte die Griechen nach Troja zur 10jährigen Belagerung. Homer schildert ihn als guten König und tapfern Kämpfer. Nach seiner Rückkehr wurde er von seinem Weibe Klytemnestra und …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Agamemnon [1] — Agamemnon, Sohn des Atreus u. der Aërope, Bruder des Menelaos, floh mit demselben, nachdem ihr Vater ermordet worden war, nach Sparta,[176] wo er Klytämnestra, Tochter des Tyndareus, heirathete: er vertrieb darauf Ägisthos, seinen Vetter, aus… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Agamemnon [2] — Agamemnon (Papilio eques A. L.), Schmetterling, Untergattung der Ritterfalter, s.d …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Agamemnon — Agamemnon, Sohn des Atreus und der Aërope, Enkel des Pelops, Urenkel des Tantalos. Von Thyestes aus Mykenä vertrieben (s. Atreus), flüchteten er und sein Bruder Menelaos nach Sparta zu König Tyndareos und vermählten sich mit dessen Töchtern,… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Agamémnon — Agamémnon, Sohn des Atreus, Königs von Mykenä, und der Aerope, Bruder des Menelaos, Hauptanführer des griech. Heers vor Troja, nach seiner Rückkehr auf Anstiften seiner Gemahlin Klytaimnestra von Aigisthos ermordet; sein und seiner Nachkommen… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Agamemnon — king of Mycenae, leader of the Greeks in the Trojan War, his name perhaps represents Gk. Aga medmon, lit. ruling mightily, from agan very much + medon ruler (see MEDITATION (Cf. meditation)) …   Etymology dictionary

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