Aeschylus: Agamemnon (Anglais) Broché – 6 novembre 2003
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This is a superb edition with one caveat. At the moment, educated consensus generally holds that a line of poetry seldom has one meaning. Denniston and Page's text plus commentary of Agamemnon apparently was written before this consensus formed. Denniston and Page are feisty, dogmatic, and insistent that they are right, and are largely reacting to Fraenkel's massive text plus commentary to the same play. They take issue with Fraenkel on a number of points while acknowledging his immense erudition. I have no reservations, however, recommending this edition. It was very useful and well-thought out. I give it a high rating.
Onto the material at hand. The chorus is basically a group of older men who can comment on situations, but can not really interfere. The chorus tells us that Troy has fallen, and Greece is triumphant. We then meet Agamemnon's wife Clytemnestra. She blames Agamemnon for the death of her child Iphigenia. So, she naturally wants to kill Agamemnon. The chorus seems to admit that it was strange that the war was fought over Helen who was a willing prisoner. Nevertheless, the chorus sides with Agamemnon when he arrives. Asimov seems to point an interesting angle out: "Such a keen sense of honor is often praised by those who are safe at home." But of course, it is a different story to those who are involved! But of course, any time romance is involved, the voice of reason tends to take a back seat.
Moving on, Agamemnon seems to be a good king in showing his piety in the light of victory. But there is one flaw. He has kidnapped Hector's sister Cassandra. (She was the virgin priestess to Apollo, and that would be the equivalent of kidnapping a nun for pleasure.) Cassandra has the gift of prophecy, but because she tried to run with Apollo's gift 'without paying for it,' Apollo cursed her in that no one would believe her prophecies.
Showing reason, she curses Paris for starting the war with his utterly stupid kidnapping of Helen. She also tells of how Orestes will avenge his father and kill Clytemnestra (in Part 2). But back to the main plot. Clytemnestra plays the devil, and uses Agamemnon's vanity against him which leads to his death. (How disturbing that vanity was the downfall of many men centuries ago, and still is!)
In comes Clytemnestra's lover Aegisthus. He talks of the crimes of Agamemnon's father against his father. What happened was Aegisthus 's father slept with Agamemnon's father's wife. In revenge, Agamemnon's father tricked Aegisthus's father into eating the flesh of his own son. the theme of revenge is further emphasized. It is of course a never ending circle. Though I do find it interesting that Aegisthus finds it fit that Agamemnon should suffer for the crimes of his father. (Yet was Aegisthus's father who started it!)
So, Aegisthus and Clytemnestra can be together for now. But of course in Part 2, we know that they will get their comeuppance. Overall, it's a great story that emphasizes the evils and seeming eternity of revenge.