The oresteia

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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The Oresteia contains a string of bloody acts, all resulting from one conflicted decision. Because of this decision, Iphigeneia dies, Agamemnon dies, and Clytaemestra dies. The bloodshed is tragic because the slaughtering is all within one family. The decision that provokes the other decisions is Agamemnon's settlement on sacrificing Iphigeneia. As a result of this sacrifice, Artemis allows the Greek army, whom she had been holding on the shore, to begin their journey to sack Troy. Agamemnon's dilemma, which had two unfavorable options and multiple consequences on either side, deserved more contemplation than was given.

Should he kill his daughter and continue on to Troy, or should he let his daughter live and put the honor of Menelaus and Argos aside? He realizes that it is a lose-lose situation: "What of these things goes without disaster?" (Agamemnon, 211). Agamemnon needed to examine his predicament more thoroughly, but it is easy to see why he made his decision so hastily.

The situation: there are 1000 ships armed with Greek soldiers that are ready to fight and win honor back for their city. How is Agamemnon going to tell all of his soldiers, "Well, sorry guys, I don't want to kill my daughter, so it looks like the trip is off." Not only is he going to look cowardly in front of his men, he is also going to look like a bad king who does not have the best interests of his people in mind. To those soldiers, the death of Agamemnon's daughter is merely a stepping stone in their quest to overthrow Troy. Agamemnon has the same warrior-mentality as his soldiers when it comes to making the decision, as evidenced by his thoughts: "How shall I fail my ships and lose my faith of...