The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 1 – “Agamemnon”

Vengeance is a dish served bloody as fuck… and with pickles.

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 1 – “Agamemnon”

 

  • Watchman – I’ve been watching for a beacon for the last 12 months. Some sign of goings-on in the war. Victory or defeat or the arrival of Agamemnon. I see a signal of victory over Troy. Agamemnon will be happy to come home but things aren’t so rosy.
  • Chorus – The Achaens have been gone for 10 years. The war had been dragging on. Agamemnon’s wife, Clytaemnestra, is still upset about the sacrifice of their faughter for smooth sailing to Troy. The wind stopped them from leaving the city. The sacrifice of a virgin was the only way – his own daughter – Iphigenia. Calchas predicted it all.
  • Clytaemnestra (ENTERS) – I hope this good news will make all the sadness go away. Greece defeated Troy last night. Hephaestus sent flames from city beacon to city beacon to tell the news (LEAVES)
  • Chorus – It seems that Zeus is wrapping up this whole mess. Let’s recount the reasons for the war. Paris chose Venus as the prettiest goddess. Minerva got pissed off about this. Venus couldn’t have Paris so she gave him the most beautiful woman on earth, Helen. The Argives didn’t like this, so they got up and went to fight the Trojans.
  • Herald (ENTERS) – I’m so excited to be home. They managed to survive and win, although the gods tried their best to fight it.
  • Chorus – Welcome home. We’ve been so gloomy without you. We’d better not say why.
  • Herald – You gloomy? Our voyage there and back was bad. We’ve been fighting for 10 years. It rained all the time. It was hot, cold, wet, roasting. I’m covered in lice. It was so horrible. But it’s all over. We won. Why bother doing a balance sheet between the good and bad. We won and that’s what matters.
  • Chorus – Well, then. I guess we old men can learn new things from young pups such as yourself. Maybe the rest of Argos should know about this.
  • Clytamnestra (ENTERS) – I’ve heard the news but I can still hardly believe it. They said I was silly to get excited about a beacon. I’ve been making non-stop sacrifices. But I’ll hear the whole story from the man himself. We’ll pick up exactly where we left off (LEAVES).
  • Chorus – We now… Is Menelaus coming home too?
  • Herald – He’s missing at the moment. There was a storm. I don’t know anything more… I was supposed to be the bearer of good news and now I see that it’s not the best of times. The curse of the House of Atreus isn’t over yet. Zeus is up to something. (LEAVES)
  • Chorus – Zeus had planned this before Helen was even born. It was always going to be this way. Argos has suffered as a result. Troy suffered for Paris’s lust. All of this shit for lust, hubris, justice and lack of justice.
  • Agamemnon (ENTERS)
  • Chorus – Conqueror of Troy. Son of Atreus. How should we call you? We had doubts about the war but now that you’re here, you must be praised. We’ve been faithful to you but not everybody else has been.
  • Agamemnon – Thanks to the gods and Argos. They’ve helped me travel safely and conquer Troy. There’s nothing left of the place for their kidnapping of Helen. Many people aren’t born without envy and disloyalty. Only Odysseus, if he’s still alive… We must call a council and the healers. Now, I’ll enter the palace to thank the gods.
  • Clytaemnestra (ENTERS) – I wish to announce my love for the king. It was horrible to hear the rumors. I sent Orestes, our son to stay with Strophius because the rumors spoke of a coup. I’m so glad the torture of your absence is over. I’m free now.
  • (SERVANTS ROLLED OUT A TAPESTRY BETWEEN HIM AND THE HOUSE)
  • Agamemnon – Your words are kind but I can’t walk on that. It’s for the gods and them only. I’ve tempted fate enough. Please let’s tone it down.
  • Clytaemnestra – Please! You’re nearly a god. It’s only fitting. What would Priam have done?
  • Agamemnon – He would’ve walked on it. I don’t expect you to understand. But you really shouldn’t insist. It’s not right!
  • Clytaemnestra – Please! For me! For the people!
  • Agamemnon – Oh, all right (TAKES OFF BOOTS AND WALKS ON THE ROBES). Please, gods. Don’t think too badly of me for this. Servants, take care of Cassandra and my treasure
  • Clytaemnestra – The purple dye came from the sea. I’ve got enough of it to pay 1000x a king’s ransom. It’s only fitting for a warrior and king like you. I’ll fulfill the will of Zeus.
  • (BOTH ENTER PALACE)
  • Chorus – Oh, no! This can’t be good. It’s not sure what’ll happen but I can’t feel a song of doom playing
  • Clytaemnestra (ENTERS) – You, too, Cassandra. Zeus was generous allowing you to live and be a servant to such a king. Come inside…
  • Chorus – Go on. Your mistress is ordering you.
  • Clytaemnestra – You fool. Let’s go… Hmm… Maybe I can persuade her another way… (NICELY) Cassandra, let’s go inside… Nothing… (LOUDLY) Come on!! I haven’t got all day. I’ve got sacrifices to tend to. Make a noise at least!
  • Chorus – It’s no use. She doesn’t know our language…
  • Clytaemnestra – She must have gone insane watching her people and city burn. Whatever… (LEAVES)
  • Chorus – I pity her. She was a princess and now she’s a slave in a foreign land. But them’s the breaks.
  • Cassandra – Apollo! Apollo!
  • Chorus – Quiet. He’s not going to help you
  • Cassandra – Apollo! Apollo!
  • Chorus – Again? He’s not going to like that
  • Cassandra – Apollo, god of all but only death to me. Why have you brought me here to this place?
  • Chorus – This is the house of Atreus. Don’t you know?
  • Cassandra – This is the house of those who kill their own kin. Blood has been split here and will be again. I smell a child’s flesh. Now another crime is afoot for someone who should be dear
  • Chorus – I get the past part. But the future part?
  • Cassandra – A bathing husband will be murdered soon. She’ll kill her lord but helped by another
  • Chorus – Oh shit. This is bad. I feel doom coming.
  • Cassandra – The monarch of the herd will be killed by his mate. He’ll be impaled by her horns. And I’ll be getting a dose of it too. Why didn’t you bring me here, Agamemnon? To die by your side? Damn you, Paris. Your lust has doomed all Trojans and Troy was doomed to be destroyed. I’ll be dead soon. My father, my city, my family all burnt. I feel it too (WAKES UP).
  • Chorus – What’s that all about?
  • Cassandra –A long time ago there was a human sacrifice here in this house. The family is haunted by this. But nobody will ever listen to me. I’m called a prophetess of lies even though I speak the truth.
  • Chorus – The first part is true. How do you know all this?
  • Cassandra – Apollo gave me prophetic powers. He was in love with me and I promised to marry him but I broke that promise. Because I was false to him he made me false to everyone. I predicted the fall of Troy but nobody believed me.
  • Chorus – Well, we believe you…
  • Cassandra (IN A TRANCE) – A cowardly lion will have his lioness kill his prey for him in her master’s room. As Troy was doomed, this house is doomed. I will be too. Only then will I be believed.
  • Chorus – She must mean something about Thyestes. I’m not sure though.
  • Cassandra – No! Agamemnon!
  • Chorus – Easy there, girl. We’ll appeal to the gods. No man would dare kill him.
  • Cassandra – Not a man! Why aren’t you listening to me?!?!
  • Chorus – If you can foresee this why aren’t you running away?
  • Cassandra – It’d only be delaying the inevitable. You’ll be witnesses to our death. Just one favor, please. When the time comes for punishing these murderers, let it be done quickly and thoroughly (LEAVES).
  • (CRIES FROM THE PALACE)
  • Chorus – What was that? … That was the king being murdered… We ought to do something… Let’s break in and save him… This will lead to tyranny… Our way of living will die… All this talking won’t break him back from the dead… Will we sit around and let ourselves be ruled by murderers? … Was it really murder? … We need proof…
  • (SCENE OPENS WITH CLYTAEMNESTRA STANDING OVER THE BODIES OF AGAMEMNON AND CASSANDRA)
  • Clytaemnestra – I’ve been dreaming of this moment. I faked my love for him and struck him twice while he was in his robe. He cried twice. The third time, he died spraying blood everywhere. The sweetest shower. So, then, old men… This is fitting for a man who put so much blood and bitterness in our lives.
  • Chorus – How dare you revel in the murder of our king?
  • Clytaemnestra –Whatever you think, he’s dead and I killed him
  • Chorus – You’re possessed. You’ve cursed your people for this. You must leave, you evil woman
  • Clytaemnestra – You never condemned the sacrifice of our daughter just for smooth sailing. You did nothing to punish him. Now you judge me? Don’t even try.
  • Chorus – Strange that you’d be proud of a murder. Fate will doom you to be honorless, defenseless and friendless at death.
  • Clytaemnestra – This is all out of vengeance. I’m not afraid. But I’m not defenseless or friendless. Aegisthus will be there for me. Don’t lecture me about loyalty. Agamemnon was banging everything that moved in Troy… Chryseis, Cassandra… And now they’re dead.
  • Chorus – Poor Agamemnon. You had a huge burden on you. You had to avenge the kidnapping of Helen. Argos won and you survived. Troy was destroyed. Only to be murdered by your wife.
  • Clytaemnestra – I’m guiltless. I only wanted to avenge my daughter. Blame Helen. She was the cause of it all.
  • Chorus – Guiltless? It was a power play. You saw the chance to take advantage of the situation and you murdered your husband and your king. Oh, this web of treachery she’s woven around you, Agamemnon. What a terrible death!
  • Clytaemnestra – It’s no worse than the one he inflicted. He wasn’t an honorable man. I’m no longer his wife. I’m an avenger of my daughter, Iphigenia. This was just.
  • Chorus – How dare you. Who will bury him? Sing at his grave? Eulogize him? You? His murderess?
  • Clytaemnestra – This is none of your business. His burial rites are mine. No one here will mourn for him. He’ll only see Iphigenia in Hades.
  • Chorus – Sin follows sin. Sorrow follows sorrow. When will it end? Zeus won’t let this sit. The law for mortals is that killers get killed. Now this is in your family’s blood
  • Clytaemnestra – You’re wrong. This act has stopped the cycle of death and curse has been lifted on us and Argos
  • Aegisthus (ENTERS) – This is a great day for the end of our blood grudge. My father, Thyestes tried to overthrow his brother, Atreus and was exiled. Begging for forgiveness, he was fed his children as a punishment. Now he is dead and I’ve been living in exile ever since.
  • Chorus – So, this was your idea? The people will never accept you as their king. And to think that you got a woman to do your dirty work
  • Aegisthus – She had to do it because I was suspected of something like that. But now we’re in control of the city.
  • Chorus – Orestes won’t allow you to rule
  • Aegisthus – You want a piece of me? Let’s go! Get out your swords and we’ll see what’s what
  • Clytaemnestra – That’s enough death for today. We don’t need any more trouble with the gods and the people
  • Chorus – Orestes will do something about this. Be sure of that.
  • Clytaemnestra – Well, we’ll leave it at that…

 

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