One day Zeus assumed the shape of a swan and ravished Leda, after which she gave birth to Clytemnestra’s half-sister Helen, who eventually became the wife of Menelaus. But Helen ran off with Paris, the Trojan prince, and Agamemnon and Menelaus made war on the Trojans and their king, Priam, in retaliation for Paris’ disrespect.
The Agamemnon of Aeschylus begins just as the gruelling tenyears-long Trojan War is coming to a close. But for the citizens of Argos the victory celebration is an uneasy one. A terrible deed took place at the outset of the war that sticks in the mind. Agamemnon sacrificed his youngest daughter Iphigenia to placate a god sending storm winds that stymied the Greek fleet from sailing to Troy. For ten years now the Chorus has dwelt on what the Greek army’s chief prophet foresaw even before the fleet had sailed away: the woman of the palace of the sons of Atreus would not forget what Agamemnon had done to their child. Clytemnestra has spent those ten long years plotting revenge.
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