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Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
(/ˌklaɪtəmˈnɛstrə/;[1] Greek: Κλυταιμνήστρα, Klytaimnḗstra, [klytai̯mnɛ̌ːstra]) was the wife of Agamemnon
Agamemnon
and queen of Mycenae
Mycenae
(or sometimes Argos) in ancient Greek legend. In the Oresteia
Oresteia
by Aeschylus, she murdered Agamemnon – said by Euripides
Euripides
to be her second husband – and the Trojan princess Cassandra, whom he had taken as war prize following the sack of Troy; however, in Homer's Odyssey, her role in Agamemnon's death is unclear and her character is significantly more subdued.

Contents

1 Name 2 Background 3 Mythology 4 Appearance in later works 5 References

5.1 Citations 5.2 Bibliography

Name[edit] Her Greek name Klytaimnḗstra is also sometimes Latinized as Clytaemnestra.[2] It is commonly glossed as "famed for her suitors". However, this form is a later misreading motivated by an erroneous etymological connection to the verb mnáomai (μνάoμαι, "woo, court"). The original name form is believed to have been Klytaimḗstra (Κλυταιμήστρα) without the -n-. The present form of the name does not appear before the middle Byzantine period.[3] Aeschylus, in certain wordplays on her name, appears to assume an etymological link with the verb mḗdomai (μήδoμαι, "scheme, contrive"). Background[edit]

Clytemnestra, John Collier, 1882

Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
was the daughter of Tyndareus
Tyndareus
and Leda, the King and Queen of Sparta, making her a Spartan Princess. According to the myth, Zeus
Zeus
appeared to Leda in the form of a swan, seducing and impregnating her. Leda produced four offspring from two eggs: Castor and Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
from one egg, and Helen and Polydeuces (Pollux) from the other. Therefore, Castor and Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
were fathered by Tyndareus, whereas Helen and Polydeuces were fathered by Zeus. Agamemnon
Agamemnon
and his brother Menelaus
Menelaus
were in exile at the home of Tyndareus; in due time Agamemnon
Agamemnon
married Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
and Menelaus married Helen. In a late variation, Euripides's Iphigenia
Iphigenia
at Aulis, Clytemnestra's first husband was Tantalus, King of Pisa; Agamemnon kills him and his infant son, then made Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
his wife. In another version, her first husband was King of Lydia. The kings of Lydia, according to Plutarch's The Greek Questions, 45,[4] having succeeded Omphale
Omphale
who had received from Herakles
Herakles
Hippolyte's (the queen of the Amazons') axe, carried this axe (called labrys by Lydians) as one of their sacred insignia of office. In the tradition following the Sicilian lyric poet Stesichorus's Oresteia[5] Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
used such a double-edged ax to assist her lover Aegisthus in the killing of Agamemnon
Agamemnon
(and later, to attempt to kill her son Orestes, as he arrived to avenge his father's death), as depicted on the mixing bowl (calyx krater) with the killing of Agamemnon
Agamemnon
(Early Classical Period – about 460 B.C.) by the Dokimasia Painter.[6] Mythology[edit] After Helen went (or was taken) from Sparta
Sparta
to Troy, her husband, Menelaus, asked his brother Agamemnon
Agamemnon
for help. Greek forces gathered at Aulis. However, consistently weak winds prevented the fleet from sailing. Through a subplot involving the gods and omens, the priest Calchas
Calchas
said the winds would be favorable if Agamemnon
Agamemnon
sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia
Iphigenia
to the goddess Artemis. Agamemnon
Agamemnon
persuaded Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
to send Iphigenia
Iphigenia
to him, telling her he was going to marry her to Achilles. When Iphigenia
Iphigenia
arrived at Aulis, she was sacrificed, the winds turned, and the troops set sail for Troy. The Trojan War
Trojan War
lasted ten years. During this period of Agamemnon's long absence, Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
began a love affair with Aegisthus, her husband's cousin. Whether Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
was seduced into the affair or entered into it independently differs according to the respective author of the myth. Nevertheless, Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
and Aegisthus
Aegisthus
began plotting Agamemnon's demise. Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
was enraged by Iphigenia's murder (and presumably the earlier murder of her first husband by Agamemnon, and her subsequent rape and forced marriage). Aegisthus
Aegisthus
saw his father Thyestes betrayed by Agamemnon's father Atreus
Atreus
( Aegisthus
Aegisthus
was conceived specifically to take revenge on that branch of the family).

Murder of Agamemnon, painting by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin
Pierre-Narcisse Guérin
(1817)

In old versions of the story, on returning from Troy, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
is murdered by Aegisthus, the lover of his wife, Clytemnestra. In some later versions Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
helps him or does the killing herself in his own home. The best-known version is that of Aeschylus: Agammemnon, having arrived at his palace with his concubine, the Trojan princess Cassandra, in tow and being greeted by his wife, entered the palace for a banquet while Cassandra
Cassandra
remained in the chariot. Clytemnestra waited until he was in the bath, and then entangled him in a cloth net and stabbed him. Trapped in the web, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
could neither escape nor resist his murderer. Meanwhile, Cassandra
Cassandra
saw a vision of herself and Agamemnon
Agamemnon
being murdered. Her attempts to elicit help failed (she had been cursed by Apollo
Apollo
that no one would believe her prophecies). She realized she was fated to die, and resolutely walked into the palace to receive her death. After the murders, Aegisthus
Aegisthus
replaced Agamemnon
Agamemnon
as king and ruled for seven years with Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
as his queen. In some traditions they have three children: a son Aletes, and daughters Erigone and Helen. Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
was eventually killed by her son by Agamemnon, Orestes. The infant Helen was also killed. Aletes and Erigone grow up at Mycenae, but when Aletes comes of age, Orestes
Orestes
returns from Sparta, kills his half-brother, and takes the throne. Orestes
Orestes
and Erigone are said to have had a son, Penthilus.

Orestes
Orestes
Pursued by the Furies
Furies
by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
was killed by Orestes
Orestes
and the Furies
Furies
torment him for this killing

Appearance in later works[edit]

She is one of the main characters in Aeschylus's Oresteia, and is central to the plot of all three parts. She murders Agamemnon
Agamemnon
in the first play, and is murdered herself in the second. Her death then leads to the trial of Orestes
Orestes
by a jury composed of Athena
Athena
and 10 Athenians in the final play. Alexandre Soumet's tragedy Clytemnestre was successfully produced in 1822. The fictional protagonist Becky Sharp plays Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
in a charade described in chapter 51 of William M. Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair. In Ferdinando Baldi's The Forgotten Pistolero, a Spaghetti Western adaptation of the Oresetia, Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
is named Anna Carrasco and is portrayed by Luciana Paluzzi. The American modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham
Martha Graham
created a two-hour ballet, Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
(1958), about the queen. Most recently, playwright and actor Corey Allen wrote a contemporary adaptation of Aeschylus' earlier work entitled Clytemnestra. The story has also been adapted into an opera; Cromwell Everson
Cromwell Everson
a South African
South African
composer wrote the first Afrikaans
Afrikaans
opera, Klutaimnestra, in 1967. It is an opera in four acts and premiered on November 7, 1967, in Biesenbach Hall, Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa. Rhian Samuel composed a 1994 work for voice and ensemble adapting Aeschylus' work from Clytemnestra's viewpoint. John Eaton composed an opera in one act entitled The Cry of Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
recounting the events leading up to and including Clytemnestra's murder of Agamemnon. She is a character in Jean-Paul Sartre's play The Flies. She is mentioned in comparison with a character from Agatha Christie's Nemesis (1971) by the name of Clotilde Bradbury-Scott. She often muses that she can see her planning and murdering her husband in a tub, but not a young girl. In the 2003 miniseries Helen of Troy, Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
is played by Katie Blake. As in the myth, she murders Agamemnon
Agamemnon
in revenge for sacrificing their daughter Iphigenia. She is the narrator of the first and last sections of Colm Tóibín's 2017 novel "House of Names," a retelling of the story of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Iphigenia, Orestes, and Electra.

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ "Definition of CLYTEMNESTRA". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2017-08-09.  ^ "Clytaemnestra", Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., Vol. VI, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1878, p. 44 . ^ "Oresteia", Loeb edition by Alan Sommerstein, intro, p.x, 2008. ^ "The Roman and Greek Questions: The Greek Questions: 40-49". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 23 March 2018.  ^ Davies, M.. (1987). Aeschylus' Clytemnestra: Sword or Axe?. The Classical Quarterly, 37(1), 65–75. ^ "Mixing bowl (calyx krater) with the killing of Agamemnon". mfa.org. 13 September 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2018. 

Bibliography[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Clytemnestra.

Servius. In Aeneida, xi.267.

v t e

Iphigenia
Iphigenia
in Aulis and Iphigenia
Iphigenia
in Tauris by Euripides

Iphigenia's family

Agamemnon
Agamemnon
(father) Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
(mother) Aegisthus
Aegisthus
(stepfather) Orestes
Orestes
(brother) Electra
Electra
(sister) Chrysothemis (sister)

Iphigenia
Iphigenia
in Aulis

Operas

Iphigénie en Aulide
Iphigénie en Aulide
(1774, Gluck)

Plays

Iphigénie
Iphigénie
(1674)

Film

Iphigenia
Iphigenia
(1977)

Novel

The Songs of the Kings

Trilogy

The Bacchae Alcmaeon in Corinth

Related

Bash: Latter-Day Plays The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Iphigenia
Iphigenia
in Tauris

Operas

Iphigénie
Iphigénie
en Tauride (1699, Desmarets and Campra) Ifigenia in Tauride (1771, Jommelli) Iphigénie
Iphigénie
en Tauride (1779, Gluck)

discography

Iphigénie
Iphigénie
en Tauride (1781, Piccinni)

Plays

Iphigenia
Iphigenia
in Tauris (1779)

v t e

Electra

Family

Agamemnon
Agamemnon
(father) Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
(mother) Aegisthus
Aegisthus
(stepfather) Orestes
Orestes
(brother) Iphigenia
Iphigenia
(sister) Chrysothemis (sister)

Films

Mourning Becomes Electra
Electra
(1947) Electra
Electra
(1962) Sandra (1965) The Forgotten Pistolero
The Forgotten Pistolero
(1969) Electra, My Love
Electra, My Love
(1974) The Travelling Players
The Travelling Players
(1975) Ellie (1984) Electra
Electra
(2010)

Operas

Idoménée
Idoménée
(1712, Campra) Idomeneo
Idomeneo
(1780, Mozart) Oresteia
Oresteia
(1895, Taneyev) Elektra (1909, Strauss/von Hofmannsthal)

discography

Leben des Orest (1930, Krenek) Mourning Becomes Electra
Electra
(1967, Levy/Butler)

Literature

Oresteia
Oresteia
(458 BC, Aeschylus) Electra
Electra
(c. 413 BC, Euripides) Orestes
Orestes
(c. 408 BC, Euripides) Electra
Electra
(c. 405 BC, Sophocles) Electra
Electra
(1937, Giraudoux) The Flies (1943, Sartre) Elektra (1971, Wijesinha) Mourning Becomes Electra
Electra
(1931, O'Neill) Elektra (1981, Marvel)

Art

Orestes
Orestes
and Electra

Authority control

.