Women usually are the most unfortunate roles in Greek tragedies. As women, particularly as mothers, family is the most important factor of their lives. While men are after honor and glory in warfare or in politics, women are after honor and protection for their families. In Agamemnon, Clytaemnestra encountered a situation no woman should ever have to face: she had to welcome the murderer of her daughter, who was also her husband, back into her home (Agamemnon, Lines 897-899). Instead of showing reluctance, she welcomed Agamemnon with sweet words and open arms. The reason for her actions was to weaken Agamemnon to the point where she could kill him without his retaliation. Through deliberate planning, she succeeded in killing him to avenge her daughter; she exclaimed after the deed was done, "Here is Agamemnon, my husband made a corpse/ by [my] right hand - a masterpiece of Justice" (Lines 1429-1430). By murdering Agamemnon, she claimed justice for her daughter. The story,
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￼however, did not end there. Clytaemnestra was greeted with negative outcries from the old men of Argos, represented by the Chorus and the Leader, as well as her own son, Orestes.
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...in a place where "she shall call on Hades, god of death,/in her prayers. That god only she reveres" (Lines 844-845). Indeed, this is the place where Antigone goes and meets god of death, since she committed suicide. Like Clytaemnestra, Antigone lost her life due to the choices the emasculated men made in order for them to reestablish their dominance and masculinity in their respective societies.
While Clytaemnestra and Antigone, two strong women, tried to bring justice and honor to their families, they ended up being put to death by men. These men believed that their pride was wounded by these two women’s actions. No individual should ever underestimate the vulnerability of the male ego and pride, especially in Ancient Greece.
The Oresteia by Aeschylus, Translated by Robert Fagles
Antigone by Sophocles, Translated by David Greene and Richmond Lattimore
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