Summary of the Greek Play Agamemnon by Aeschylus

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Agamemnon by Aeschylus is an ancient Greek tragedy set in Argos. It begins with the homecoming of Agamemnon from the war in Troy and his wife’s Clytemnestra desire to kill him. The Herald begins a speech on line 493 on page 121 after returning from Troy. He is addressing the chorus and he reports about Agamemnon’s safe homecoming and tells the chorus what happened in Troy during the ten year duration which they were at war for. Aristotle’s theory of ancient Greek tragedies inspiring of both pity and fear is immensely seen throughout this passage. Pity, for the Herald because he is so loyal to Agamemnon and he is so happy to be home and alive and fear for Agamemnon by the way the Herald describes what occurred during the war. Throughout this passage the message at surface is essentially the Herald recounting the struggles in Troy and his delight to be back home in Greece. And by the Heralds overwhelmed gratefulness to be home safe, Aeschylus exposes the audience to the feeling of pity towards the Herald throughout this passage. Aeschylus creates this feeling of pity by his choice of dialogue and the tone of the Herald. Aeschylus’ diction is this passage consists of emotion-full words, which create the feeling of pity towards the Herald. In particular, he uses “dreamed, hopes, light, salute, loving, shining, warm, [and] cherish.” This diction corresponds to the tone of this passage. For example, in the first five lines of the passage the audience is introduced to the Herald as a very sympathetic character because of the way he is describing how proud and happy he is: “I’m home at last./Never dreamed I’d die in Greece.” This, in effect shows the audience how he is a passionate character. Punctuation, especially exclamation points i... ... middle of paper ... ...exclamation marks are used significantly throughout this passage. For example, in line 518 the Herald says, “and the high altars. Gone!” This exclamation point adds emphasize to this line, as this line is a reference to the altars that were first introduced at the beginning of the play. These altars also represent Agamemnon’s choice to sacrifice his daughter. This all relates back to how the deeds Agamemnon committed during war in Troy created a negative impression of him from the audience. The Herald’s speech fits into the Aristotle’s broad ranging categories as seen above. Aeschylus uses the notion of pity and fear for the audience to develop feelings towards the Herald and Agamemnon and for the audience to consider different sides of the story. A side is loyal and passion for Agamemnon as the Herald experiences and another is fear and horror towards Agamemnon.

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