Tragic Hero: Agamenon by Aeschylus

1462 Words6 Pages
What defines a tragic hero? First, to have a tragic hero, one must have a tragedy. To have a tragedy there must be a shift in fortune resulting in a fall from a lofty position that evokes fear or pity in the reader. The hero in question is defined by inherent virtue, a character flaw, and a recognition of their character flaw. In Agamemnon, the only two characters with any weight or backstory are Agamemnon, the returning war hero, and Clytemnestra, the dutiful spouse. So which of these two, if any, are the play’s tragic hero? In the play Agamemnon, by Aeschylus, Clytemnestra, not Agamemnon, is the play’s tragic hero. Yet before the tragic hero can be established, the tragedy must be established. The situation leading to the first of the Orestia’s plays was most certainly tragic. Helen ran off with Paris, a shift in fortune neither Agamemnon nor Clytemnestra could have changed. A line that had been drawn in the sand was crossed, and set off a chain reaction that ripped apart the house of Atreus. The actions of Helen and Paris triggered a war that was launched with the slaughter of Iphigenia by Agamemnon’s own hand. The actions of others caused the fall of the house of Atreus that evoked fear and pity in the reader. So who is the tragic hero? Agamemnon “had the heart/to sacrifice his daughter,/to bless the war that avenged a woman’s loss/a bridal rite that sped the men-of-war” (Aeschylus 110). Agamemnon was put between a rock and a hard place; no one could deny this. He had to either kill his firstborn child and risk the wrath of the furies, or abandon his promises to his fellow sovereigns, risking the wrath of the Olympians. Agamemnon made the impossible choice and killed his daughter. One could make the argument that he was jus... ... middle of paper ... ... husband, she would’ve had to abdicate her throne, something she wasn’t ready to do. Instead, she took a man, Aegisthus, and used him to maintain her position as queen. Without a man by her side, she would’ve had to pass the throne down to Orestes. So rather than give up her last vestige of power, she gets in bed (literally and figuratively) with a rather obnoxious man. From her actions, one can conclude Clytemnestra knew what a handicap her vagina was Agamemnon was a bad person. He took war prizes, disrespected people’s property, and elevated himself to the level of a god. Clytemnestra was good person. Taking her gender out of the equation, she was a good ruler, spouse and parental figure. Clytemnestra recognized her flaw of womanhood, Agamemnon never realized his selfishness, not even in death. In conclusion, Clytemnestra was the tragic hero, not her better half.

    More about Tragic Hero: Agamenon by Aeschylus

      Open Document