Greek & Roman Mythology - Greek Tragedy
the inhabitants of Elysium doesn't have any obvious precedent, but it is a his niece Tyro but don't seem to have a problem with Cretheus doing the same thing Given the character of Atreus and Thyestes, it was logical for them to kill him, less of gay relationships in the myths is a fair representation of the confusion and. The gods sought to undo what Tantalus had done: they rebuilt Pelops from the . Hippodemeia, with the collusion of Atreus and Thyestes, killed Chrysippus out of a poisoned sacrifice, Atreus' was the perversion of the relationship between came to Sicyon and took a shine to Pelopia, not recognizing her as his niece. As soon as he had enjoyed her, Thyestes withdrew and hurried away into the In fact, he was her nearest relation, for though he didn't recognise her in the dark, nor until he reached Lydia on the coast of Asia Minor, where he had cousins and could Atreus himself, whose kingdom was suffering from drought and a bad.
These two characteristics are linked: Once these boundaries are crossed, mortal action is unavailing; only the gods can restore them. Instead he went to the Oracle at Delphi to ask what must have been one of the most difficult questions that oracle had ever answered: The oracle answered implacably, incomprehensibly: But really, what could be more logical?
Atreus had exhausted the possibilities of one great taboo, that of cannibalism; Thyestes would have to seek out the consequences of the other great sin, incest. That it was to be Thyestes, not Atreus, who committed incest—that Thyestes was invited to take on yet another great crime, and not told how this would help him—hardly mattered: So Thyestes set off for Sicyon, where his daughter Pelopia was priestess.
He hid in the bushes to watch her perform a sacrifice, and in the course of the rite she was stained with blood. When she went off to the river to cleanse herself, Thyestes leapt out and raped her.
She did not recognize him, but struggled desperately and managed to take his sword.
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Soon afterward, Atreus came to Sicyon and took a shine to Pelopia, not recognizing her as his niece. He asked for her hand in marriage, and it was granted. Nine months later, she gave birth to a child, Aegisthus, whom Atreus believed was his and raised as his own son. When Aegisthus was still a boy, Atreus at last managed to capture Thyestes and imprisoned him. Kind father that he was, Atreus offered Aegisthus the opportunity to kill his old enemy, and Aegisthus entered the dungeon to do so.
The sword he carried was a gift from his mother. Thyestes, however, was not to be killed so easily: Pelopia entered the dungeon, saw Thyestes, understood instantly by whom she had been raped, and killed herself with the sword in front of her son. Aegisthus showed his father the bloody sword and told him the deed was done. When Atreus went out to sacrifice a ram in thanksgiving, Aegisthus slaughtered him instead, yet another perverted sacrifice.
Thus Thyestes regained the throne of Mycenae. It must be said again: Thyestes and Aegisthus ought to die. Thyestes, child-eater, incestuous father, fratricide, and Aegisthus, the child of incest, half-parricide twice over: His sons, Agamemnon and Menelaus, flee to Sparta, where they have the good fortune to win the hands of Clytemnestra and Helen, respectively—a double-edged sword if ever there was one.
So the story continues. For our purposes we need only note that, with Agamemnon, something new emerges—the beginning of the end, even. Stopping at Aulis on his way to Troy, Agamemnon kills a deer in a grove sacred to Artemis and then brags that he is a better hunter than the huntress herself. For this utterly trivial and laughably hubristic act, Artemis becalms his fleet, and a soothsayer reveals that she will allow them to proceed only if Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia.
His sacrifice is a true sacrifice, demanded by the gods of an unwilling human. When the oracle tells Thyestes to rape his daughter, it merely places a weapon in his hands, but Artemis requires Agamemnon to strike the blow. He does so out of duty.
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Tantalus acts for no reason at all, Pelops out of ambition, Atreus and Thyestes out of wrath; each is entirely united with his crime, none has cause to ask why it falls into his hands. With Agamemnon a new space opens up between the actor and his action. Two new questions emerge. First, the properly political comes into play here for the first time. Agamemnon has a duty as father, but he has a higher duty as king. This is more than a conflict of motives, it is a conflict of worlds: At the limit, a choice must be made, and whichever path one chooses, one will not be forgiven.
Hegel argued that for the Greeks, fate just was this conflict, this impossible choice; we may suspend judgment on that point. In any case the question will remain central to Greek thought for centuries, will achieve its ambiguous suspension in Socrates and its apotheosis in Antigone. The second, related, dimension of this space we might broadly call psychology. No longer is the actor made entirely manifest in his act, no longer is he at one with the world; hence his motives become questionable, his act requires interpretation.
To say that the acts require interpretation is merely to say that they require speech, the speech of the actor. Thyestes did not need to speak, his acts could not be misunderstood—but with Agamemnon there is a distance between will and deed, so there is a question.
The opening of these two dimensions—the political and the psychological—gives birth to a new form of art: Greek tragedy exists in the split between actor and action, between fate and the individual; it is a poetry of questionable actions and the speech which seeks to explain them. And it is with Agamemnon that the house of Atreus becomes for the first time tragic; it is with the story of his children that Aeschylus invents the form.
Homer did not write about the sacrifice of Iphigenia, and this is proper: For adequate treatment it had to await Euripides. And the crime which contaminates victim and agent in the same breath, the crime whose effects can shake a city, is the tragic subject par excellence. But something has changed: It happens sooner for Antigone, who knows her doom and takes it upon her virtually the moment she comes on stage, and later for Oedipus, who spends all of Oedipus Rex understanding what he is.
But it happens—the moment of self-consciousness unknown to Atreus and just barely glimpsed by Agamemnon. And this minimal difference, this hesitation before the deed, creates the possibility—ambiguous, occasional, just barely there—of redemption. His father Agamemnon returns to Greece after a decade of war only to be slaughtered by his mother, who has meanwhile been seduced by cousin Aegisthus. In one version, not that of Aeschylus, it is Aegisthus who kills Agamemnon, and he does it like a good Atreid, by inviting him to a feast.
Orestes, however, in a moment with no precedent among all his ancestors, hesitates. Like his uncle, he goes to Delos to seek advice.
The Oracle displays about as much forbearance here as it did with Thyestes: Apollo tells him that he will be cursed with leprosy and hateful to the gods if he fails to avenge his father. Recognizing that a matricide will provoke the wrath of the Furies, Apollo gives him a bow with which to fight them off. Orestes returns home and kills his mother. The Furies swoop down on him to wreak their revenge; they give him to understand that he will never be forgiven. Apollo is out of his depth here.
These are older gods. Orestes wanders throughout Greece, from river to river and shrine to shrine, purifying himself in each of them: In ancient times there was a shrine in Arcadia called Finger Rock, sacred to Orestes; it marks the place where he bit off his finger, no longer able to bear his pain. But the pain continued. At last Orestes, following the advice of Apollo, came to Athens.
No one welcomed him, no one offered him food or rest: Later he was given a little wine, but made to drink it alone, at a separate table, from a separate vessel.
Atreus and Thyestes – House of Atreus – The Curse
Finally, at the instigation of Athena, a trial was organized: The trial turned on the question of parentage: Even so, the council was divided, split right down the middle. Athena herself, the motherless goddess, cast the deciding vote for absolution.
So ends the story of the curse of the Atreids. It marks, first, the final victory of the new gods over the old, the establishment of Olympian preeminence over Fates and Furies. But the victory is ambiguous, perhaps Pyrrhic—the opening of the Athenian age is also the beginning of the end of the Greek gods. For Socrates and his companions they were not so much false as irrelevant: It is as though, when the Olympians lose their connection with darker gods, they lose their force.
After all, if a god is thinkable, does he remain a god? The trial of Orestes also marks the apotheosis of the city, and of Athens in particular. Heracles, having killed his children in a fit of Hera-sent madness, wants only to kill himself, but his friend Theseus arrives on the scene to offer another way out.
Theseus suggests that absolution can replace destruction because friendship can replace family: The trial of Orestes suggests something similar: In a certain sense, the trial also represents a victory of thought over memory.
If speech first comes on the scene with Agamemnon, reason begins with Orestes: We can ask what he ought to have done. Thought gains primacy over the deed; Orestes can be wrested from the weight of his guilt and that of his ancestors through argument. If we can understand his act we can forget it, and allow him to do the same. And yet—the council is divided, and Apollo cannot absolve Orestes except by making nothing of motherhood. As Myrtilus died, he cursed Pelops and his line, further adding to the house's curse.
Depending on myth versions, they murdered Chrysippuswho was their half-brother. Because of the murder, Hippodamia, Atreus, and Thyestes were banished to Mycenaewhere Hippodamia is said to have hanged herself. Atreus vowed to sacrifice his best lamb to Artemis. Upon searching his flock, however, Atreus discovered a golden lamb which he gave to his wife, Aeropeto hide from the goddess. She gave it to Thyestes, her lover and Atreus' brother, who then convinced Atreus to agree that whoever had the lamb should be king.
Thyestes produced the lamb and claimed the throne. Atreus retook the throne using advice he received from Hermes. Thyestes agreed to give the kingdom back when the sun moved backwards in the sky, a feat that Zeus accomplished. Atreus retook the throne and banished Thyestes. Atreus then learned of Thyestes' and Aerope's adultery and plotted revenge. He killed Thyestes' sons and cooked them, save their hands and feet.
He tricked Thyestes into eating the flesh of his own sons and then taunted him with their hands and feet. Thyestes was forced into exile for eating the flesh of a human.
Thyestes responded by asking an oracle what to do, who advised him to have a son by his daughter, Pelopiawho would then kill Atreus. However, when Aegisthus was first born, he was abandoned by his mother who was ashamed of the incestuous act.
A shepherd found the infant Aegisthus and gave him to Atreus, who raised him as his own son. Only as he entered adulthood did Thyestes reveal the truth to Aegisthus, that he was both father and grandfather to the boy. Aegisthus then killed Atreus, although not before Atreus and Aerope had had two sons, Agamemnon and Menelausand a daughter Anaxibia.
Agamemnon married Clytemnestraand Menelaus married Helenher sister known later as Helen of Troy. Helen was taken away from Menelaus by Paris of Troy during a visit.
Menelaus then called on the chieftains to help him take back Helen. Agamemnon, Iphigenia, Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, Orestes and Electra[ edit ] Prior to sailing off to war against Troy, Agamemnon had angered the goddess Artemis because he had killed a sacred deer in a sacred grove, and had then boasted that he was a better hunter than she was. When the time came, Artemis stilled the winds so that Agamemnon's fleet could not sail.
A prophet named Calchas told him that in order to appease Artemis, Agamemnon would have to sacrifice the most precious thing that had come to his possession in the year he killed the sacred deer. This was his first-born daughter, Iphigenia.
He sent word home for her to come in some versions of the story on the pretense that she was to be married to Achilles. Iphigenia accepted her father's choice and was honored to be a part of the war.
Clytemnestra tried to stop Iphigenia but was sent away. After doing the deed, Agamemnon's fleet was able to get under way.