Example of a Critical essay on Literature about:
agamemnon / homer / iliad / ancient greek / king / selfishness / arrogance
Title: Agamemnon, the selfish, arrogant and versatile King
In Homer’s classics Iliad, the son of Atreus and the brother of Menelaus, Agamemnon was the king of Mycenae and led Greek forces in the Trojan War.
The controversial issue raised by historians and critics is the extent of guilt ascribed to Agamemnon’s deeds and character. As well as this, it is rather interesting to investigate whether Homer himself provided us with an accurate account of Agamemnon’s character in his classical work.
Homer presents as the character of Agamemnon a man empowered with virtually unlimited and enormous power as well as a rather powerful social position in the then society. However, his personal features did not deserve such a high status. Homer's Agamemnon made most of his decisions while ruled by over-wrought emotions.
Overall, Homer's Agamemnon represents a deeply flawed character overwhelmed by inner desires and emotions. His authoritative position was always predetermined by personal whims as well as individual needs which were put atop of the genuine community interests. Such was the main controversy masterly depicted by Homer.
On the one hand, Agamemnon appears before us as a highly accomplished warrior, though as a king he often demonstrates the features incompatible with the ideals of true kingship. These are namely: cowardice, stubbornness, as well as childishness and immaturity. All these personal disadvantages mixed with selfishness, arrogance and versatility make the epical character of Agamemnon as person that is righteous to an extent though morally flawed.
Furthermore, one of the main negative features spotted by Homer throughout The Iliad is that Agamemnon fails to make conclusions and learn from his enormous mistakes.
That is why Homer’s character enormously falls throughout the epic.
Right from the beginning, the character of Agamemnon appears as a courageous and great warrior that heroically destroyed the powerful army as well as Troy. However, initially we get to know Agamemnon as a person who changed the winds to get to Troy at the cost of the sacrifice of his own daughter Iphigenia.
Herewith, two opposing features evolve inside a single man - an ambitious and virtuous, or guilty and cruel character. For the sake of his selfish ambitions and revenge for Paris’ crime, he decides to commit further horrible crime and sacrifice Iphigenia. Reasonably this was done for the sake of the state and victory of the Greek army, and therefore deemed by many as a righteous act.
However, from the point of moral assumptions Agamemnon’s justification was apparently erroneous, rather flawed and wrong action. His personal ambitions overtopped the vital principles of humanity, love and devotion. Entirely virtuous as he was, Agamemnon could make no other decision than sacrifice his own daughter and fight the city of Troy.
Later on, Homer illustrates the inner moral dilemma experienced by Agamemnon and expressed through his confessions: “What do I become - a monster to me, to the whole world, and to all future time, a monster, wearing my daughter’s blood?”
Another flawed expression of Agamemnon is depicted through his arrogant and disrespectful attitude towards his wife. Utter infidelity and ignorance is seen in Agamemnon’s disrespectful and rather condemned words to her. His dishonourable actions led to her embarrassment in front of the chorus as well as before his new mistress, Cassandra. Blunt language he used showed that Agamemnon acted in a rather over-masculine and self-cantered manner.
Homer, The Iliad, Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition
Essay about Agamemnon
742 Words3 Pages
In Aeschylus’ Agamemnon there are many different opinions about what kind of king and commander Agamemnon was. Some argued that he was good, while others dispute that his motives were wrong. Clytemnestra, Agamemnon’s wife, gained a strong hatred for him, after he sacrificed his own daughter so he could go to war. Many believe that this was not necessary and could have been overcome. The chorus seems to agree with this to an extent, and feels that Agamemnon could have prayed and requested that he not sacrifice his daughter.
Clytemnestra, after Agamemnon was at war for a few years, began to cheat on Agamemnon with his cousin, Aegisthus. When the two got word of Agamemnon’s return from Troy they began to plot…show more content…
Then, contradicting what he said, he walks on the carpet. Clytemnestra knew he was very proud, and knew that he would walk on the carpet if provoked. She knew that by saying “If Priam had won as you have, what would he have done?”(935) would cause Agamemnon to commit an ultimate act of hubris, an act of mortal pride or arrogance.
Clytemnestra knew that Agamemnon was a very weak person and could easily be provoked into doing wrong. The Chorus, made up of mainly older, more respected men in Argos, didn’t know Agamemnon as well. They seemed to focus on the fact that Agamemnon was able to sacrifice his daughter without a second thought as to whether the prophecy was right or wrong. Many of them seemed to think that it was a selfish act, and that it could have been prevented. Aeschylus seems to express through the chorus that he himself felt that Agamemnon was wrong in his decision to kill his daughter for the sake of war, he wrote “her supplications and her cries of father / were nothing, nor the child’s lamentation / to kings passioned for battle” (228-230). This shows that it was a self-centered act to sacrifice his daughter for battle.
Although Agamemnon seemed to be very self-centered according to Clytemnestra and the chorus, he seemed to be very respectable to other warriors. Because he was a king he already had much prestige and with him being the commander of the Greek armies while