Death and Fate in Agamemnon

A creative response by Deb Mak, Dickson College, 2009

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Rationale

For my creative response, I chose to focus on the themes of death, fate and the struggles between Agamemnon and Clytemnestra.

The colours are representative of different themes throughout the play. The black represents death. The gold represents fate, and the will of the gods. The red represents betrayal and deceit, as well as death to some degree.

In the centre of the collage, there are four lions facing a gold crown on a red background. The lions are white and represent Agamemnon. I chose to use a lion because I believed it represents Agamemnon as a warrior king, since a lion is a majestic and ferocious animal. The lions are positioned around the crown to represent how Agamemnon is protective of his status as a King with extreme power, not unlike the gods. The background is red to show how Agamemnon is surrounded by death induced by Clytemnestra's betrayal, as his murder is being planned by Clytemnestra.

The red octagon is then surrounded by gold triangles to reinforce that Agamemnon's fate is already sealed by the gods, and is inevitable. These, in turn, are surrounded by black snakes. The snakes represent Clytemnestra, who is described as a snake by Cassandra:

It's outrageous - the woman kills her man. What shall I call her? What awful monster suits her? A snake?[1]

Clytemnestra is also represented as a black snake in comparison to Agamemnon's white lion. This is to show the contrast between the genders of the two characters, and also emphasises the portrayal of women in ancient Greek literature; that is, that they are always the undoing of men and are evil or driven to insanity.

The expanse surrounding the octagon has been divided into eight sections. Each of the sections represents a different aspect driving the murder of Agamemnon by Clytemnestra. The sections with sheep represent the sacrifice of Iphigeneia by Agamemnon. The sections with the red triangles with a white background represent Atreus' betrayal of his brother Thyestes. The white section with gold edging and text represents the will of the gods and the role of fate and prophecy in the play.

Firstly, I chose to use sheep to represent Iphigineia's sacrifice as sheep were commonly sacrificed in Greek literature (example: the death of Ajax), however it was immoral and cruel of Agamemnon to sacrifice his daughter merely for success in war. Essentially, he treated something precious as something ordinary, hence the representation of Iphigineia as a sheep rather than a young girl. The gold triangles represent the role of the gods in her sacrifice, as Artemis sent winds that prevented the Achaean fleet from sailing to Troy unless Agamemnon chose to sacrifice Iphigineia. Lastly, the background is black to represent death as a means to appease the gods.

The section which represents Atreus' betrayal of Thyestes is shown by a background of baby balloons covered by red triangles. The baby balloons represent Thyestes' children, and their innocence, similar to the innocence of a newborn child. The red represents death, and the triangles are here representative of teeth to emphasise how Thyestes ate his children unknowingly. The red represents Atreus' betrayal of his own brother, and the gold edging on one side shows how fate has made the conflict inevitable because of the family curse.

The white section with text represents the role of the gods and Cassandra in the play. The text is taken from the play itself, and all lines are related to the ultimate power of the gods and the inevitable fate that humans face at their mercy. For example:

If some ray of sunlight finds he's still alive, his vision still intact, thanks to Zeus, whose crafty plans at this point don't include destruction of the entire race, there's hope he'll soon come again.[2]

The last section, of a black background and a red triangular edging emphasises Agamemnon's death at the hands of his deceitful wife, and run through the centre of the collage to show that all reasoning inevitably leads to the same fate.

Deb Mak produced this creative piece in response to Agamemnon by Aeschylus, for assessment in the Classical Literature unit at Dickson College, Semester 2, 2009.

References


  1. ^ Line 1454 - 1458
  2. ^ Lines 811 - 815