[[caption-width-right:231: Golden Mask from Mycene, known as the "Mask of Agamemnon"]]

->"''I say Agamemnon shall lie dead before your eyes.''"
-->-- '''Cassandra'''

The ancient Greek play ''Agamemnon'' is the first of a series of [[{{Tragedy}} tragedies]] in the trilogy ''Theatre/TheOresteia'' by Creator/{{Aeschylus}}.

Agamemnon himself is the King of Argos, who is returning home from the UsefulNotes/TheTrojanWar after enslaving Cassandra, the daughter of the Trojan king, Priam. Cassandra is forced into being his [[{{UnusualEuphemism}} concubine]]. Much to the distress of his wife, Clytemnestra, he finally returns home and she welcomes him back as if nothing is wrong, but she is unable to keep the bitterness out of her tone when she speaks of how long he had been gone. Stringing out [[{{False Reassurance}} extravagant tales of how much she missed him]], in an attempt to make him feel uneasy and guilt stricken, she then orders maids to retrieve a purple cloth from his chariot, and spread it on the palace floor beneath his feet. But Agamemnon refuses to step on it.

When Clytemnestra speaks to him later she tries to convince him to walk on the purple carpet, comparing it to the sea. However, to her the carpet is [[{{RuleofSymbolism}} symbolic]]. The 'Sea' she speaks of is the family feud, and the 'purple dye' is blood shed for revenge.[[labelnote:*]]literally—the Greeks would use the blood of crushed snails to create purple dye; thus, Agamemnon would lead himself to his own death by walking on a path of blood! Clever girl.[[/labelnote]] She continues to speak in [[{{Foreshadowing}} thinly veiled metaphors]] of his impending fate, however Agamemnon [[{{GenreBlind}} never catches on.]] He finally re-enters the palace after much berating from Clytemnestra, when he is out of sight she then utters a terrifying cry of triumph that her plan is coming together. She quickly gives a prayer to Zeus so that her vendetta goes off without a hitch, and she follows him. She had been planning her husband's murder in the ten year long absence he was fighting in the war, during which she was having an affair with his cousin Aegisthus, who believes himself to be the rightful ruler. Clytemnestra is also vengeful against her husband for sacrificing their daughter Iphigenia.

Meanwhile we learn that Cassandra became possessed by the god Apollo, who gifted Cassandra with the power of clairvoyance so that she can foresee future events, after she promised to return his love. But when she broke her promise, Apollo cursed her so that [[{{CassandraTruth}} no one who hears her prophesies will believe them until it's too late.]]

Cassandra has a vision of the walls of the palace dripping blood, Agamemnon's dead body and a sword in Clytemnestra's grasp. She also sees her own dead body lying still beside the king. She tries to warn the Elders of this horrible prophecy, but they are unable to understand what she's saying. Cassandra resigns to her fate, prays that she is given a quick death and enters the palace. Soon after the death-shriek of the king is heard; the Elders debate rapidly what to do; and the palace doors open to reveal Clytemnestra and the bleeding corpses of Cassandra and Agamemnon. Even though the Elders know that they should condemn Clytemnestra for her actions, the situation of her grief and suffering for years are making them unsure.

Aegisthus arrives to the scene and offers thanks to the gods. He is described by the Elders as a coward who refused to serve in the war, a lecher who seduced the king's wife in order to steal the throne back. However, he tells the horrifying story of what Agamemnon's father, Atreus, did to his father Thyestes, we realize that the same obligation which drove him to plot vengeance on the son of Atreus is exactly the same as that which now lies upon Orestes.

Aeschylus does not praise or excuse Aegisthus; but his insistence on presenting his case fairly ensures that the urgency of the central theme: What is justice? This is further heightened by the closing scene of the play.

Challenged by the Elders, Aegisthus makes a show of force; Clytemnestra pleads for restraint; and the Elders withdraw, shouting threats and defiance.
!!''Agamemnon'' provides examples of:

* AssholeVictim: Agamemnon.
* BecauseDestinySaysSo: Agamemnon sacrificed Iphigenia because of this, and Cassandra rushes to her death at the hands of Clytemnestra since it's useless to delay it.
* BigScrewedUpFamily: The fourth and fifth of five messed-up generations.
* BystanderSyndrome: Agamemnon cries for help from inside the palace (i.e. off-screen). The Chorus reacts thus.
* TheCassandra: [[{{ShapedLikeItself}} Literally.]]
* CassandraTruth: The original one, since it comes from the TropeNamer.
%%* Myth/ClassicalMythology
* DeathOfTheOldGods: The Chorus describes how Ouranos was defeated by Kronos, and Kronos in turn was defeated by Zeus.
* DueToTheDead: It's a big deal that the bodies of some Greek soldiers were left in Troy without a proper burial.
* {{Doublespeak}}: Many of Clytemnestra's speeches have double meanings.
* DownerEnding: It ends with both Agamemnon and Cassandra dead.
* FaceDeathWithDignity: What Cassandra decides to do, since it was foreseen anyway.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Mainly done by the Chorus and Cassandra. Not only does she foresee Agamemnon's and her own demise, she also predicts the events of ''Theatre/TheLibationBearers'' which is Orestes' vengeance upon Clytemnestra.
* GreekChorus: This is basically the role of the Eldest of Argos in the story.
* GodSaveUsFromTheQueen: Clytemnestra, though she's not explicitly a bad ruler, the Elders just don't like her because she's too crafty for their liking. And, well, a woman.
* HeWhoFightsMonsters: Two in the backstory: Thyestes, who was [[MoralEventHorizon tricked by his brother Atreus into eating his own sons]], has raped his own daughter in order to raise a son who would kill Atreus. Furthermore, his son/grandson Aegisthos was raised as a weapon of vengeance, so it's not surprising he became an unpleasant character himself.
* HistoricalFantasy: Archaeologists have found there was a real Agamemnon. Whether he was killed by his cousin and avenged by his children (as well as whether Atreus was as evil as depicted in Myth/ClassicalMythology or subjected to a HistoricalVillainUpgrade) cannot be known.
* HostileWeather: The Greek fleet is plagued by storms.
* IWillWaitForYou: What Agamemnon expected from Clytemnestra. She didn't.
* KeepTheHomeFiresBurning: The play as a whole shows how this can go wrong, since after being left at home Clytemnestra was left to wallow in her hatred of her husband and had time to plot his murder and take his cousin as her lover.
* {{Misblamed}}: A footnote in one translation notes that the Chorus does this to Helen, claiming that she was ultimately responsible for the war.
* MrExposition: The Watchman and Cassandra herself as she starts narrating the story of Agamemnon's ancestors.
* OffingTheOffspring: Agamemnon's sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia before he left for Troy is part of the reason Clytemnestra plots his murder, especially since he tricked Clytemnestra into sending their daughter to him under the pretext of marrying her to Achilles and only revealed his true intentions once it was too late.
* TheOphelia: Subverted. The Elders ''think'' Cassandra is one of these and treat her as a madwoman at first, but then she starts talking about the RoyallyScrewedUp story of Argos as if she had been there...
* NobleBirdOfPrey: Bird symbolism is used throughout the play.
* {{Pride}}: Agamemnon. Clytemnestra encourages him to commit hubris, but he could have said no.
* PsychicPowers: Cassandra's clairvoyance, given to her by Apollo.
* RoyallyScrewedUp: The Atreides were the poster guys of this trope in Myth/ClassicalMythology. All the madness started with Tantalus [[OffingTheOffspring serving his own son]] [[IAteWhat to the gods]] to prove they're not omniscient, continued with the feud between brothers [[CainAndAbel Atreus and Thyestes]], and know the feud continues with their respective sons Agamemnon and Aegisthus.
* SecondaryCharacterTitle: Despite being the character of the title, Agamemnon isn't given much action (aside from his murder) and the true protagonists is Clytemnestra.
* SecondHandStorytelling: The GreekChorus and Cassandra are the main source of the antecedents.
* StrawFeminist: A possible interpretation of Clytemnestra's character.
* SkepticismFailure: Happens to everyone who hears Cassandra's claims (not by their own fault though, but because of the curse Apollo placed on her).
* SoundtrackDissonance: According to {{Creator/Aristophanes}}. "Phlattothrattophlattothrat..."
%%* {{Tragedy}}
* VirginSacrifice: Agamemnon kills one of his daughters, Iphigenia, for a favorable wind in order to go to war.
* YouCantFightFate: Clytemnestra's justification for her actions. Once Agamemnon killed their daughter, he sealed his own fate.
* YourCheatingHeart: Clytemnestra cheats on Agamemnon with his cousin Aegisthus, while Agamemnon himself has taken Cassandra as his concubine, [[DoubleStandard but guess which adulterer is treated less sympathetically]].