Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ancient Greece: The Lifetime Movie

This tragedy was my introduction to Greek Drama and what an introduction it was. I would like to say that I experienced it as a great emotion evoking work that influenced Western Literature but really, its overarching theme to me was that Clytemnestra hereafter Clyty was a bad bitch. And I mean that in a good way. A really good way.

*I am using the Lattimore University of Chicago edition because I already had it. It's pretty sweet.

So far Mia has set the scene, Agamemnon, the conquering hero has returned from Troy to his patient She, La Clyty. She has laid in wait for him and kills him. This has the women's movie channel written all over it.
The imagery is evocative and beautiful, you can almost see the lights as they ignite one by one across the mountain side bringing the news of the destruction of that once great walled city.

"Oh hail blaze of darkness, harbinger of days shining"

*nerd aside* Read the Iliad for that destruction tale. PS Hector and Andromache at the gate is a tearjerker.

Anyway, as Mia hinted at in her post, the nature of female agency in this play is an issue. Are they only to be pawns or can they stab life in the heart?
Clyty who is described as having "a male's strength of heart" takes the latter route. Agamemnon may be her husband but he killed her daughter; so he could swan off to war and kill more people (#occupyArgos). Aggy trampled the inviolable and dared too much.
His number had been called the minute he sacrificed Iphigenia. The first scenes of the play laid out the sacrilegiousness of his crimes.
So she busts a cap in his posterior. You go girl!

As to Helen's agency, how much does she really have if she was goddess-spelled? Agency in the context of gods' power is a fascination for the ancient tragedians. Aeschylus tends to come down on the side of very little agency. We are as ants.

Mia, does Clyty need to ascend to the halls of Valhalla? (if I may mix mythologies). Or is she on the highway to hell?

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