n Ekklesiastikos Pharos - Clytemnestra - "the monumental androgynous figure of "

Volume 91, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1018-9556



Extracted from a larger study on the women in Aeschylus' Oresteia in which a connection is postulated between the female characters of Aeschylus' drama, and the mythical archetypes of women found in myth, this article examines Clytemnestra as the archetypal Bad Wife in Agamemnon. Zeus' marriage to Hera, for example, reflects a level of resistance, on the part of the wife, to the policy of absolute control imposed by the husband. The hostile marital relationship between the king and queen of the gods provides the model for many a rebellious, dangerous or hostile wife in Greek mythology and thus the literary archetype of the Bad Wife emerges. Helen and Clytemnestra exemplify the category of Bad Wives, in that they both sever the bonds of their marriages in committing acts of adultery. This article examines Clytemnestra in Agamemnon, showing how Aeschylus, in his depiction, borrows from a number of negative female archetypes from the mythological corpus: the Wrathful Demeter who plots revenge against her husband for the loss of her child; and the Amazon who blatantly rejects patriarchal marriage and its strictures of feminine subjugation with disastrous results for the male protagonists in the drama.

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