n Ekklesiastikos Pharos - Monstrous motherhood and its mythological antecedents - Clytemnestra in




In the first play of Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy, Clytemnestra is identified with aspects of the monstrous feminine. But while Agamemnon treats Clytemnestra's hostility to her husband, Libation Bearers treats her hostility towards her children and enlarges the portrayal of Clytemnestra as a monstrous mother figure. In this way the trilogy reveals first the Bad Wife, second the Bad Mother and finally, in the last play, the woman as supernatural horror who hounds from beyond the grave. In Agamemnon, the image of Clytemnestra as monster is introduced by Cassandra. The earlier allusions to Clytemnestra as a serpentine monster are clarified in this second play as the figure of the Bad Mother emerges displaying aspects of the Gorgon figure of myth - the female monster that must be slain by the young male hero. This article examines the portrayal of Clytemnestra as the archetypal Bad Mother in Libation Bearers in general and how lines 594-638, in particular, serve as a culmination or enforcement of portraiture linking her to number of pre-existent mythical archetypes.


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