Justice and vengeance: The main theme of the Agamemnon is rather a dilemma then any postive message.The short version is,justice will be done,those who transgress will suffer,but woe be to those who carry out that justice by taking vengeance_they will,almost inevitably,transgress in their turn,and so they will have to suffer.Yet the taking of vengeance seems to be the only way that justice can be done. The dilamma seems hopeless.The chorus sang early in the play,in what is known as the hymmn to zeus,that zeus is somehow the answer,that he has ordained that men shall learn from suffering(lines176_178),but there is no indication in this play that they have learned anything.It is true that the chorus,and presumably the audience,have had their faith confirmed that the gods do care about whatmortals do,and that they strike men down,not beacuse they are jealous of their prosperity,as was the common belief,but beacuse they or their fathers have violated justice.The chorus underline this message again and again(for example,in 367_372), most strikingly when they speak of themselves as"apart from others,alone in thought"9756)in traching disaster,not to good fortune in a family,but to injustice in a family.(It was not actually a new massage in Athens,but perhaps the older belief still had many adherents).The difficulty is that they see this justice in the fall of Troy,yetin the way the war was carried out they see inhumanity and justice. Sostrong is this theme that it would bequite possible to do the Agamemnon as an antiwar play,though probably Aeschylus intented no more that a warning that the excuse of a just war must not be used to justify the excating of a double penalty by the victors.As the discussion of the imagery of the play makes clear,Aeschylus suggests again and again that Agamemnon has forgotten the need to treat other human beings with humantiy and to rever thegods:he has become a Fury in his quest for justice.The same is true for Clytemnestra,as her delight in the killing of cysandra makes clear even to a modern audience.
" ThE THEME OF JUSTICE"
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