Aeschylus: The Trojan War

The reason the ten year long Trojan War was started is minuscule compared to the effects and consequences of it.  Paris, son of the king of Troy, stole the wife of Agamemnon’s brother.  Wanting to defend Helen (the wife), Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus launched a fleet of ships to attack Troy.  The winds were controlled by Artemis who directed them against the fleet.  To satisfy Artemis, Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia.  This was successful and Artemis reversed the winds in favor of the attackers.

The gods of Olympus took sides on the war.  According to Aeschylus, Ares, Artemis, Aphrodite, and Apollo were sided with the Trojans.  Athena, Poseidon, Hermes, and Hephaestus were among those who supported the Greeks.  With the gods divided, the war balanced out into a stalemate for ten years. The women of Greece supposed that the men had surely captured women during the war.  Aeschylus hinted about the situation and how they felt about this.  He himself had a negative opinion about the whole war altogether.

Many heroes fell,  of these were Achilles and Hector.  Blood and death continued until Odysseus devised a plan to trick the Trojans.  The Greeks built a huge wooden horse, an animal sacred to the Trojans.  The plan ended up the deciding factor in the war.  The Trojans brought it into the city thinking the war was over.  Greeks poured out of it and ensued in a fierce battle eventually coming out victorious.

Though the Greeks had won the war, they also suffered heavy losses.  As the fleet returned home most of it was destroyed and many men rested in a watery grave.  Agamemnon came back to his palace only to be deceived and murdered by his wife, Clytaemnestra.  She was furious at her husband for sacrificing their daughter and meant to repay the deed.  Clytaemnestra bragged of their wealth and urged her husband to walk across expensive tapestries leading into the palace.  She was successful after a little resistance from Agamemnon.  When they entered the palace, Cassandra, a prophetess cursed by Apollo to never be believed, and who had been brought back by Agamemnon, foretold his death as it took place.

Greece, known as a warlike power, had fought hard and long in a grueling struggle that claimed many lives.  Aeschylus makes no mention of the glories of war and how the fallen will be remembered in legend.  He seemed to have thought badly of war unlike the culture of Greece which praises it.  Though the victory was handed to Greece, the after effect was downcast as the ashes of recovered soldiers were given to their families.

Vengeance was inevitable for the house of Atreus.  Clytaemnestra blamed the spirit of revenge.  Orestes, Agamemnon’s son, was held by the chorus to get revenge on the murderess.  She called for no more bloodshed.  But such isn’t the way of the Furies.  One act of wrong is always avenged by someone else, and they avenger will be revenged on.


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