He was the son of Atreus and Aerope, the brother of Menelaus, the spouse of Clytaemnestra, and the father of Electra, Iphigenia, Chrysothemis, and Orestes. When Menelaus's wife, Helen, was abducted by the Trojan prince Paris, Agamemnon commanded an army of Greek warriors with Menelaus that invaded Troy, as told in the Iliad.
After a decade of fighting in Troy, Agamemnon returned home and was murdered by Clytemnastra and her new lover, Aegisthus, his cousin and the killer of Atreus. Some versions of the myth say that Clytemnastra or Aegisthus solely killed him while in another they both do the killing.
Atreus, the father of Agamemnon, murdered the children of his twin brother Thyestes and fed them to him after discovering Thyestes' adultery with his wife, Aerope. Thyestes and his daughter had a child named Aegisthus. He vowed revenge on Atreus' children and successfully murdered Atreus restoring his father's rule. He took the throne and ruled Mycenae with Thyestes. Agamemnon and his brother, Menelaus, took refuge with the King of Sparta, Tyndareus. They respectively married Tyndareus' daughters, Clytemnastra and Helen. Agamemnon had his four children, Orestes, Electra, Iphigenia, and Chrysothemis, with Clytemnastra. After Tyndareus, Menelaus took control of the Spartan throne while Agamemnon had successfully drove out Aegisthus and Thyestes with Menelaus's help. He reclaimed his father's throne and, through conquest, had become the most powerful Greek ruler.
Agamemnon's family history had been marred by rape, murder, incest, and treachery, consequences of the heinous crime perpetrated by their ancestor, Tantalus, and then of a curse placed upon Pelops, son of Tantalus, by Myrtilus, whom he had murdered. Thus misfortune hounded successive generations of the House of Atreus , until atoned by Orestes in a court of justice held jointly by humans and gods.
When Paris of Troy took Helen back to Troy with him, Menelaus sought Agamemnon's help in retrieving her. Agamemnon, who wanted to conqueror Troy, lead a coalition of Greek kingdoms to attack Troy.
Preparing for departure from Aulis, a port in Boeotia, Agamemnon's army incurred the wrath of the goddess Artemis. There are several reasons for this: Artemis is angry for the young men who will die at war in Troy, Artemis is angry due to Agamemnon slaying a sacred animal of Artemis, or that he boasted that he was equal in hunting. Plague and a lack of wind prevented his army from sailing. Eventually, the prophet Calchas says that the sacrifice of his daughter, Iphigenia, will allow him to sail for Troy. Agamemnon, in some versions, willingly sacrifices his daughter and sets sail; whereas in other versions, prepares to sacrifice Iphigenia, but Artemis replaces her with a deer at the last minute. In the latter, she is said to have been whisked away to Taurus in Crimea where she became the goddess Hecate, according to the Greek writer Hesiod.
Agamemnon was the commander-in-chief of the Achaean (Greek) army during the Trojan War. During the fighting, Agamemnon killed Antiphus, a son of Priam, and 15 other Trojan soldiers. Agamemnon's teamster, Halaesus, later fought with the significant early "Roman" founder Aeneas in Italy. The Iliad tells os the story of the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles in the tenth and last year of the war. Agamemnon took an attractive slave, as a prize, Briseis, from Achilles. Achilles, the greatest warrior of the age, withdrew from battle in revenge and nearly cost the Greek armies the war. (Later however Achilles returned when Patroclus his friend had died wearing Achilles' armor.)
Although not the equal of Achilles in bravery, Agamemnon was a representative of kingly authority. As commander-in-chief, he summoned the princes to the council and led the army in battle. He took the field himself, and performed many heroic deeds until he was wounded and forced to withdraw to his tent. His chief fault was his overwhelming haughtiness; an over-exalted opinion of his position that led him to insult Chryses and Achilles, thereby bringing great disaster upon the Greeks.
Agamemnon was afterwards slain by Clytaemnestra and her lover, Agisthos, in Argos after his grand return from Troy, in his house. He later was avenged by his son Orestês who, with the help of Electra, killed their mother and Aegisthus.
He appears later as a shade in the Land of the Dead where Odysseus comes to in the Odyssey, and warns Odysseus likewise to not create a big show on his own return to Ithaca, telling him that wives of the Achaeans can't be trusted, for fear that Penelopê his wife might have turned against Odysseus during the twenty years of him being gone at Troy and would slay him as Clytaemnestra did to Agamemnon. Odysseus took this advice.
Aegisthus (First Rule)
|King of Mycenae
Aegisthus (Second Rule)