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Dr J's Audio-Visual Resources for Classics

Courses Taught

INTELLECTUAL HERITAGE (at Temple University)

Course Info:
Sample Syllabus


Course Themes

Delphi- A Focal Point for IH 51 Texts

Writing Guides:
Writing Guidelines

style guide

Writing Analogies

Subject Study Aids:
Aeschylus' Agamemnon Study Guide

Aeschylus' Libation Bearers Study Guide

Aeschylus' Eumenides Passages

Sophocles' Oedipus and the Sphinx Lecture

Dr. J's Illustrated Pericles' Funeral Oration

Dr. J's Illustrated Pericles and America

Dr. J's Illustrated Pericles and Philadelphia

Dr. J's Illustrated Aeschylus' Oresteia

Dr. J's Curse of the House of Atreus Outline

Dr. J's Background Lecture on Greek Philosophy

Dr. J's Apology Study Questions

Dr. J's Illustrated Plato's Apology

Socrates and the Apology Lecture

Dr. J's Plutarch's Pericles

Judaism Study Guide

Sundiata Study Guide

Epic Qualities of the Sundiata Lecture

Othello Study Guide

Machiavelli Study Guide

Galileo and Humanism Lecture



Courses Proposed
(needs some pruning):

Topics in Classical Culture:
The Legend of the House of Atreus: Greek Tragedy in Greece

Religious Foundations of Greek Culture

The Intersection of Myth and History

The Ancient Greek Cultural Nexus- Art, Archaeology, Literature and Topography

From 1996-2001 I taught in the Intellectual Heritage Program at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This page is part of my teaching materials for Intellectual Heritage 51, a course covering literature and ideas from Sappho through Shakespeare...

Dr. J's Aeschylus' Agamemnon Outline and Passages

The summary below has been tailored to match the line numbers in Robert Fagles’ translation of Aeschylus’ Oresteia. The line numbers are slightly different than in the original Greek text.

Prologue 1-43

Sentry finally sees signal fire signaling the end of the Trojan War

Parados 44-258

Chorus (old men of Argos) gives essential background about the cause and misery of the Trojan War, and reveals real fear about what Clytemnestra has in store for the returning Agamemnon (specific reference to the sacrifice of Iphigenia).

Episode I 258-356

Dialogue between Chorus Leader and Clytemnestra: the chorus does not trust that Clytemnestra has good information about a Greek victory.

Stasimon I 356-492

Chorus praises the gods, discusses political unrest in Argos.

Episode II 493-682

Herald reports to Chorus that the Greeks have won. Herald praises the gods and speaks of the horrors of war. Clytemnestra enters briefly to say "I told you so" to the Chorus and to announce that she will welcome Agamemnon. Exit  Clytemnestra.

Stasimon II 683-794

Chorus considers the tragedy of the feud.

Episode III 795-976

Agamemnon addresses the Chorus: he thanks the gods. Clytemnestra addresses the Chorus in Agamemnon's presence: she speaks of the hardship she endured waiting for news of Agamemnon all these years.

She then addresses Agamemnon, giving a speech renowned for its double-edged meaning and lots of veiled references to the child he killed. She has her servants lay out red carpets for Agamemnon, also with a double meaning. He orders Cassandra to be given hospitality. Clytemnestra and Agamemnon enter the palace.

Stasimon III 977-1031

Chorus reflects on an unnamed terror they feel.

Episode IV 1032-1068

Clytemnestra reappears and asks Cassandra inside. Cassandra does not move, and Clytemnestra, angry, stomps inside.

Kommos 1069-1354

Cassandra reveals to the Chorus all that will happen inside the house, as well as knowledge of the past (Curse of the House of Atreus) and future (the vengeance of Orestes). A priestess of Apollo, she appears practically possessed as her speech goes on. The Chorus cannot understand that she means that Clytemnestra, a woman, will be Agamemnon's murderer. She enters the house to go to her doom.

Stasimon IV 1355-1368

Chorus expounds on the evils of power. They identify Agamemnon as the recipient of his father’s curse and bemoan the cycle of vengeance that will cause his death too to be avenged.

Episode V 1369-1475

The Chorus running in all different directions represents the political unrest caused by these events. Clytemnestra reveals the body of Agamemnon, recounts the murder and explains why she had a right to kill him.

Exodus 1476-1708

Aegisthus gives his story of vengeance, the child-feast that is part of the Curse of the House of Atreus. Clytemnestra stops the fight between the Chorus and Aegisthus and his men, claiming that the cycle has come to an end. No more killing.

In 1588-1594 the Chorus explains the problem with the Mycenean system of justice. But the Chorus has already suggested that Orestes should avenge the murder. The play ends with Aegisthus and Clytemnestra as King and Queen of Mycenae.

Significant Quotations/Passages The Agamemnon

'Obey, obey, or a heavy doom will crush me! - /Oh but doom will crush me/once I rend my child,/the glory of my house - /a father's hands are stained,/blood of a young girl streaks the altar./Pain both ways and what is worse?' The Chorus quoting Agamemnon, (Ag. 206-212)

Tell him that, and have him come with speed,/the people's darling - how they long for him. And for his wife,/may he return and find her true at hall,/just as the day he left her, faithful to the last. Clytemnestra (Ag. 599-604)

Let the red stream flow and bear him home/to the home he never hoped to see - Justice,/lead him in! Leave all the rest to me./The spirit within me never yields to sleep. We will set things right, with the god's help./We will do whatever Fate requires.

Clytemnestra (Ag. 901-907)

No...the house that hates god,/ an echoing womb of guilt, kinsmen/torturing kinsmen,, severed heads,/ slaughterhouse of heroes, soil streaming blood -  Cassandra (Ag. 1088-1091)

Once I betrayed him I could never be believed. Cassandra (Ag. 1218)

We will die,/ but not without some honor from the gods./ There will come another to avenge us, born to kill his mother, born/his father's champion. A wanderer, a fugitive/driven off his native land, he will come home/to cope the stones of hate that menace all he loves./ The gods have drawn a monumental oath: as his father lies/upon the ground he draws him home with power like a prayer. Cassandra (Ag. 1300-1308)

And now you sentence me? - /you banish me from the city, curses breathing/down my neck? But he - /name one charge you brought against him then./ He thought no more of it than killing a beast,/and his flocks were rich, teeming in their fleece,/but he sacrificed his own child, our daughter,/the agony I labored into love/to charm away the savage winds of Thrace. Clytemnestra (Ag. 1436-1444)

No slave's death, I think -/no stealthier than the death he dealt/our house and the offspring of our loins,/Iphigenia, girl of tears./ Act for act, wound for wound! Clytemnestra (Ag. 1551-1555)

Let them howl - they're impotent. You and I have power now./We will set the house in order once for all. Clytemnestra (Ag. 1707-8)

copyright 2001 Janice Siegel, All Rights Reserved
send comments to: Janice Siegel (jfsiege@ilstu.edu)

date this page was edited last: 10/25/2005
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