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Clytemnestra (Eng. /klaɪtəm'nɛstɹə/ Greek: Κλυταιμνήστρα Klytaimnéstra, "praiseworthy wooing") was the wife of Agamemnon, king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Mycenae or Argos. She was the daughter of Tyndareus and Leda and mother of Iphigeneia, Orestes, Chrysothemis and Electra. In Greek mythology, she was also believed to have been born of a union between Zeus and Leda, the former having wooed the latter in the guise of a swan. According to legend, following her union with the Olympian, Leda laid two eggs, Castor and Polydeuces (the Dioscuri, also known as the constellation Gemini) were hatched from one, and Helen (later of Troy) and Clytemnestra from the other. Agamemnon was actually Clytemnestra's second husband; her first husband was Tantalus, King of Pisa (in the western Peloponnesus), who was slain by Agamemnon, who then made Clytemnestra his wife. (Like Agamemnon, this Tantalus was a descendant of the more famous Tantalus, who ruled in Anatolia).

Agamemnon followed his brother Menelaus after Menelaus' wife Helen was stolen by Paris, thus igniting the Trojan War.

While Agamemnon was away, Clytemnestra weakened her resolve and began a torrid love affair with Aegisthus, her husband's kinsman (daughter with Aegisthus: Erigone). She was bitter towards her absent husband for having sacrificed their daughter, Iphigeneia, to Artemis.

At the end of the ten year war, Agamemnon returned to Mycenae where his kinsman, Aegisthus (who had previously murdered Agamemnon's father) invited him to a banquet where Agamemnon was treacherously slain. Princess Cassandra of Troy, who had been brought back by Agamemnon as a war trophy, was also put to death by Clytemnestra. According to the account given by Pindar and the tragedians, Agamemnon was slain by his wife alone in a bath, a piece of cloth or a net having first been thrown over him to prevent resistance. According to Aeschylus, Clytemnestra placed a piece of purple cloth and asked the returning Agamemnon to step over it. He refused at first but then gave in, while Cassandra, who had been endowed with the gift of prophecy but with the curse of no one believing her, waited outside, knowing doom awaited. She stayed outside until she heard Agamemnon scream as he died, then ran inside and was killed by Clytemnestra. Clytemnestra's wrath at the sacrifice of their daughter Iphigeneia, and her jealousy of Cassandra, are said to have been the motives of her crime. The murder of Agamemnon was avenged by his son Orestes (as told in the famous trilogy The Oresteia).

According to some sources, Cassandra was not murdered along with Agamemnon. Some sources see her leaving Mycenae unharmed. We even have historical reason to believe that she survived: in an Athenian museum, we have a plate with an inscribed text, which speaks of the Zakynthian family, descendants since 30 generations of Cassandra of Troy.

She is also the half sister of Helen. The reason she is the half sister of Helen is because according to legend Zeus appeared to Leda as a swan and raped her. That same night Leda had sex with Tyndareus and fell pregnant. Leda gave birth to four children, in some versions she laid four eggs. Clytemnestra and Castor were born of Tyndareus and therefore his children and mortal. Helen and Polydeuces where born of Zeus and therefore his children and they became immortal.

She was first married to Tantalus son of the king of Mycenae Thyestes before she married Agamemnon and before he took the throne of Mycenae. The way he became the king of Argos was he killed Tantalus and because Thyestes had no more heirs to the throne, Agamemnon took the throne for himself. Both Agamemnon and Clytemnestra had four children Chrysothemis, Iphigenia, Orestes and Electra who become famous and important characters in the play Electra.

Both the characters of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra become important characters in the play, “Agamemnon.” It starts off when Agamemnon goes to Troy with his brother Menelaus after his wife, Helen was stolen from him by Paris the prince of Troy. The prophet of the Greek army, Calchas said that a sacrifice was required to Artemis to calm the winds so they can set sail for Troy. But instead of sacrificing an animal, Agamemnon had his daughter, Iphigenia sacrificed. While Agamemnon was away at Troy, Clytemnestra was having an affair with Aegisthus, son of Thyestes and they planned together how to kill Agamemnon on his return from the war at Troy. She would know he was on his way home because she had a beacon system from Troy all the way to Mycenae to say that Agamemnon was on his way home from Troy. This is just simply a system by which a message could be sent without the need of the message in written form and a messenger. These beacons are like big bonfires where there placed on high grounds such as hills and mountains and when the first beacon is lit, then next would light and so on and so on until it reaches the end where the recipient would receive the message. As this regarding the story of Agamemnon, the message to Clytemnestra is the news Agamemnon is on his way home

After a long ten years fighting in Troy, Agamemnon returned and returned with Cassandra. Cassandra was a princess of Troy who had the power to see the future however no one would believe her; Apollo wanted to sleep with her and bestowed on her the gift of foresight, but she refused him and so Apollo cursed her, saying that she would have the power to see into the future but wouldn’t be believed. When Agamemnon had arrived at the palace, Clytemnestra wanted Agamemnon to walk on a cloth which is a Middle Eastern tradition for kings to walk on the cloth and it is considered blasphemy. After his reluctance, he walked on the cloth.

Cassandra stayed in the chariot where she had a series of visions about the death of herself and the death of Agamemnon. There are two different accounts of who killed Agamemnon and Cassandra. In some versions it was Aegisthus who did it and in others it was Clytemnestra.

In both cases, Agamemnon and Cassandra were killed and Aegisthus and Clytemnestra became the king and queen of Mycenae. The next time we see Clytemnestra is in the play “Electra” by Sophocles. In this play we see that Electra and her brother Orestes hatch a plan to kill their mother and step father. During this play we see Clytemnestra treat Electra very badly, almost like a slave or a beggar because she was still grieving at the death of her father. Clytemnestra was glad to hear the news that Orestes, the son of her and Agamemnon, was dead. Although this is a ploy to lead her into a false security that her son was dead which was part of his plan to kill her.

Orestes and his friend Pylades enter and they kill Clytemnestra. Aegisthus is out at this time so he doesn’t know what is happening so before he returns, they cover the body of Clytemnestra under a sheet and present to Aegisthus the apparent dead corpse of Orestes. When he pulls back the sheet, he realises that it is Clytemnestra and Orestes reveals his identity to Aegisthus. In Sophocles’ version of Electra, Aegisthus is guided off stage to the hearth where he is to be killed, just like hisКлитемнестра ca:Clitemnestra de:Klytaimnestra el:Κλυταιμνήστρα es:Clitemnestra fr:Clytemnestre it:Clitennestra lt:Klitemnestra nl:Klytaimnestra ja:クリュタイムネストラ pl:Klitajmestra pt:Clitemnestra ru:Клитемнестра simple:Clytemnestra fi:Klytaimestra sv:Klytaimnestra zh:克吕泰涅斯特拉


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