Aeschylus’ view of the Trojan War

In the Greek playwright Aeschylus’ play Agamemnon, Aeschylus’ expressed many of his views on the Trojan war through his characters. He seemed to express his views on the role of the gods in the war, the role of men in the war, and what certain people should have done and what was done instead by those same people. He also expressed his view of Justice and who are the main bringers of sanctions in history.

Aeschylus seems to think that the war was wasteful and that it was mainly the fault of Paris and Helen. Paris abducted Helen, the wife of King Menelaus, while he was staying in Menelaus’ house and was under his hospitality. Because of this, Menelaus and his brother King Agamemnon went after Paris, who lived in Troy. This started a ten year long war between Troy and Argos, the city of Menelaus and Agamemnon. It was a dark day for Greek families, according to his play.

Aeschylus also blamed Agamemnon for having intentions that were “profane, unholy, and unsanctified”. He said that he had evil intentions when he offered a human sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia to placate Artemis when the winds were unfavorable for his ships. He did not say that it was unnecessary, but he said that his attitude was bad and that he had ignored the standards of the gods. He also said that unholy acts like that of Agamemnon were the sources of cursed houses.

There were many different bringers of sanctions in the war, according to Aeschylus. First and foremost was Zeus, because he was the greatest and the king of the gods. He was a factor that had to be dealt with. Under him were many other subordinate gods, who also had a certain amount of power. There was Artemis, who was fighting against Agamemnon, Menelaus, and their forces, as well as Apollo. The Herald in the play also praised Hermes, another subordinate god.

The Furies are also identified as sanction-bringers, because they are always seeking revenge for an unjust deed. They strove for revenge for the death of Iphigenia, and then for the death of king Agamemnon, and continue to do so for future murders. Fate is also described in the play, but Fate is not described as a god. Fate is described as impersonal and unstoppable, and there is nothing you can do about it if it declares that something will happen to individuals or to cities. It is not, however, equated with Zeus, but is something different than Zeus.

Man is also seen as a sanction-bringer in the war and in history. Orestes is looked to by the chorus in the play because he can avenge the death of his father. Iphigenia was gagged so that she could not bring a curse on her own family when she was executed by her father. The city is also seen as a sanction -bringer on individuals if they decide to go against the wishes of the city. Thus there is a big mixture of who issues the sanctions in history and who issued them in the war according to Aeschylus. Although all of these factors bring events about in the war, there is no system of mercy in the war or in history in Aeschylus’ view, or probably that of most of the Greeks as well. All the sanction-bringers are merciless, and you just have to deal with it, whatever it is.


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