During the Trojan War period of Homer’s texts, men ruled society with brute force and cunning while
women were meek and powerless; however, with the transition to peacetime came a shift from the heroic code
to a more civilized, democratic code and many gender role reversals. Although the ancient Greek authors
portray Lysistrata, Medea, and Athena differently based on the characters’ level of divinity and the authors’
genre of work, all these women are given some degree of power and cleverness which make them stronger and
more respectable than the men in their societies and stories.
, in unity there is strength, and when the cause is just even the weak can be strong.
Athena shows forgiveness and mercy on Orestes but not on Ajax. This demonstrates that Athena is not
just a merciful goddess, but a discerning one as well.
AESCHYLUS – ORESTEIA
– King of Argos, husband of Clytemnestra. Sacrificed daughter Iphigenia to obtain wind to sail to
Troy, Queen resents daughter’s death and plots revenge when he returns from the war ten years later. Plays
tragic hero but not central to the dialogue of the play. Watchman describes him as a competent king but when he
arrives, he displays hubris when he is easily convinced by his wife to walk on the purple tapestries.
– Agamemnon’s wife, sympathized with because of the death of her daughter and the introduction
of Cassandra, but tainted because of her affair with Aegisthus. Deceptive, takes over rule of Argos with
– Elder citizens of Argos, provides commentary. Foreshadows Agamemnon’s death, describes human
– Trojan princess/priestess captured by Agamemnon and brought to Argos, was Apollo’s lover and
was given the gift of prophecy but because she refused to have his child, he punished her by preventing anyone
around her from believing her predictions. Sees curse on Agamemnon’s family but no one listens to her. Accepts
imminent death, content that someone will avenge her death.
– Agamemnon’s cousin, Clytemnestra’s lover. Agamemnon’s father boiled Aegisthus’ brothers and
served them to Aegisthus’ father. Went into exile, waiting for revenge
– Waited for the signal of Troy’s fall on the roof of the palace, saw Agamemnon’s return
The Herald –
Brings news of Agamemnon’s safety and return, describes war
The Watchman sees a beacon flash that signals the fall of Troy to the Greek armies. He tells the news to Queen
Clytemestra. The Watchman is concerned about the state of the city, sense of fear.
The Chorus enters and tells the story of the Trojan War – Prince Paris stole Helen, wife of Menelaus, leading to
a ten year war between Greece and Troy. Then, tells the story of Iphigenia’s death and how Agamemnon
sacrificed their daughter to obtain favorable wind from Artemis for the Greek fleet to head towards Troy.
The Queen enters and describes the system of beacons that were used to bring word that Troy has fallen. Chorus