Agamemnon and menelaus relationship

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agamemnon and menelaus relationship

During the war Menelaus served under his elder brother Agamemnon, the commander in chief of the Greek forces. When Phrontis, one of his crewmen, was . This story implies a representation of Agamemnon and Menelaus, their relationship, and their respective political roles, that is not reconcilable with that of the. Agamemnon was the king of Mycenae. He was also the son of Arteus, husband of Clytmnestra, and brother of Menelaus. Agamemnon was the.

Agamemnon at first was eager to be leader of the expedition, and distinguished himself mainly in the social-networking and open-handed hospitality by which he brought the coalition together Having acquired the position of leader, he suddenly changed his ways and became arrogant, inaccessible and inac- tive on behalf of the army Why must you watch over my affairs?

Is this not the work of a shame- less man? Because my own desire provoked me.

I am not your slave. My argument posits that it preserves or reflects old tradition in its depiction of the Atreidae, and it matters little to this argument whether the play was given its final form by Euripides or by another; I hope to show, however, that its depiction of the brothers has several parallels in the Euripidean corpus and perhaps also in Sophocles.

What a sad and confused expression you had, if you would not lead the thousand ships and fill the plain of Priam with spears! What way out can I discover? Earlier in the play, Agamemnon himself had recalled a similar incident, describing how Menelaus interfered with his decision to disband the army after the prophecy of Calchas.

The intervention is described decidedly not as a consultation but as an act of rhetorical persuasion Then my brother, bringing every kind of argument, persuaded me to dare terrible deeds. Evidently the brothers disagree not only on the course of action to be taken now, but on the very facts of what has hap- pened earlier.

How does this scene characterize the brothers and their relationship?

Agamemnon obtained command of the expedition because his political skill and social clout, along with a measure of personal ambition, made him best qualified to assemble the Achaean coalition. He lacks, however, the 30 Or, more likely, each distorts his account for rhetorical effect: In times of difficulty he asks the advice of Menelaus, and some- times follows it.

agamemnon and menelaus relationship

None of this is reconcilable with the Iliadic depiction of the Atreidae, but fits perfectly with the situation briefly sketched in our Odyssean passage. In fact, the situations have some striking similarities: In both, the brothers disagree in a matter affecting the fate of the Achaean host, whether it is their safe departure from or their safe arrival at Troy.

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In both, Agamemnon has heard about some divine wrath Artemis or Athena and has decided on a course of action. This play evidently featured a quarrel between the brothers, probably in the first episode. The few remaining fragments suggest that they quarreled over whether to set out on a new expedition against Troy 31 So after their reconciliation Agamemnon asks his brother what can be done to forestall a betrayal by Calchas or Odysseus, and Menelaus offers positive advice with regard to the former: Calchas can be easily assassinated Blaiklock; Lawrence; Ryzman; Griffin Go where you wish.

I will not perish for the sake of your Helen. Sparta belongs to you: I will govern Mycenae by my own right. Menelaus is eager to go to or from TroyAgamem- non is reluctant; Menelaus attempts to take command of the situation, and Agamemnon resists. There are fragments of an unidentified tragedian that have suggested to some a rendition of the quarrel of the Atreidae about the 33 Cf. You, then, stay here in the land of Ida, gather the flocks of Olympus and make sacrifice.

The sacrifice mentioned is presumably that with which Agamemnon hopes to assuage the wrath of Athena. If reconstructions of the latter two are reliable, then it can be said that in each of these three plays a quarrel between the Atre- idae took place in the first episode. Preiser84, n. As Rosivachnotes, in his demand that Ajax not be buried Menelaus seems at times to claim command of the army on an equal footing with his brother. Agamemnon shows clear affinities with the Agamemnon of the Iliad, so uncompromising in Book 1 but soon persuaded to a more flexible attitude by Nestor in Book 9; so here in the Ajax he is persuaded by Odysseus to yield.

Similarly, in each case it would appear that the quarrel of the Atreidae served little purpose except as a device to introduce the dramatic situ- ation. In the Nostoi, by contrast, the quarrel appeared early in the narra- tive, like the quarrel of Iliad Book 1, and must have been used by the poet to introduce his two most important characters, the basic dramatic situation, and any number of important themes for his work.

This again suggests that, with regard to the narrative and thematic function of the quarrel, the later epic may reflect a broader tradition that the tragedians had access to.

agamemnon and menelaus relationship

As noted above, it presents a very different view of the Atreidae. Heathargues rather that the quarrel offered an occasion for Telephus to make his first appearance and to speak in defense of the Trojans.

Nevertheless, if the alternative view of the brothers can be traced back as an established tradi- tion already in the Odyssey and the Epic Cycle, we might expect to see some signs of this even within the Iliad. On the level of formula, Willcock argues that the traditional epithets of Menelaus seem to emphasize his prowess as a warrior, whereas the Menelaus of the Iliad does not distinguish himself in this realm.

While the Iliad never shows the Atreidae actually quarreling, two of their three meetings feature an argument of sorts, albeit one in which Agamemnon is decidedly dominant while Menelaus offers no resistance: In Book 6, Agamemnon reproaches Menelaus when the latter is about to spare Achilles should not be confused by potential political challenges from another quarter.

The poet, evidently because he had a gentler view of the Trojans than his predecessors, used these formulas in a more restricted fashion, namely only as a feature of Achaean speech about the Trojans; this left something of a gap in the formulaic repertoire with which the poet himself describes them.

Similary, at Iliad 5. Or did you meet with the best treatment in your home from the Trojans? It occurs again at Il. But it is you, oh great shameless one, we follow, so that you may be pleased, winning honor for Menelaus, and for you, dog-face, from the Trojans.

But this you do not notice, nor care for. Does the use of such a phrase highlight the separation of the brothers? Edwards87 on Il.

agamemnon and menelaus relationship

Interestingly, the phrase under discussion appears in an interpolated verse at 9. In the case of 7. Similarly, in the line that follows we can see something semantically akin to 5.

Hainsworthon Similarly, in Book 23, when Achilles proposes various athletic contests to the Achaeans, he addresses himself to the Achaeans once with the same line used by Nestor in Book 7 Yet there are two very interesting cases in which the singular vocative is not so obviously to be preferred.

The first example is from Book 7: After a difficult day of fighting and the defeat of Paris and Hector in duels with Menelaus and Ajax respectively, the Trojans hold an assembly: Which son of Atreus?

Do we understand that Agamemnon is meant, since it is at his ship that the Achaeans are assembled, or Menelaus, since his wife and possessions are at issue, or Agamemnon again, since he is the true leader of the Achaean coalition?

Line is clearly formulaic, being equivalent to 7. It is Agamemnon who is addressed; yet this remains genuinely ambiguous for some moments after the speech introduction, and perhaps until the Achaean response.


After a moment of awk- ward silence, Diomedes offers a rousing and contemptuous refusal that meets with general acclamation from the Achaeans. Menelaus does not speak, and indeed never appears in the episode. The decision laid before the Achaeans by Idaios is precisely the type of decision that the Atreidae appear to have traditionally quarreled over, namely whether to stay or to go, whether to pursue the expedition or cut their losses, whether Helen is worth it after all.

agamemnon and menelaus relationship

In the ambiguity as to which of the Atreidae is to respond to the present proposal, or in the confusion as to why one rather than both is addressed, and perhaps in the moment of awkward silence before Diomedes speaks, the poet may well be playing with the expectations of an audience familiar with such traditions. My second example is from Book One. First, the Achaeans generally, urging acceptance of the ransom and reverence for the priest Only then does Agamemnon speak, not with ratification of their view but with indignant refusal.

Menelaus does not speak at all, and indeed does not appear anywhere in Book 1. Various explanations have been offered for the fact that mnemosyne 67 22 sammons Chryses addresses his plea to the entire Achaean community;60 the fact that even his specific appeal is made not to Agamemnon alone, but to the Atre- idae as a team, seems never to have been explained.

Agamemnon and Menelaus Fighting in Troy by on Prezi

There is a divine wrath affecting the whole of the army, to which Agamemnon responds in a particular way, and he is challenged by an adversary who threatens to present the case to an assembly of the Achaeans or actually does so.

What do these various stories imply about the characterization of the brothers and their relationship? We have on the one hand an iras- cible and aggressive Menelaus who is ever bent on immediate action, obvi- ously with the relentless aim of recovering Helen or bringing her home, hence reversing the disgrace he incurred with her elopement. Here, Menelaus is mild-mannered, diffident, and entirely under the sway of his brother. The suitor who won was Menelaus Tyndareus, not to displease the powerful Agamemnon offered him another of his daughters, Clytaemnestra.

Menelaus and Helen had a daughter Hermione as supported, for example, by Sappho[3] whilst some variations of the myth suggest they had three sons as well: AithiolasMaraphiusand Pleisthenes. Trojan War Menelaus regains Helen, detail of an Attic red-figure crater, c.

According to legend, in a return for awarding her a golden apple inscribed "to the fairest," Aphrodite promised Paris the most beautiful woman in all the world.

After concluding a diplomatic mission to Sparta during the latter part of which Menelaus was absent to attend the funeral of his maternal grandfather Catreus in CreteParis ran off to Troy with Helen despite his brother Hector 's prohibition. Invoking the oath of TyndareusMenelaus and Agamemnon raised a fleet of a thousand ships and went to Troy to secure Helen's return; the Trojans refused, providing a casus belli for the Trojan War.

Menelaus soundly beats Paris, but before he can kill him and claim victory, Aphrodite spirits Paris away inside the walls of Troy.

However, Athena never intended for Menelaus to die and she protects him from the arrow of Pandarus. Later, in Book 17, Homer gives Menelaus an extended aristeia as the hero retrieves the corpse of Patroclus from the battlefield.

agamemnon and menelaus relationship

According to HyginusMenelaus killed eight men in the war, and was one of the Greeks hidden inside the Trojan Horse. Menelaus sought out Helen in the conquered city. Raging at her infidelity, he raised his sword to kill her, but as he saw her weeping at his feet, begging for her life, Menelaus' wrath instantly left him.