Using this passage as a starting point, explain how important you think omens and prophecies are in Agamemnon.
Prophecies and omens contribute significantly in Aeschylus’ play Agamemnon, acting as a catalyst to fuel the events and to help create tension. Whether they are the most influential and important factors within the tragedy is controversial, however, it is undoubtable that their role is substantial and used effectively by Aeschylus.
Initially within the passage itself, prophecies play a crucial part in order to create effect and to fuel the events within the play. Cassandra’s visions of the feast of Thyestes is undoubtedly significant through providing a tension and horror to the play as she reveals the gruesome facts of ‘the babies wailing, skewered on the sword, their flesh charred, the father gorging on their parts’. This vision acts as an important part in the play, as it demonstrates the curse of Atreus, which has led to the majority of the other events. The imagery that Cassandra uses through this vision alludes to the revulsion and distress within the family, and foreshadows what else could come about through the curse. Therefore, this particular vision could be used to demonstrate the importance of omens and prophecies in the play, Agamemnon.
Cassandras prophecies regarding Agamemnon’s death in this passage is also significant in relation to the rest of Aeschylus’ play. This is shown through ‘It’s growing, massing, deep in the house, a plot, a monstrous-thing, to crush the loved ones, no, there is no cure and rescues far away... The lord of your bed, you bathe him…his body glistens, then- how to tell the climax?’ This prophecy from Cassandra acts as a base of fear and foreshadowing towards the audience, leading them to feel on edge and uncomfortable. The tension that is created is through the use and importance of the prophecy. This prophecy from Cassandra, can also create the underlying constant presence of the Gods on stage, through her ability to prophesise, but also, through her calling out to ‘Apollo Apollo, my destroyer’. This further contributes to the importance of prophecies and omens.
Omens and Prophecies are also found throughout the play, usually spoken in the form of animals to exhibit the behaviour patterns of humans, and to become symbols. The Omen of the eagles that prey on a pregnant hare at the start of the play are associated with Agamemnon, and his brother Menelaus, due to the fact, they are fierce warriors, destined to destroy troy (the hare) and its future (the hares offspring). ‘The kings of birds… plunged their claws in a hare, a mother bursting with unborn young’. This omen acts as important in the text as it starts the action of the play and gives the audience the context and information they need to know.
Again spiders and snakes are associated with Clytemnestra because she has spun a web of treachery in resemblance to a spider, and has poised herself like a coiling snake to strike at Agamemnon. This imagery…