22 March 2023

The Life of Agamemnon in Greek Mythology

Greek mythology lives on today, with sensory theatre such as The Burnt City retelling the thrilling stories of the Trojan War. This immersive play in London explores the legendary conflict between the Greeks and the people of Troy, introducing Agamemnon - the mythical King of Mycenae and the force behind the Greeks’ invasion of Troy. But who exactly was this formidable warrior, and what sort of life did he lead? Let’s find out more.

Early Life and Rise to King

Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope, and brother of Menelaus. He was married to Clytemnestra with whom he had one son, Orestes, and three daughters: Iphigenia, Electra, and Chrysothemis. As with a lot of stories in Greek mythology, Agamemnon led a life blackened by curses, murder, incest and treachery. But he rose from chaos to become one of the most powerful and feared kings of mythical times. With a name meaning ‘steadfast’, ‘unbowed’ or ‘resolute’, Agamemnon was undoubtedly an unstoppable warrior.

Commander of the Greeks

When Menelaus’ wife, Helen, ran off with (or was kidnapped by) Prince Paris of Troy, Agamemnon was furious. He called on the princes of the country to raise a huge army with the aim of fetching her back, which is why Helen is often referred to as ‘the face that launched a thousand ships’.

The invasion of Troy led to a ten-year battle, and it is one of the most famous epic tales ever told. The war involved at least 100,000 men in each army, and according to Homer’s Iliad, 1,186 Greek ships set sail. Agamemnon was so determined to be victorious he even sacrificed his own daughter Iphigenia in order to repair a rift with the goddess Artemis and get a favourable wind for his fleet.

The fall of Troy eventually came when the Greeks managed to fake defeat. They built a huge wooden horse and left it outside the gates of Troy as an offering to the God Athena, while pretending to sail away. The Trojans fell for the trick and took the horse into the city to celebrate their victory. Little did they know that the best Greek soldiers were actually hiding inside. Late at night, the hidden Greeks opened the gates of Troy to the rest of the army, who had silently sailed back, and took victory once and for all.

The Tragic Fate of Agamemnon

Following a victorious return from Troy, Agamemnon met a tragic end. As soon as he came back home, he was murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus. In his absence, Agamemnon had failed to prepare for betrayal and deceit back home - and this became his downfall.

Scary mythical creatures and powerful gods make for great stories, so don’t miss The Burnt City, put on by Punchdrunk, the world’s leading immersive theatre company.