King Agamemnon: Mythology & Trojan War

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  • 0:00 Mythology of Agamemnon
  • 1:14 The Trojan War
  • 2:52 The Death of Agamemnon
  • 3:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Deering

Mary has a Master's Degree in History with 18 advanced hours in Government. She has taught college History and Government courses.

Meet Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek army during the Trojan War. Discover how this arrogant king was humbled by the gods and learn about his death at the hands of his wife and her lover.

Mythology of Agamemnon

In The Iliad, Agamemnon was the commander of the Greek forces in the Trojan War. Agamemnon was the king of Mycenae and his brother Menelaus was the king of Sparta. Agamemnon and his brother were married to the daughters of King Tyndareus of Sparta, Clytemnestra and Helen.

Agamemnon and Menelaus came from a family fraught with murder and incest. Atreus, the father of Agamemnon and Menelaus, killed the children of his twin brother, Thyestes, in retaliation for his brother having an affair with his wife. Thyestes had also fathered a child, Aegisthus, with his daughter. When Atreus killed Thyestes' other children, Aegisthus killed Atreus and forced Agamemnon and Menelaus out of Mycenae. The two young men took refuge in Sparta, where they met and married their wives.

When King Tyndareus died, Menelaus became the king of Sparta and helped his brother Agamemnon to force Aegisthus and Thyestes out of power and take the throne of Mycenae. All seemed to be going well for the brothers until Menelaus' wife Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, ran away with Paris, a prince of Troy.

The Trojan War

When Menelaus and Helen were married, all of her suitors had promised that they would punish any man who broke up the marriage. So, when Helen ran away with Paris, all of Helen's previous suitors and Menelaus' powerful brother, Agamemnon, agreed to help Menelaus to retrieve his wife and punish Paris of Troy. Menelaus and Agamemnon gathered the armies of their allies at the coast to sail to Troy; however, the winds refused to blow and the army was unable to advance.

Finally, the Greeks consulted a prophet who informed them that Agamemnon had offended the goddess Artemis by killing one of her stags and bragging about it. In order to appease the goddess, the prophet recommended that Agamemnon sacrifice his most beautiful daughter, Iphigenia. When the young woman arrived at the coast, Agamemnon had her sacrificed to the goddess and the winds began to blow, allowing the ships to sail to Troy.

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