Classics 430:
Greek and Roman Mythology
30 January 2002

I.   Good Wives (Penelope), Bad Wives (Clytemnestra) and Weaving:

1. Penelope and Odysseusí return from Troy to Ithaka (from Mondayís lecture)
    a. Questions:
         i. How does Penelope compare to the other women in the Odyssey?
         ii. What basic ëtypesí do these women represent?
         iii. Are they necessary to the story as a whole?

2. The Return (NOSTOS) and Murder of Agamemnon:

    a. Source:  Aeschylusí trilogy, the Oresteia, esp. the first play, the Agamemnon (performed in 458 BCE)
    b. Names: Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Iphigenia (Orestes), Aigisthus, Cassandra, the Furies
    c. Places:  Argos, Troy, Athens
    d. Themes:  Female power, Male Effeminacy, Barbarism, Democratic Ideology
    e. Stuff: Purple-Red clothing fabrics, a metaphor for: blood, economic waste

3. Story:
    a. Agamemnon returns from Troy, but in his absence:
    b. Clytemnestra has taken a lover (Agamemnonís cousin,  Aegisthus) and has taken control of the throne of Argos!  Watch out!  Sheís angry!
    c. The people of Argos have grown really angry at the fact that so many young men of Argos were killed in the Trojan Waróa war fought ëover another manís
        wife!í  [is this the birth of democratic thought?]
    d. Clytemnestra convinces Agamemnon to re-enter his palace by walking on expensive purple-red fabricsóthis is a foreign, or ëbarbaricí custom, not a Greek
        one:  is Clytemnestra trying to turn Agamemnon into a foreigner in his own house?
    e. Agamemnon finally agrees; Clytemnestra then enters the palace herself and kills him by tangling him in these very fabrics and then stabbing him.  Ouch!
    f. Orestes returns, kills Clytemnestra (in revenge for his fatherís death) and then is pursued by the Furies to Athens.
    g. First murder trial in court (AETIOLOGICAL MYTH): establishment of the Athenian democracyódemocracy as the ëcureí for aristocratic excess.

4. Weaving as Womenís Work:
    a. Arachne, Athena, Competition between mortal and a god
    b. Weaving as a metaphor for political order in Aristophanesí Lysistrata
    c. Why Women and Weaving?  What economic meanings lie behind these myths?