ᗅᗺᗷᗅ and the Death of Agamemnon
Continuity. It is one of my most favorite things in the whole world. (Metternich and I would have gotten along famously.) We human beings are linked, across time and space, by tendrils which may manifest in the most subtle and unexpected ways. On those occasions when you stumble onto one of these veins of humanity, it is an incredible thing. My reaction always teeters in that netherworld between laughter, weeping, and goosebumps.
Here is one from tonight...
Ever since Homer introduced the world to the sons of Atreus, the men who fought at Troy – Greek and Trojan alike – have had a sort of immortality. For nearly three thousand years, young men have marveled at the rage of Achilles, winked at the cunning of Odysseus, and wondered aghast at the violence Agamemnon perpetrated against his own family.
Aeschylus, borrowing from Homer, later dramatized Agamemnon's story. He returns, at long last, from Troy. It is a cold welcome. Mrs. Agamemnon (Clytemnestra) has, perhaps understandably, not forgiven her husband for sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia to the gods in exchange for favorable winds to Troy. It is not helping the situation that Agamemnon has brought his hottie mistress Cassandra home with him to join the family. We're only into scene 1 and we already know that this play is not going to end well.
Cassandra, in addition to being hot, is also unstable. When she was younger, Apollo, moved by her beauty, granted her the gift of prophecy. Then he tried to seduce her. She turned him down. The gods were never ones to take that very well, and so she was cursed. The curse was that while she would know the future, no one would believe her.
So, when Cassandra tries to warn Agamemnon about the fact that Mrs. Agamemnon is pretty mad about stuff, and that she and her not-so-secret lover are planning to kill him, Agamemnon's response is as predictable as it is tragic. The train wreck that follows unfolds in slow-motion.
Agamemnon: I'm tired and would like a relaxing bath.
Mrs. Agamemnon: I can help with that. Go on in, the water's hot.
Agamemnon: Okay. [Gets into bath.] Ahhhh.
Mrs. Agamemnon: Here, you look cold. Let me wrap you up in this blood-red carpet.
Agamemnon: Okay. That sounds like a perfectly reasonable suggestion.
Mrs. Agamemnon: (chopping her husband with an axe) Die pig! And your crazy mistress too!
Agamemnon: Darn it. I curse you. (dies as a result of massive trauma and blood loss)
Just think, this is only the first movie. There are two sequels. Very dramatic.
Now...for the continuity. As I was writing this evening, I was listening to ᗅᗺᗷᗅ, with whom faithful readers of Blerkins know, I am going through an infatuation. They have a song titled Cassandra, which until this evening, I had never really listened to very closely. It turns out that, sure enough, it is a retelling of the Homeric mythology.
Why get all giddy about that? Because for the four minutes or so of the song, I am in communion with men in every age for whom those Greek myths have been formative. Because for a brief moment, Aeschylus and Homer and I are all standing together in the same room, and there is an understanding that transcends mere language. I am like Peter standing on the Mount of Transfiguration, witnessing, for a few seconds, the Lord Himself speaking to the seminal figures of the Faith.
Captain B. would say to me that there was no real Homer, and that I am simply swept up in my own romantic imagination – that it's all in my head. Perhaps he is right.
Then again, that's just what they told Cassandra.