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“Sing of it from the moment when Agamemnon, Atreus’ son, that king of men, parted in wrath from noble Achilles.” – Homer’s Iliad. Opening verses.

Who was Agamemnon?

According to Homer’s Iliad, Agamemnon was the king of Mycenae and the leader of the Greek forces during the Trojan War.  He was the brother of Menelaus of Sparta (who was the husband of Helen of Troy). His father was King Atreus amd his wife was Clytemnestra.

According to myth (Iliad), when the Greeks set sails for Troy, their fleet was trapped by unfavorable winds at Aulis. Not knowing what to do they turned to  seer Calchas who revealed that their misfortune was due to King Agamemnon, who had boasted that he equaled Artemis in hunting. According to Calchas the winds would only change if Agamemnon’s daughter Iphigenia was sacrificed. Agamemnon reluctantly agreed to the sacrifice, but Artemis herself whisked Iphigenia away from the altar and substituted a deer in her place.

Later on in Iliad, during the siege of Troy, Agamemnon offended the greatest of the Greek warriors, Achilles, when he took the girl Briseis from him. Achilles’ anger with Agamemnon was the key plot in the Iliad as it kickstarted a number of events, eventually leading to the death of Achilles . After the sack of Troy, Agamemnon acquired Cassandra, the daughter of King Priam, as his concubine, and took her home with him to Greece.

After the Trojan War Agamemnon had a rather unhappy homecoming. He came home to Mycenae to find that Aegisthus had become the lover of Clytemnestra. Aegisthus and Clytemnestra murdered Agamemnon and then ruled Mycenae but were eventually killed by Agamemnon’s son, Orestes (or by Orestes and Electra in other accounts). The triumphant return of Agamemnon from the Trojan War and his tragic death were favorite subjects for Greek tragedy in ancient times.


Jason and the Argonauts




The mask of Agamemnon

The “Mask of Agamemnon” was found at an arcehological excavation in Mycenae in 1876 and is one of the most famous gold artifacts from the Greek Bronze Age. It was one of several gold funeral masks found laid over the faces of the dead buried in the shaft graves of a royal cemetery.

The most detailed and stylistically distinct mask came to be known as the Mask of Agamemnon, named after the famous king of ancient Mycenae whose triumphs and tribulations are celebrated in Homer’s epic poems and in the tragic plays of Euripides.

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