MYCENAE & the myth of AGAMEMNON
Mycenae was the home of Agamemnon, commander of the Greek army in the Trojan war. Historically it was the most powerful Greek state during the last third of the Bronze Age (1600-1100 BC), which is one ofthe reasons that this period is called Mycenean. Heinrich Schliemann excavated here in 1874-76 and in the Royal Grave Circle A he found rich treasures which proves that Agamemnon really lived and that Homer’s story of the Trojan War was history and not a myth.
The myth of Mycenae is the story of the Pelopid dynasty. Pelops, the king of Olympia, who gave his name to the Peloponnese (=Island of Pelops), had two sons, Atreus and Thyestes. After his death, Atreus, being the older son, became king of Mycenae.
Atreus had two sons, Agamemnon andMenelaus, who married 2 sisters; Menelaus married Helen(the beautiful Helen of Troy) and Agamemnon married Klytemnestra. When Helen ran off with Paris, the Trojan prince, Agamemnon and Menelaus became commanders-in-chief of the great expedition, which fought and won the Trojan War. When Agamemnon returned from the war, Klytemnestra was not overjoyed to see him; she had a lover (Thyestes’ son Aigisthus) and Agamemnon, who had earlier, at the begining of trojan war, sacrificed his daughter Iphigeneia so that favourable winds would blow his fleet to Troy, now drove up to the palace with his new concubine, the Trojan princess Kassandra. Klytemnestra therefore invited Agamemnon to come in and take a bath; she gave him a garment to put on (with no holes for his head and arms) and while he stood there with the bag on his head she killed him with three blows of an axe. Later Orestes, the son of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra, returned to Mycenae and killed his mother to avenge his father; for his crime of matricide he was driven mad by the Furies (mythic emblems of guilt) until finally, in the Attic version, he was acquitted at the first Areopagus trial, under the Acropolis.