Wife of Agamemnon in Greek Mythology, mother of Orestes, Electra, and Iphigenia. She and her lover Aegisthus murdered Agamemnon for his poor treatment of her and his recommendation that they sacrifice Iphigenia. They were in turn slain by Orestes. After exacting his revenge, Orestes was hounded by the Erinyes, the avengers of crime and wickedness.

The following is Clytemnestra's apologia, her defense of her actions, from Aeschylus' Agamemnon 1371-1398. The corpses of her husband and the Trojan princess Cassandra, who foresaw the murders in a prophecy upon entering the palace, are at her feet:

I have said many things previously to serve my purpose, all of which I shall now contradict, without any shame. For how else could anyone fulfill hatred for an enemy who pretends to be a friend and strings up nets of woe too high for him to overleap? For me the contest in this ancient quarrel has come after long planning - in the fullness of time, I say. I stand here where I struck him, over my deeds. Thus did I act, I shall not deny it, so that he could not escape or ward off his doom, I entrapped him in the fatal richness of the robe, encricling him with the huge net, like fishes. I struck him twice, and with two cries he let his limbs go slack; a third blow did I add as a thank offering to Zeus below the earth, keeper of the dead. Thus fallen he gasped out his life, and at his dying breath he spattered me with rapid spurts, a dark-red rain of blood, and I rejoiced no less than the sown earth rejoices in the glory of the rain that Zeus sends for the birth of the swelling buds. Thus my case rests, elders of Argos assembled, and may you too rejoice, if you would like to rejoice. As for me, I exult in my imprecations. If I had poured a libation for the corpse as would be fitting, it would have been of wine and curses - with justice, yes, with more than justice. So great were the accursed evils with which he filled our cup in the house, and now by his homecoming he drinks it to the dregs.

I wrote this for my Classics 28 class; we had to pick a character from the Orestia and riff on them. I chose Clytemnestra:

When he returned from Neptune’s dark depths
Bearing Cassandra, his Ilion wench,
I should have murdered him upon the spot.
I would have attempted, had the girl not
Begun convulsing into prophecy
Outside our household, which I maintained
Ten long years since his hasty departure.
Now he who has slain my lovely child
In the name of my truant sister’s sake
Has returned to me, whom he abandoned
To pursue Helen still a second time
And place me under a watchful bard’s stare.
Untrusted, sunk, I kept no loyalty
To him or his kingly network of villains
Out seeking glory in the name of care,
All burning in secret for Paris’ role.
They pass their harsh judgment easily now,
Proclaim me a vile spider to have woven
Such nets of deceit around my fair king.
I chuckle now, like I did in secret when
He bid me honour him as man, not god.
What can they know of my brutality?
What do they know of being wrestled
From the loving hands of your true husband?
Of two innocents murdered by one hand?
They know nothing of the appalling depths
My bitterness hid with sweet demeanor.
And still they call me evil, betrayer.
Their own reports are right, I wept for joy
When I saw the lights reporting Troy’s sack,
But neither for love nor flag’s allegiance.
Only because my hopeful mind had placed
Agamemnon dead amidst the rubble.

In Agamemnon, Clytemnestra also gets to detail the first recorded transmission of information by electromagnetic relay over more than a thousand miles (essentially, by establishing a network of signal fires to be lit only when the Trojan War was over.) It may have been apocryphal, but it's still worth thinking about....

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