Who: The king of Mycenae in the 12th Century BC.
Lived: During the Trojan War (early 12th Century BC)
Position: King of Mycenae
Brother to: Menelaus, King of Sparta
Agamemnon, a character of Greek mythology, was the son of King Atreus of Mycenae and Queen Aerope. He would eventually take to throne of Mycenae (also known as Argos) to become king. It is not certain if Agamemnon was a real person or the product of Homer’s book the Iliad, even after claims from Heinrich Schliemann in 1876 that he had discovered his tomb and the ‘mask’ of Agamemnon (pictured right). The mask was later identified to belong to a previous King of Mycenae a few centuries before Agamemnon would have existed.
What we know of Agamemnon is only through one of the plays by Aeschylus, the Greek lyric poet Pindar and the book the Iliad. The book begins with Agamemnon declaring was on the Trojans after Helen, the wife of his brother Menelaus, was abducted by Paris of Troy. Agamemnon and his brother at the time were the most powerful people of Greece and gathered up Greek soldiers to sail for Troy. However, the goddess Artemis was angry with Agamemnon because of all the young men who will die at Troy and prevented his ships from sailing to Troy. Agamemnon then sacrificed his own daughter, as the prophet Calchas announced this was the only way to to please Artemis. Then the Greek army set out for Troy.
Agamemnon was the commander of the Greeks during the Trojan war and even participated in the fighting killing 16 Trojan Soldiers. One of the main plots of the Iliad was the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles during the final year of the war. Agamemnon had taken one of Achilles slave girls, Briseis, from him. Achilles, the greatest warrior the Greeks had, withdrew from the war, nearly costing the Greeks the war. Eventually the Greeks would capture Troy and return to Greece.Among the spoils of the war was Cassandra, the daughter of King Priam of Troy, whom Agamemnon took along with him.
Upon returning to Greece Agamemnon got blown off course and landed in Aegisthus’ country, where Agamemnon’s wife, Clytemnestra, had taken him as her new lover. Upon returning to Mycenae Clytemnestra decided to take her chances. She killed Agamemnon as he was taking a bath. Clytemnestra was still angry over Agamemnon’s decision to sacrifice their own daughter, her jealousy over Cassandra and his decision to go to war over Helen. Agamemnon’s son Orestes later avenged his father’s murder by killing Aegisthus and his own mother.
Truth of Troy: A Real Agamemnon? by BBC: