Why Does Clytemnestra kill Agamemnon?

In the Trojan War, King Agamemnon led the Greeks, and they were successful in their conquest. The gods intervened in the war, and they helped many heroes and warriors win the battle. 

However, after being victorious in their 10-year-long battle, his wife Clytemnestra plotted his death with her lover when he came home. 

Why did Clytemnestra kill Agamemnon? Are there any more profound reasons why she did it? And does she have any accomplices in plotting her husband’s death? 

If you want to know why Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon, you are about to see the bitter version of the truth. 

The Genealogy of King Agamemnon 

King Agamemnon has a tantalizing story with his family lineage. Aside from being the brother of King Menelaus, King Agamemnon’s roots have an impressive yet tragic lineage starting from his father (or grandfather) King Atreus and his great grandfather Tantalus. 

Tantalus

The first notable start of their family started with the mortal king Tantalus, who is known to be suffering from the punishment he receives from the king of all gods, Zeus. 

King Tantalus has many accounts of how he received the punishment. It started with the banquet that the gods hosted with him, and he is said to offer his son to deceive the gods and see whether they can immediately figure out that what they are eating is the flesh of his son Pelops. 

Meanwhile, some accounts tell that King Tantalus was trying to get a taste of the exceptional food for the gods – Ambrosia and Nectar – that made him suffer. 

Nevertheless, whatever Tantalus did, Zeus was fuming mad at him, and he received a despicable curse in the realm of Hades. 

He has an insatiable thirst and hunger, and to make him agonize more, he has to stand in the pool of water that retreats whenever he tries to catch some to drink. 

Tantalus also has plenty of food above his head. But as a part of his punishment, the branches move away if he tries to catch some to eat. 

In the premise of the most famous reason why Zeus punished Tantalus, Pelops (his son whom he presented as food to the banquet) was revived by the gods. He came back to life, but his arm was made of ivory because Demeter already had a bite out of his arm. She was unaware that what she was eating was a part of the human flesh, and therefore, he had to wear a prosthetic arm. 

Niobe

Aside from Pelops, he has a daughter named Niobe, who also encountered the wrath of the twins Artemis and Apollo. Niobe’s children were slaughtered by the gods because she boasted that she had more children than Leto. 

The two gods are known to be remarkably protective of their mother. Thus they ended up killing all of Niobe’s children. Arrows darted from Artemis and Apollo’s bow, killing her six or seven of her sons and daughters. 

Atreus

Even though several years have passed, the curse still goes through their family, and Atreus carries them up to Agamemnon’s birth.  Atreus is the son of Pelops, and he has two sons named Agamemnon and Menelaus. The two of his sons became kings, but they still have to face a horrendous fate as they fall into the grips of war started by Menelaus because of the abduction of his wife, Helen. 

How Does The Trojan War Relate To Agamemnon’s Death?

At the beginning of the Trojan War,  Agamemnon tried to help his brother bring back his wife. However, their boats could not get past the coast because of Artemis. The goddess is outraged by the fact that they have harmed one of her precious stags. 

Their boats were steadied in the ocean, and there was no way they could move if they could not pacify the anger of the goddess of the hunt, Artemis. 

The only way they can do it is to make Agamemnon willingly sacrifice his daughter to Artemis. Without any hesitation, Agamemnon agreed to the idea. 

He made sure that his virgin daughter Iphigenia doesn’t know that she will be sacrificed to the goddess, which only explains why Clytemnestra kills Agamemnon. 

Iphigenia is still a young maiden, but her father is marrying her off to Achilles, which seemed absurd to Clytemnestra. Agamemnon’s wife tried to stop the plan of losing her daughter, but it was too late. 

Iphigenia died in the hands of Agamemnon’s men. They slit her throat and continued to pursue the ocean once they finished the task. But some accounts tell that Artemis took pity on Agamemnon’s daughter and made her a priestess instead. 

What Pushed Clytemnestra to Kill Agamemnon? 

Losing your daughter for entirely selfish reasons is sufficient to make you detest someone you once loved. The case of why does Clytemnestra kill Agamemnon centers on her hatred of her husband, who does not take their daughter’s life into account.  He leaves their kingdom to include himself in a 10 year battle between Greeks and Spartans instead. 

During his 10 year absence, Clytemnestra had an affair with Agamemnon’s cousin Aegisthus. 

Aegisthus is Agamemnon and Menelaus’s ultimate enemy. Aegisthus cherished the half-sister of Helen — Clytemnestra— and Agamemnon’s return does not sound good on his part. 

Aegisthus needs to think of a faster way to dispose of his cousin and remain to be Clytemnestra’s lover. There is no other way than plotting his death and coaxing his wife to do the deed. 

The Deliverance of Clytemnestra’s Ploy to Kill Agamemnon 

There are many versions of this story, but it started when Agamemnon brought home princess Cassandra. He and Cassandra were lovers, and Clytemnestra was so bitter because he is not a bit sorry for the death of their daughter. 

Aegisthus and Clytemnestra took their chance while Agamemnon was in his quarters. The king was in his bath, so they jumped on the opportunity to tie him up with huge ropes and stab him with an ax. Later on, they also killed Cassandra and think that Iphigenia’s death is justified because she did not see any remorse in him for their daughter’s death ten years ago. 

The Revenge of Orestes

Orestes is the eldest son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. The young hero also killed his mother and her lover when he grew older to avenge his father’s death. However, after the murder of Clytemnestra, the furies punished him. He was tried for Clytemnestra and Aegisthus’s murder, so he was tried by the gods. After their family’s long and painful suffering, the curse of their family finally ends with Orestes as the gods finally forgave him of his sins. 

Final Thoughts 

Why did Clytemnestra kill Agamemnon? This question is not a puzzle that you need to picture really hard to get the answer to. The queen was not happy, and indeed, the death of her daughter brought her more grief. 

But the only push she needs is to see that her husband is not a little bit remorseful of what he did. Together with her lover, they sealed the life of one of the notable yet selfish heroes in Greek mythology. 

Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon, and it was sealed on their fate to suffer significantly because of their wrongdoings. 

Leave a Comment