Seneca (4 BC–65), translated by Murgatroyd, Paul (contact-email)

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Agamemnon is a Roman tragedy in Latin verse by Lucius Annaeus Seneca, written in the first century AD. The play, spanning approximately 1012 lines, depicts the murder of King Agamemnon of Argos by his wife Clytaemnestra and her lover Aegisthus after his return from the Trojan War. It comprises five acts, each interspersed with choral odes, exploring themes of vengeance and guilt.

Act I, introduces Thyestes’ ghost, who, burdened by guilt, eagerly anticipates Agamemnon’s murder. Act II shows Clytaemnestra’s internal conflict over the intended murder, her fears, and her eventual agreement to Aegisthus’s plan. In Act III, the herald describes a storm and the deceptive beacons that led to the destruction of Agamemnon’s fleet, whilst Act IV focuses on captive Trojan women, particularly Cassandra, who foresees the impending murder. The final act sees Cassandra’s clairvoyant witnessing of Agamemnon’s assassination. Electra entrusts her brother Orestes to a friend for safety. Defiant, she confronts Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus and is imprisoned. Cassandra, sentenced to death, accepts her fate, hinting at Orestes’s future revenge on the murderers.

This edition is tailored for modern stage performance. The author has avoided adding new content to Seneca’s work but has made some cuts and simplifications to enhance accessibility.

Author Details

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Murgatroyd, Paul

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