Ancient Greek heroes - Agamemnon

Sing of it from the moment when Agamemnon, Atreus’ son, that king of men, parted in wrath from noble Achilles. - Homer's Iliad. Opening verses.

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Agamemnon was the son of Atreus and the brother of Menelaus. He was the king of Mycenae (according to Homer), and was the leader of the Greek forces during the Trojan War. He married Clytemnestra and had several children by her, including Orestes, Electra, and Iphigenia.

When the Greeks sailed for Troy, their fleet was trapped by unfavourable winds at Aulis. The seer Calchas revealed that their misfortune was due to Agamemnon, who had boasted that he equalled Artemis in hunting; the winds would only change if Agamemnon's daughter Iphigenia was sacrificed. Agamemnon reluctantly agreed to the sacrifice, but Artemis herself whisked Iphigenia away from the altar and substituted a deer in her place.

During the siege of Troy, Agamemnon offended the greatest of the Greek warriors, Achilles, when he took the girl Briseis from him. Achilles' anger with Agamemnon furnished the mainspring of the plot in the Iliad. After the sack of Troy, Agamemnon acquired Cassandra, the daughter of King Priam, as his concubine, and took her home with him to Greece.

Agamemnon had an unhappy homecoming. He was either blown off course and landed in the country of Aegisthos, or he came home to his own land to find Aegisthus waiting for him. In either case, Aegisthus had become the lover of Clytemnestra, and the two together murdered Agamemnon and Cassandra shortly after their arrival. Aegisthus and Clytemnestra then ruled Agamemnon's kingdom, but were eventually killed by Agamemnon's son, Orestes (or by Orestes and Electra in some accounts). The homecoming of Agamemnon and its aftermath were favourite subjects for Greek tragedy.

The Mask of Agamemnon

The "Mask of Agamemnon" is one of the most famous gold artefacts from the Greek Bronze Age. Found at Mycenae in 1876 by the distinguished archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, it was one of several gold funeral masks found laid over the faces of the dead buried in the shaft graves of a royal cemetery. The most detailed and stylistically distinct mask came to be known as the Mask of Agamemnon, named after the famous king of ancient Mycenae whose triumphs and tribulations are celebrated in Homer’s epic poems and in the tragic plays of Euripides.