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Patriarchy and Clytemnestra

Patriarchy generally refers to the dominance of males in a social hierarchy. We see that most cultures and societies throughout history have been dominated by males. The rise of patriarchy often had the impact of diminishing the roles, expressions and contributions of women in society. Women were provided clearly defined and limited roles considered suitable for their ôsexö by men. In AeschylusÆ Oresteia and HomerÆs Iliad, we see that the Greek heroic code stems from ôThe moral pressure which ensures compliance with this heroic code is simply what peers will think and sayö (Dunkle, 1986, p. 4).

Gender roles and patriarchy were not as clearly defined in Ancient Greek society as say the Victorian era. Nevertheless, we see that in Clytemnestra, a woman who murders her husband Agamemnon, a woman who clearly believes the womanÆs role in society is to protect home and hearth along with the sanctity of marriage and family. This analysis will explore the rise of patriarchy in Ancient Greece through a discussion of Clytemnestra and her role as exhibited in the Oresteia and other Greek classics like the Iliad.

Aeschylus (455 B.C., Agamemnon, Act 1, lines 205 - 21) introduces his tragedy by referencing the fact that Agamemnon has sacrificed his daughter, Iphigeneia, to ensure that the war against Troy will be successful. In doing so, he invokes the wrath of his wife, Clytemnestra, who takes a lover during her husbandÆs long absence from home and then kills him and his mistress when he returns. She in turn is killed by their son, Orestes, at the urging of their other daughter, Electra. Orestes then appeals to the gods for a judgment as to whether or not his actions in slaying his mother and her lover were just, given the murder of his father. ElectraÆs new-found hatred for her mother is based on a single fact: that of her fatherÆs murder. As Aeschylus wrote: "àall the love I could have borne my mother turns your way; wh...

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Patriarchy and Clytemnestra. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:03, November 30, 2021, from