41 pages 1 hour read



Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 458

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The Relationship of Justice to Retribution and Suffering

In many ways, the central theme of Agamemnon is justice and its relationship to retribution and suffering. In the world of the play, justice is a harsh concept that is interpreted as essentially punitive or retributive. Justice in Agamemnon, in other words, means that those who do wrong are punished. This retributive justice requires either the gods or the characters to inflict suffering upon others.

The play is filled with examples—which may serve as cautionary tales—of punishments being inflicted upon wrongdoers. Paris and Helen—and, as a result of their actions, the city of Troy—are punished when the gods grant the Greeks victory in the Trojan War. This punishment provides justice both for Paris and Helen’s adultery and for his violation of the laws of hospitality when he stole the wife of his host, Menelaus. Likewise, when the Greeks desecrate the temples of the gods during the sacking of Troy, they are punished with a storm, sent by the gods, that destroys and scatters many ships. Justice is also meted out to Atreus and his descendants, whose atrocities are punished violently across generations: The crimes of Atreus are punished by his brother, Thyestes, and Thyestes’s son, Aegisthus; Thyestes and

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