Agamemnon was the son of the King of Mycenae. Mycenae is a city in Argolis, north of Argos, founded by Perseus. His father was King Atreus and his mother Queen Aerope. He had a brother named Menelaus. Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus both married daughters of Tyndareus. Agamemnon married Clytaemenestra and Menelaus married Helen. Agamemnon became the King of Mycenae and Menelaus became King of Sparta when Tyndareus died. Clytaemenestra was a virgin, however she was promised to marriage to Tantalus and was the mother of a child. Before Agamemnon could marry her, he had to kill her husband and child. Clytaemenestra never did get over this. Agamemnon had four children with Clytaemenestra, three daughters who were Iphigeneia, Electra, Chrysothemis and one son, Orestes.
The Trojan War began with Menelaus, Agamemnon’s brother. Paris, a Trojan, had stolen some of Menelaus property, including his wife Helen. Therefore, Agamemnon became the Commander in Chief of The Achaean Army. When the war started, the winds had stopped the army from sailing. The ships would not move. Calchas, knowing the past, present, and future, told Agamemnon that the only way his ships would sail would be to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigeneia, to Artemis. Menelaus convinced Agamemnon to murder his daughter to pursue the war. The story is that Artemis accepted a deer in Iphigeneia’s place and took her away instead of being killed. It is said that she became the goddess of Hecte. So began the war.
When The Iliad begins, the war has been going on for nine years. Agamemnon had taken Chryseis for his prize. Chryseis was the daughter of Chryses, Apollo’s priest. Chryses came to Agamemnon and offered a ransom to get his daughter back. Agamemnon disgraced the priest and the priest then prayed to Apollo. Apollo spread a plague amongst the Archaean army. The army was dying. This is where we are introduced to Achilles.
Achilles then makes a public display of disrespect to Agamemnon. Achilles accuses Agamemnon of taking all the rewards and now he will not accept a ransom to stop the plaque from killing the troops. Agamemnon is so enraged at Achilles, he finally decides to give Chryseis back, however he wants Achilles prize, Briseis, instead. Achilles walks away from the army, enraged at Agamemnon. He then has Thetis, his mother, go to Zeus to punish the Achaeans.
Agamemnon, by keeping Achilles away, caused more deaths in the army. Fighting with Achilles also put him at odds with heaven. After his army is dying Agamemnon decides to have his best men go to Achilles and offer him gifts, including Briseis. Achilles refuses.
Agamemnon continued fighting without Achilles. Agamemnon himself was a glorious fighter too. He was actually wounded in battle and killed many Trojans. Agamemnon finally declared that is was wrong to take Briseis from Achilles and once again offered Achilles gifts. Achilles did accept and it ended the hostility between the two, even though Achilles never received Agamemnon’s gifts.
After Troy was seized, Agamemnon took another prize. He took Priam’s daughter, Cassandra. While Agamemnon was at war, his wife Clytaemenestra had become lovers with Aegisthus. When Agamemnon returned with Cassandra, Clytaemenestra and Aegisthus murdered them both. Therefore, Aegisthus became King of Mycenae. Orestes, son of Agamemnon, would later avenge his father’s death by killing both his mother and Aegisthus.
Agamemnon is portrayed in history as a great leader. His tomb in indicated in the ruins of Mycenae and Amyclae. He was considered the King of Men.
Parada, Carlos. Greek Mythology Link. 3 Feb 2004. 20 Feb 2005 http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/Agamemnon.html
“Agamemnon.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 4 Feb 2005,19:06UTC. 20 Feb 2005 http://en:wikipedia.org/wiki/Agamemnon