Reading Questions: Neils chapter 7; Aeschylus Agamemnon 1. What sort of buildings did ancient Greeks have for performances and competitions? What are the different types of songs and instruments typically employed by them? 2. How did drama develop, at least as far as we can tell? What are the different kinds of play that were put on during the City Dionysia? How many examples of these survive for us? What devices were used in the plays? 3. What are the basic differences between black-figure and red-figure vase painting? Can you make out these differences in the many examples you’ve seen throughout the textbook so far? 4. What role does “Justice” have in the Agamemnon? How have the strictures of retributive justice shaped the fortunes of the House of Atreus over the course of several generations? How is this treated in the play? 5. How does Aeschylus maximally exploit dramatic irony throughout the play, especially as far as the murder plot is concerned? What sort of “double meaning” can be found in the speeches of the Watchman, the chorus, and Clytemnestra? What tension exists in the play between illusion and reality? 6. How is the language and imagery of sacrifice used throughout the play? What is the effect of this? What other type of imagery is used? 7. What is the overall role of the chorus? To what extent is it a participating character in the play? To what extent is it the voice of the poet? To what extent does it reflect the reactions of the audience? What connection is there between its “musical numbers” and the rest of the plot? How do their songs add to the sense of building tension and foreboding? 8. How does the chorus depict Agamemnon’s dilemma at Aulis? Can his choice then be in any way defended? 9. How does Clytemnestra greet her returning husband, and what does their exchange tell you of how Aeschylus conceives of their relationship? Why does Clytemnestra insist Agamemnon step on the crimson tapestries? How does she react to the introduction of Cassandra? 10. What is Cassandra’s story, and how does her exchange with the chorus develop? Why do they have trouble believing her? Why does she hesitate to enter the palace? Is the chorus right to urge her to try to avoid the fate she believes is inevitable? 11. What apologia for her actions does Clytemnestra offer? Are her actions truly justifiable, or is she merely seizing upon an excuse? What does the chorus think of her actions? Is their ultimate lack of action surprising to you? Do you think this is meant to be realistic or is it merely a plot contrivance? 12. What role does Aegisthus have in this play? Does his role as a minor character and quasi-afterthought to the main action surprise you, compared to the description of his actions in Homer? Why has Aeschylus done this?