The Seven Against Thebes

Impossible Tasks in Seven Against Thebes and Agamemnon College

Aeschylus poses two impossible tasks for his heroes Eteocles in Seven Against Thebes and Agamemnon in Agamemnon. Their decisions in these moral dilemmas rest on the split between family and politics. Aeschylus presents a vision in which politics and family cannot be separated leading to the downfall of these men, yet their calls to action distinguish them in sympathy. In order to splice these decisions open, we must look at how each decision is presented on the stage, as well as their particular motivations.

The theatrical presentation of Agamemnon’s decision, the play’s inciting incident, does not take place with him on stage; instead the chorus presents it to the audience as a history. The decision to sacrifice Iphigenia in order to propel his ships to Argos has been executed before the Watchman’s opening monologue. This changes the veracity of the history, for it is not simply happening before us. Therefore, we must examine who is telling us this oral history and what benefits or biases they have in recounting it this way.

The chorus is comprised of old men, who served as political advisors to Clytemnestra while Agamemnon was away fighting the war. This eliminates them from the infallible; they are essentially politicians...

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