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Articles about Iliad

Updated on March 1, 2017

The case of Agamemnon classical texts Iliad

Agamemnon is the well-known leader that conducted the war against Troy. As a leader he can't help making some serious mistakes due to his ego. After the siege of Chryse his troops arrested the daughter of priest Chryses and he was given the girl as a gift/payment because of his high ranking title.

Her father had the possibility to buy his daughter back and take her by offering a great sum of ransom. Chryses was begging for mercy and asked for his daughter back. He clearly implied that Agamemnon’s army should respect god Apollo. Agamemnon’s army said that the priest’s daughter should be given back and the ransom should be accepted.

Agamemnon disagreed. He had the right to do so of course. A king at his era was not obliged to listen and obey to his soldiers. He had the right to decide on his own but he was not right. He made the decision on his own. But why? He liked the girl. He liked her more than his wife as he clearly said that to her father. She was beautiful, intelligent and hard working. He admitted in public that his wife counted less. He had the right to have slaves and love affairs with them though married. But was it the right choice?

He and Clytemnestra had a family. He had already sacrificed his daughter Ifigenia to go to Troy. How many times can you show disrespect to a wife and family? Chryses left Agamemnon’s camp and used the only weapon he had. God’s protection. Apollo got angry. He marched down Mount Olympus “dark as the night” and send his arrows against Agamemnon’s soldiers. Chryses reminded Apollo of the temples he had built to honor him, the sacrifices he made and Apollo helped Chryses to get revenge.

For nine days God’s arrows killed Agamemnon’s army. Agamemnon underestimated first of all his soldiers. The exchange offered by the priest was legitimate and to the benefit of all. His soldiers were his power. He wouldn’t be a king without them. Chryses was a priest. A representative of God. If you obey God, you obey God’s priest. His claim was reasonable. He was the slave’s father. He asked for his child. Agamemnon showed no respect to him as a father. Agamemnon payed no respect either to his own wife and family and followed his will instead.

It would be naïve to add that he didn’t bother to ask Chryseis (the girl) herself. An army, a God, a priest, a family, a wife altogether matter less than a leader? No. Agamemnon’s punishment will be painful. Agamemnon’s story shows that even a leader’s power is not unlimited.

The abduction of Chryse

Agamemnon and Chryses
Agamemnon and Chryses


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