Greek tragedies generally have lots of moral lessons attached to them. Some tell that if we try to trick fate we will pay the price, others that if we go against authority we may not come out as winners in this world but we may receive some spiritual satisfaction, and others just let us know that we shouldn’t mess with mothers.
The International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama 2018 plans to tell many tales but the one on the schedule this week is the Aeschylean tragedy Agamemnon, directed by the internationally renowned Cezaris Grauzinis for two performances at Curium Ancient Theatre.
Agamemnon, the first part of the Aeschylus’ trilogy, Oresteia – followed by The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides – tells the story of the homecoming of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, after the Trojan war. The king, played by Yannis Stankoglou, returns home to Argos as the victor of the ten-year war of Troy and with Cassandra (Iovi Fragatou), the daughter of Priam, the king of Troy – who he plans to treat as his wife. His current wife, Clytemnestra (Maria Protopappa), has other plans. She welcomes him back home with effusive praise and honours, however it is quickly revealed that her enthusiasm conceals a well-orchestrated plan. She and her lover Aegistus have decided to take revenge for the murder of her daughter, Iphigenia, sacrificed by Agamemnon to get the Greek ships afloat over ten years ago. After the king is gone, Clytemnestra assists her son Aegisthus to become king of Argos. But the story of Clytemnestra and her children unfolds in part two of the trilogy.
The red carpet she rolls out for Agamemnon’s return foreshadows the impending bloodbath, when she and her accomplice murder the king and Cassandra – who has previously been cursed by the god Apollo (for refusing to be swayed by his courting) to foretell the future but not be believed by anybody, is suddenly possessed by a vengeful Apollo and is made to enter the room, knowing that she too will die by Clytemnestra’s hand.
The trilogy as a whole was originally performed at the annual Dionysia festival in Athens in 458 BCE, where it won first prize. It is considered to be Aeschylus’ greatest work and it is the only surviving example of a complete trilogy of ancient Greek plays.
The renowned Lithuanian director Grauzinis, together with an outstanding group of actors and artists, remind why ancient Greek tragedies are still very popular today.
Agamemnon by Aeschylus
Performance of the tragedy as part of the International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama. July 14. Curium Ancient Theatre, Limassol. 9pm. €5/10. In Greek with English subtitles. Tel: 70-002414