CW: Excessive Violence; Genocidal Thoughts
Right before this scene, Adrastos has begged Menelaos to take him as a hostage and ransom him alive to his father
Homer, Iliad 6.52-65
“And then [Menelaos] was intending to give Adrastus
To an attendant to take back to the Achaeans’ swift ships
But Agamemnon came rushing in front of him and spoke commandingly
“Oh my fool Menelaos, why do you care so much about people?
Did your house suffer the best treatment by the Trojans?
Let none of them flee dread death at our hands,
Not even a mother who carries in her womb
a child that will be a boy, let not one flee, but instead
Let everyone at Troy perish, unwept and unseen.”
The hero spoke like this and changed his brother’s mind,
Since he advised properly. He pushed the hero
Adrastos away from him with his hand, but strong Agamemnon
Struck him in the throat. He was turned down and Atreus’ son
Stepped on his chest with his foot and retrieved his dark spear.
καὶ δή μιν τάχ’ ἔμελλε θοὰς ἐπὶ νῆας ᾿Αχαιῶν
δώσειν ᾧ θεράποντι καταξέμεν· ἀλλ’ ᾿Αγαμέμνων
ἀντίος ἦλθε θέων, καὶ ὁμοκλήσας ἔπος ηὔδα·
ὦ πέπον ὦ Μενέλαε, τί ἢ δὲ σὺ κήδεαι οὕτως
ἀνδρῶν; ἦ σοὶ ἄριστα πεποίηται κατὰ οἶκον
πρὸς Τρώων; τῶν μή τις ὑπεκφύγοι αἰπὺν ὄλεθρον
χεῖράς θ’ ἡμετέρας, μηδ’ ὅν τινα γαστέρι μήτηρ
κοῦρον ἐόντα φέροι, μηδ’ ὃς φύγοι, ἀλλ’ ἅμα πάντες
᾿Ιλίου ἐξαπολοίατ’ ἀκήδεστοι καὶ ἄφαντοι.
῝Ως εἰπὼν ἔτρεψεν ἀδελφειοῦ φρένας ἥρως
αἴσιμα παρειπών· ὃ δ’ ἀπὸ ἕθεν ὤσατο χειρὶ
ἥρω’ ῎Αδρηστον· τὸν δὲ κρείων ᾿Αγαμέμνων
οὖτα κατὰ λαπάρην· ὃ δ’ ἀνετράπετ’, ᾿Ατρεΐδης δὲ
λὰξ ἐν στήθεσι βὰς ἐξέσπασε μείλινον ἔγχος.
Schol. bT Ad 6.58-59b ex
These words are despicable and ill-fit to a kingly character. Through them [Agamemnon] reveals his animal nature. The audience, because they are human, hate something excessively bitter and dehumanizing like this. This is why [poets] conceal people who do these kinds of things in tragedies off stage and they only signal what has happened through the voices that can be heard or through later messengers, so that they [the poets] might not be hated along with what is performed.
But note that if these words had been spoken before the oath, then there would be a reason for complaint. But since they follow the oaths and their breaking, Agamemnon is not problematic. For the audience also practically wants this: the disappearance of the race of oath breakers.”
ex. μηδ’ ὅντινα<—μηδ’ ὃς φύγοι>: μισητὰ καὶ οὐχ ἁρμόζοντα βασιλικῷ ἤθει τὰ ῥήματα· τρόπου γὰρ ἐνδείκνυσι θηριότητα, ὁ δὲ ἀκροατὴς ἄνθρωπος ὢν μισεῖ τὸ ἄγαν πικρὸν καὶ ἀπάνθρωπον. ὅθεν κἀν ταῖς τραγῳδίαις κρύπτουσι τοὺς δρῶντας τὰ τοι-αῦτα ἐν ταῖς σκηναῖς καὶ ἢ φωναῖς τισιν ἐξακουομέναις ἢ δι’ ἀγγέλων ὕστερον σημαίνουσι τὰ πραχθέντα, οὐδὲν ἄλλο ἢ φοβούμενοι, μὴ αὐτοὶ συμμισηθῶσι τοῖς δρωμένοις. λεκτέον δὲ ὅτι, εἰ μὲν ἐλέγετο ταῦτα πρὸ τῆς ἐπιορκίας, ἔγκλημα ἂν ἦν· ἐπεὶ δὲ μετὰ τοὺς ὅρκους καὶ τὴν παράβασιν, οὐκ ἐπαχθὴς ᾿Αγαμέμνων· σχεδὸν γὰρ καὶ ὁ ἀκροατὴς τοῦτο βούλεται, τὸ μηδὲ γένος ἐπιλιμπάνεσθαι τῶν ἐπιόρκων.