Wealth and Injustice in Agamemnon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The relationship between excessive wealth and unjust behaviour is one of the most prominent themes of Agamemnon. Its influence on the stage action is most apparent in the scene where Agamemnon is persuaded to step on the precious tapestries on his way into the palace while the watching Clytemnestra compares the wealth of the royal house to the limitless abundance of the sea, but wealth and associated ideas are also repeatedly brought to the fore in the play’s choral songs. Until recently, the topic was generally dismissed as of minimal relevance to the actual events of the trilogy, and the chorus’ references to the dangers of overabundance were explained away as part of the traditional wisdom on which they are drawing in an attempt to make sense of Troy’s fall and the violence in the house of Atreus. The theme of wealth has begun to receive the attention that it deserves in recent scholarship, but more remains to be said both about its importance to the explanatory model of injustice put forward by the chorus and about why that model is one that ought to be taken seriously. After a brief discussion of previous scholarship on the topic, this chapter examines a number of the key choral passages in detail (paying particular attention to how they evoke and develop ideas found in the poetry of Hesiod and Solon). It is argued that the picture of injustice and its causes that emerges is less confused and contradictory than has generally been assumed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLooking at Agamemnon
EditorsStuttard David
Place of PublicationLondon
Pages105 - 118
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-3501-4956-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-3501-4953-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Wealth and Injustice in Agamemnon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this