“Constrained to voicelessness by the violence of the bit,
she slipped to the ground her saffron robes,
and with darting, pitiful eyes struck each of her sacrificers.”
—Agamemnon, lines 226-230, Aeschylus, trans. D. Greene & W. Doniger O’Flaherty
They always talk about how fragile I was; what a perfect virgin sacrifice. Agamemnon had this dirty rotten habit of calling me weak. It’s funny because I was always anything but weak. My mother, Clytemnestra was a Spartan woman and my sister Electra, well… most people know about her temperament. Even my brother Orestes was capable of matricide, despite the fact that he needed some coaching in order to do it. And for whatever reason I’m the odd ball in the House of Atreus, weak and fragile amongst the strongest, most violent family members one could hope to have. Somehow despite the wrath flowing through my blood I have been made out to be delicate.
But the stories have it all wrong.
If anything I am just as much a warrior as my father was. It’s sad that my bravery, my sacrifice had to be so that men could reach across the Aegean Sea to steal back a woman who ran away from Greece. Helen had no desire to go back to Menelaus. I was to be gutted like an animal so that my uncle could retrieve my aunt. What a thing to waste bravery on. What a thing to waste the life of one woman to imprison another. But what else would we expect?
I’m not surprised by this unbearable waste just so men can have whatever they want and protect their honor. Ha. They do it all the time. Sometimes I wonder. What would it have been like if Artemis had got her way and stopped the Greeks from ever reaching Troy? I’d still be with my family, for one. My family wouldn’t be dead. Perhaps Achilles would have married me after all. Things are all together more peaceful if women win. But then again, I suppose justice was served eventually. They all followed me to death, one by one, and each of them with the full ability to defend themselves, comfortable in their strength. Not a one was bound and gagged and made to face down a blade with nothing on their side.
None of them could do that. But I did.