The Odyssey by Homer is an epic about a man’s return home after fighting in war. The protagonist of the epic is Odysseus, but interactions with and stories of his fellow veterans abound. The story of Agamemnon’s death upon returning home is retold and referred to numerous times and serves as a warning to Odysseus of the dangers that could exist for him in Ithaka. The ghost of Agamemnon is encountered by Odysseus in the land of the dead and is quite changed from the friend he knew and fought with at Troy. Despite his high place in life and exploits in war, Agamemnon demonstrates the suffering of the returning veteran.
Agamemnon survived the ten year long Trojan War, even as other great warriors such as Achilleus fell. Tales of the war
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It is clear from the descriptions of “widely ruling Agamemnon” that the king had power and his loss was significant (III, 248). Agamemnon shows that he is honor-bound in a way that contrasts with the treachery of Aigisthos. Achilleus fell in battle in Troy and Agamemnon ensured that he was properly memorialized. Achilleus’ body was brought away from the fighting after he was killed and was anointed with unguents. The Greeks cut their hair short and mourned the death for days. After eighteen days his body was burned in an elegant ceremony. Agamemnon describes the whole process with tenderness and a sense of devotion to his fallen friend. Agamemnon is similarly devoted to his homeland. After Troy, he “stepped rejoicing on the soil of his country/ and stroked the ground with his hand and kissed it, and his thronging/ hot tears streamed down, so dear to him was the sight of his country” (IV, 521-523). The loyalty to his brothers-in-arms and his country show that he is guided by a sense of honor that is totally denied him in his death.
Agamemnon in Hades does not appear as the powerful warrior king that he was in life, rather he is a sorrowful figure. The manner of his death and being dead are not celebrated. Upon encountering Odysseus in Hades, Agamemenon “fell to/ lamentation loud and shrill” and Odysseus’ “heart pitied him” (XI, 390-391, 395). Odysseus sensed that Agamemnon in death was different. In life, he