PEOPLE OF THE ANCIENT WORLD: Agamemnon (King of Mycenae) 

AGAMEMNON was the King of Mycenae and leader of the Greek army in the Trojan War of Homer’s Iliad. He is presented as a great warrior but selfish ruler, famously upsetting his invincible champion Achilles and so prolonging the war and suffering of his men. 

A hero from Greek mythology, there are no historical records of a Mycenaean king of that name, but the city was a prosperous one in the Bronze Age and there perhaps was a real, albeit much shorter, Greek-led attack on Troy. Both these propositions are supported by archaeological evidence. Unfortunately though, the famous gold mask found in a shaft grave at Mycenae and widely known as the ‘Mask of Agamemnon’ is dated as up to 400 years before any possible Agamemnon candidate that fits a chronology of the Trojan War.

Agamemnon was the son of Atreus, or perhaps grandson, in which case his father was Pleisthenes. His mother was Aerope, from Crete which provided a handy link between the Mycenaean civilization of the Greek Peloponnese and the earlier Minoan civilization of Bronze Age Crete. He was married to Clytemnestra with whom he had three daughters. In one version these are Chrysothemis, Laodice and Iphianassa while in other, later versions they are Chrysothemis, Elektra and Iphigeneia. Agamemnon was the brother of Menelaos, king of Sparta.

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Article by Mark Cartwright on AHE