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For one woman he whipped men on towards war;
For one woman he sent thousands to slaughter;
For one woman he sailed to a distant shore;
And defiled it with the blood of his daughter.
Yet here I sit, his proud forsaken wife,
Powerless to stop him or bring him home,
Helpless as he takes my dear daughter’s life,
Dilutes her blood through the black seafoam.
He lured her in with promise of wedlock,
Ever trusting, she eagerly joined him,
Never suspecting the execution block,
In her bridal gown, amidst marriage hymns.
They say he led her, dry-eyed, down the aisle,
Towards the priest, the sacrificial pyre,
The trap he had laid through his own cruel guile,
Deaf to her screams as she was consumed by fire.
He stood there and watched her take her last breath,
Used the gods to absolve him from his crime,
And still he thwarts retribution, cheats death,
Remains unscathed all through wretched wartime-
Sacking cities, cutting down sinless men,
Desecrating sacred temples with blood,
Defying the gods again and again,
The filicide whose triumph is not judged.
And now he sails here with the spoils of war,
Expecting me to welcome him back home,
Back to Argos, a city he forswore,
When he abandoned it for red seafoam,
I stayed behind to rule our plundered walls,
For long, lonely years I nurtured this city,
Restored former glory to our high halls,
Wrung control from the elders’ committee.
And now I am to hand over my power,
Hard-won over ten long years of plotting,
Resign myself to an ivory tower,
Debase myself with bowing and squatting.
Be the servile wife of a man I despise,
Docile as he defiles our marriage-bed,
As men laugh at my compliant demise,
Chastised back to my needle and thread.
I am Clytemnestra, daughter of Zeus,
Immortal blood flows through these royal veins,
Each day he draws closer tightens the noose,
With which I shall repay all of his pains,
I shall not submit to rule by this man-
Agamemnon, offspring of a cursed house,
Whose father murdered his kin and clan,
Who revels in his own profane hubris.
So let him sail home but let him beware,
If the gods let him live with crimes unpaid,
If Father Zeus will ignore my faithful prayer,
I will not stop in my holy crusade,
Until he has repaid for his crimes in blood,
Until the shades of Troy beg for pity,
‘Til the Simoeis halts its corpse-full flood,
And his name is erased from this city.
I shall lay a trap, just as he has done,
Smile as I greet him with warm open arms,
Entrap him in a web so finely spun,
He will have no cause for any alarms,
I will play the dutiful wife for now,
Put him at ease, carefully draw him a bath,
Then I shall have my chance to fulfil my vow,
And send Agamemnon down the black path.
The elders of Argos may scorn my reign,
They may rejoice now at their King’s return,
But here I sit and here I shall remain,
And all those who oppose me will soon burn.
I shall be baptised through Agamemnon’s death,
In his blood I shall be a man reborn,
The elders will kneel or face their last breath,
A Queen to be revered, a king to be mourned.
So come, hurry home my dear husband,
The web has been woven, your wife awaits,
Your city is now one that I command,
And your life is now in the hands of the Fates.