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UNREDACTED TESTIMONY OF CLYTEMNESTRA

 

Socrates: Could you state your name and occupation for the record?

Clytemnestra: My name is Clytemnestra, and I am the Queen of Mycenae.

Socrates: What is your relation to the deceased, Agamemnon?

Clytemnestra: He was my husband.

Socrates: How did you come to know Agamemnon?

Clytemnestra: Agamemnon killed my first husband and claimed me. We were thereafter married.

Socrates: Do you have any children from your marriage with Agamemnon?

Clytemnestra: Yes. One son, Orestes. Our marriage also produced three daughters Ė Electra, Chrysothemis, and Iphigenia.

Socrates: Are your children in the courtroom here today?

Clytemnestra: Three of them are.

Socrates: Could you identify your children that are present in the courtroom?

Clytemnestra: (pointing) There is Electra, Orestes, and Chrysothemis.

Socrates: Is Iphigenia present in the courtroom today?

Clytemnestra: No she is not. Iphigenia is dead.

Socrates: How did Iphigenia die?

Plato: Objection. Defense counsel has established no basis on which the witness might have personal knowledge of whether the child is dead or how she died. It is our understanding that the witness in fact has no such personal knowledge, and that defense counsel plans to elicit testimony which is pure speculation and hearsay.

Socrates: Your honor, the Defense will stipulate that Clytemnestra did not actually witness the cause of Iphigeniaís death. However, the testimony that we plan to elicit from Clytemnestra is not only common knowledge in Mycenae, but also crucially important to show Clytemnestraís understanding of how her daughter died and also her state of mind prior to the death of Agamemnon.

Judge: Iíll allow the testimony for now, but the jury is instructed to regard it not as fact, but only for purposes of evaluating the witnessí own perception of Iphigeniaís death. Objection overruled. The witness may answer the question.

Clytemnestra: She was killed by her father, Agamemnon.

Socrates: Why did Agamemnon kill Iphigenia?

Plato: Objection. The question calls for speculation.

Socrates: I offer the same reply as I did to Platoís last objection.

Judge: The objection is overruled, but I would ask that defense counsel rephrase his questions to indicate that the witness is not testifying to personally known facts, but only to her perception of those facts.

Socrates: Iíll rephrase the question your honor. Clytemnestra, what is your understanding of the reason Agamemnon slayed his daughter?

Clytemnestra: He killed her as a sacrifice to the Gods. Agamemnonís brother, Menelaus, was the husband of Helen. As a requirement of participation in Helenís courtship, Agamemnon had once taken the Oath of Tyndareus, agreeing to defend the marital claim of the suitor who won the hand of Helen against any person trying to infringe upon such claim. Paris later sought to steal Helen from Menelaus, and an army was assembled to defend Menelausí honor and his marriage to Helen. When the army attempted to sail for Troy, the wind wasnít blowing in such a way as to allow the army to successfully reach their intended destination. The army was landlocked, and Artemis apparently asked Agamemnon to sacrifice our daughter in order that the winds would be restored and the army could reach Troy.

Socrates: Why did Artemis ask for such a sacrifice from Agamemnon?

Plato: Your honor, same objection. The question calls for speculation

Judge: Objection overruled.

Clytemnestra: Well, the whole reason that the army was landlocked in the first place was because Artemis was mad at Agamemnon. It was Agamemnonís fault that the army could not sail for Troy.

Socrates: Why was Artemis mad at Agamemnon?

Clytemnestra: Agamemnon had previously upset the gods by displaying excessive pride during a hunting trip. He shot a deer from Artemisí sacred herd, and then boasted about the kill. This made Artemis extremely angry, and that is why the winds were not blowing.

Socrates: Was Agamemnon forced to kill Iphigenia by Artemis?

Clytemnestra: No. Agamemnon had a choice. He could have broken his oath in order keep his daughter alive, but instead he chose to keep his oath for his sister-in-law and murder our daughter. He easily had a choice. Artemis didnít force him to do anything.

Socrates: How important is a manís word to the Greekís?

Plato: Objection. The witness is not competent to testify as to the importance of a manís word to the Greeks.

Judge: I agree. The objection is sustained.

Clytemnestra: It is important, but not the most important thing in a manís life. For example, Orestesí servant Pylades broke his oath for a more important cause to him- to murder me. You must always weigh the importance of conflicts, and Agamemnon chose to murder his daughter to support his whore of a sister-in-law.

Socrates: What did you think of Agamemnonís decision to kill his daughter?

Clytemnestra: Well, for one thing, it enraged me more than anything ever has. This was my daughter, who I carried for nine months inside of me. I nursed her at my breast, and he just ripped her from me. IÖIÖ[uncontrollable weeping]

Socrates: Please Clytemnestra, take your time.

Clytemnestra: I was unbelievably angry. I wanted to see him dead.

Socrates: Clytemnestra, did you kill Agamemnon?

Clytemnestra: Yes. When I saw him, I could do nothing but strike back out at him, just like a mother lion would defend her cubs.

Socrates: But, why didnít you strike back at him immediately?

Clytemnestra: I didnít have the chance. He was about to leave for Troy, and was always surrounded by his troops. I could never get near him.

Socrates: But wasnít ten years a long time to have that level of fury?

Clytemnestra: Not at all. Every day that he was gone, I thought about how I couldnít hold Iphigenia, how I couldnít brush her hair or see her play. There was no time when I didnít have anger towards Agamemnon.

Socrates: What about when you were with Aegisthus?

Clytemnestra: Yes, he did provide me some company when my Iphigenia was gone, but my anger towards Agamemnon never dissipated.

Socrates: What was Aegisthusís role in the killing of Agamemnon?

Clytemnestra: Its not like we sat around planning to kill Agamemnon. I was always cursing Agamemnon and saying he must die, and Aegisthius would hear my suffering. When Agamemnon came back to Mycenae, Aegisthus took it upon himself to kill him.

Socrates: Why was Orestes sent away?

Clytemnestra: His sister, Electra, was worried that I would kill him to protect myselfÖ

Plato: Objection. The witness cannot testify as to Electraís state of mind.

Judge: Objection sustained. That last statement will be stricken.

Clytemnestra: (remainder of answer) But I would never have killed him- he was my son. I would never have killed him- or any of my children. Electra was my enemy from the day Agamemnon was killed, and yet no harm ever came of her. I never punished her for her disrespect.

Socrates: Was Agamemnon faithful to you during your marriage?

Clytemnestra: Certainly not. When he returned from the war, he brought with him a concubine, Cassandra. Cassandra would sleep with Agamemnon in our bed. He just went about his relationship with Cassandra as if I wasnít even there.

Socrates: Did you try to do anything to stop him?

Clytemnestra: Like what? There is nothing that a woman could do in Greek society to prevent the infidelity of her husband. Women were powerless in Greek society. I just had to deal with it. I had to live with this man who killed my daughter and slept with another woman in my bed before my own eyes.

Socrates: No further questions.

 

Cross Examination of Clytemnestra

Plato: Clytemnestra, you didnít actually see Agamemnon kill Iphigenia, did you?

Clytemnestra: Well, no; but the murder was common knowledge throughout the land.

Plato: But you didnít actually witness Agamemnon kill Iphigenia, did you?

Clytemnestra: No, I did not.

Plato: Clytemnestra, youíve heard the testimony of Dr. Wilson, have you not?

Clytemnestra: Yes, I have.

Plato: And you are aware that Dr. Wilson testified that there are many people who believe that Iphigenia was never in fact murdered, but rather that the murder was staged, and that she now lives as a high priestess in Tauris.

Clytemnestra: Yes, I heard that testimony from Dr. Wilson.

Plato: And this is not the first time you have heard of such an alternative account of the fate Iphigenia, is it?

Clytemnestra: No, I had heard this story before.

Plato: In fact, you had heard this story before the murder of Agamemnon, hadnít you?

Clytemnestra: Yes.

Plato: In fact, Agamemnon himself told you this story, as did a messenger, right?

Clytemnestra: Yes.

Plato: So you were aware that there was at least a chance that Iphigenia was still alive, isnít that so?

Clytemnestra: No. I didnít believe the story when it was told to me.

Plato: You didnít believe the story? (incredulously)

Clytemnestra: No, I did not.

Plato: Well then, can we assume that you at least made a reasonable inquiry into the potential veracity of the story before arriving at this state of disbelief?

Clytemnestra: Well, no.

Plato: So let me get this straight, when faced with the possibility that your precious Iphigenia was still alive and well, you didnít even make a minimal effort to ascertain the truth of this story?

Clytemnestra: No, I didnít. As far as I knew, Agamemnon had killed Iphigenia.

Plato: And you "knew" this because that is what you were told, right?

Clytemestra: Yes.

Plato: And not because of anything you saw, right?

Clytemnestra: Thatís right.

Plato: So, upon coming to this unfounded conclusion that Iphigenia was dead and that Agamemnon killed her, you were very upset with Agamemnon, correct?

Clytemnestra: Yes, I was very upset and angry.

Plato: In fact, you wanted Agamemnon dead, didnít you?

Clytemnestra: Yes I did, he killed my daughter.

Plato: After you killed Agamemnon, you married Aegisthus, right?

Clytemnestra: Yes.

Plato: And Aegisthus now sits as the King of Mycenae, isnít that correct?

Clytemnestra: Yes.

Plato: Clytemnestra, letís talk a little about your relationship with Aegisthus. You were sleeping with Aegisthus prior to the killing of Agamemnon, werenít you?

Socrates: Objection your honor. Not only is this irrelevant, but the Prosecution is seeking only to inflame the jury and attempt to tarnish the character of the witness in the eyes of the jury.

Plato: The testimony is highly relevant and not excluded under the character evidence rules because it goes directly to motive.

Judge: Objection overruled. The witness must answer the question.

Plato: Again, you were sleeping with Aegisthus prior to the killing of Agamemnon, werenít you?

Clytemnestra: Well, yes.

Plato: Clytemnestra, you wanted to see Agamemnon dead so that Aegisthus could usurp the thrown from him, didnít you?

Clytemnestra: No, thatís not true. I wanted Agamemnon dead because he killed my Iphigenia.

Plato: But you didnít in fact kill Agamemnon until 10 years after he allegedly killed Iphigenia, right?

Clytemnestra: Yes, thatís right. But only because I couldnít get to him earlier.

Plato: So, for 10 years, you and Aegisthus plotted the murder of Agamemnon, isnít that right?

Socrates: Objection. Iíve had enough of this. The prosecution is badgering the witness.

Judge: Sustained. Watch it Plato!

Plato: No further questions your honor.

 

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