Monday, January 13, 2020

Jack Harvey writes


King Agamemnon,

most astute of duelists,

his hand on false science

and beauty,

prepares to preside over

his fierce and lawless tribe;

bamboozling fancy effects

out of the evening sun

by happy chance

of light and shade.

A snow-white maid.

Gods approve:

the flimsy robe

doesn't conceal




Avast! The sacrificial axe,

captivating unwieldy kinsmen

and black and cherry-cheeked allies

descends through eons,

fit to kill,

like the lightning of fantasy.

“Little that is lovely is safe,“

“Cave canem,"

the more educated lions in the

crowd sentimentalize

after the bloody act,

and the wind,

cathartic and unwearied,

the prize,

blows painfully hot.

The coast is clear.



  1. King Atreus of Mycenae promised to sacrifice his best lamb to the Artemis, but he gave a golden lamb to his wife Aerrope to hide it from the goddess; she gave it to her lover, his brother Thyestes, who then convinced Atreus to agree that whoever had the lamb should be king and thus took the throne but agreed to restore it to Atreus if the sun moved backwards in the sky. Zeus engineered the miracle, and Atreus banished Thyestes. Then he killed his sons and served them to his brother. An oracle advised Thyestes to rape his daughter Pelopia in order to bear a son who would kill Atreus. This son, Aegisthus, was abandoned by Pelopia but raised by Atreus, who did not know his identity. Aegisthus killed Atreus, restored his father, and exiled his cousins Agamemnon and Menelaus to Sparta. The king of Sparta deposed Thyestes, and his daughters Clytemnestra and Helen married the brothers. Paris of Troy abducted Helen, causing Menelaus to organize an expedition commanded by Agamemnon to recover her. But Agamemnon accidentally killed a deer in a grove sacred to Artemis, who then trapped his fleet at Aulis, on the Euripus strait opposite the island of Euboea, by keeping the wind from blowing. The seer Kalkhas told Agamemnon that the goddess could only be appeased if he sacrificed his oldest daughter Iphigenia, and Menelaus persuaded him that it was his duty to do so. Agamemnon reluctantly lured his daughter and Clytemnestra to Aulis on the pretext of a marriage to Achilles. When Achilles learned of the pretext he offered to prevent the sacrifice, but the Greek army demanded its performance and threatened to kill Agamemnon and his family unless he complied. In some accounts Ipheigenia was killed, but in others Artemis saved her from death by substituting a deer, or maybe Pan transformed into a goat. During Agamemnon's decade-long absence, Clytemnestra, enraged over Agamemnon's murder of her daughter (and of her 1st husband king Tantalus of Pisa) became the mistress of Aegisthus; they killed him upon his return and ruled Mycenae for 7 years, until they were slain by Orestes, the son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Their son Aletes then became king until he was slain by Orestes, who then married Aegisthus' daughter Erigone (whom Artemis had saved from Orestes' vengeance).

  2. "Cave canem" is Latin for "Beware the dog."


Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?