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Aeschylus: Agamemnon

3. Fate, Free Will and Human Responsibility

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About this Lecture


In this section, we think about the intersection of fate, free will and human responsibility in the play, thinking in particular about ‘multiple determination’, folly as an external force, and the concept of inherited guilt.


In this course, Dr Oliver Thomas (University of Nottingham) explores Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, the first part of Aeschylus’ great trilogy, the Oresteia, which was first performed in Athens in 458 BC. After a brief introduction to the trilogy as a whole, we spend some time thinking about two key concepts in the play—justice and human responsibility—before moving on to think about characterisation (in Greek tragedy in general, and of Clytemnestra in particular), and the power of the spoken word in the play. In the last section, we think some of the things that make Aeschylean Greek recognisable Aeschylean, focusing in particular on his use of compound-words, as well as his use of metaphor.

This course is designed for students taking OCR AS/A Level GCE in Classical Civilization, AS Unit CC4 (Greek Tragedy in its context).


Oliver studied Classics at Oxford University as both an undergraduate and a postgraduate student. In 2008-11, he held a research fellowship at Christ Church, Oxford, and in 2011-14 he was a lecturer at Cambridge University. He joined the University of Nottingham as a lecturer in February 2014.

Oliver's particular area of expertise is in ancient Greek literature and religion, more specifically hymns, and more specifically still the Homeric Hymns. He has also written a book about one of Aeschylus' tragedies, and is currently doing his best to get to grips with Greek science.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Thomas, O. (2018, August 15). Aeschylus: Agamemnon - Fate, Free Will and Human Responsibility [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Thomas, O. "Aeschylus: Agamemnon – Fate, Free Will and Human Responsibility." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,