MODERN SONGS+ GREEK MYTH series-
But when the house goes up in flames / no one emerges triumphantly from it
-“Michael Myers Resplendent - the Mountain Goats” / the Ruination of Atreus’ House
Tantalus began the mess that became the foulest house in Greek legend by inviting the Olympian host to dinner where the meal was his son’s flesh. He had wanted to test their omniscience, and for all but distracted Demeter the test came back positive: they were offended at what he had done and cast Tantalus to starve in Hades for eternity, restoring the son [Pelops] back to life. Irritatingly, Pelops then went on to kill his wife Hippodameia’s father in a chariot race to win her hand [resulting in a curse] and by her had two rotten sons named Atreus and Thyestes. Atreus became a king and Thyestes became jealous, so seduced Atreus’ wife and angled for the throne until he was banished. Later, Atreus pretended to reconcile and invited him home, only to serve Thyestes his own son. Thyestes fled, cursing his brother and all his descendants, taking with him the remaining child [Aegisthus, who was a product of incest between Thyestes and his daughter]. Atreus begot Agamemnon, who would lead the Greek forces at Troy and marry Clytemnestra, and Menelaos, who would marry Helen [sister of Clytemnestra].
The chapter of Agamemnon and Cly begins when Agamemnon killed a sacred deer, boasted that he was a better hunter than Artemis, and then was angered when she stilled the winds so he could not sail to Troy. To appease the goddess, his hand came to sacrifice his most precious possession: his first-born daughter, Iphigenia. Ten years on, he returned from Troy the victor, hand-in-hand with spoils and dragging Cassandra. Clytemnestra, thoroughly wrathful at the insult of the prophetess and the murder of her daughter, meanwhile had taken up with Aegisthus and settled on killing Agamemnon. Through manipulation, she invited her king to walk upon the gods’ tapestries; an act of gross hubris echoing his trampling of the innocents at Troy, of his daughter: all calling back to ancestral child-killing and fully triggering his house’s curse. Together, they entered the palace and outside Cassandra screamed as a vision of Apollo filled her head. The dripping gore of the house revealed; “the house that hates god, an echoing womb of guilt”; past “kinsmen torturing kinsmen" and present "she gores him through! the bath swirls red.” Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon as he washed, for this crime Cassandra sees Orestes [Clytemnestra’s son] would kill her. And like inevitable contagion, the curse would spread.