Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Women in Greek Myth: Clytemnestra Waits

This is third installment of my series of stories exploring Women in Greek Myth. Click on the link to read Ariadne and Medusa's stories.

Clytemnestra Waits

I hear it again, the laughter, deep in the stygian shadows beyond the temple wall. It is lost almost immediately, stifled by the greedy rush of Boreas’ breathless passage.

“Iphigenia?” The forbidden name escapes me, dusty and threadbare with disuse. It echoes in the empty chamber of my body, the dry husk that was once a womb. The silence wraps around me, a choking blanket which clogs my throat and settles like ashes in my hair. The urn in my hands drops to the floor, spilling spice-scented wine like blood across the marble floor.

“My Queen.” I feel Aegisthus’ hand upon my shoulder and for a moment I am grateful for the human solidity of his touch. I realise I am trembling. Slowly I lift my head, meeting the sightless gaze of the Goddess’ blank stone face.


No seed of life was ever planted in her untouchable body; her belly was never swollen, stretched and scarred by its fecundity. No child has been nourished from her breast, its tiny, pink tipped fingers clutching in greedy exultation at her milk-swollen dugs.

I am cold, so cold. My fingers curl, digging into the palm of my hand.

“He is here,” Aegisthus says. “He is home.”


I turn and I see what is draped over his arms. It is the carpet I have woven these ten long years, purple-red, the colour of the crushed grape. It has stained his open hands, like blood.

Our eyes meet. I nod, slowly. “I am ready.”


Anonymous said...

So many mythical women are strong yet brutally assaulted or somehow torchured by something. It's quite sad and yet reading about them is poetic and beautiful

Meg McNulty said...

Lots of theories about that... about Greek Myth playing out the overthrow of a matriarchal society/feminine power by patriarchal society. But sadly, I think it resonates today because there are so many women who are misused and disempowered or torn different ways. I was literally racking my brains for a happy story about a Greek mythological woman - they are hard to find!!

Clytemnestra is one of those I feel got an unfair deal. Given that her husband lied to her, took their eldest daughter and slaughtered her to get a good wind for Troy and then showed up after ten years with another woman in tow, I can fairly see why she took an axe to him.