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Agamemnon Betrayed and the Three of Swords

The story of the betrayal of Agamemnon has been told in Aeschylus's play Agamemnon, which is a part of the trilogy Oresteia. Agamemnon was the son of Atreus, the king of Mycenae. He married Clytemnestra, daughter of King Tyndareus the King of Sparta, after killing her husband Tantalus.

Euripides the ancient Greek playwright, paints a very gory scene wherein Aegisthus the lover of Clytemnestra, brutally rammed the sword into his cousin Agamemnon’s chest, aided by the unfaithful wife of the wretched man.

Agamemnon was the king of Mycenae, and the husband of Clytemnestra, who was the sister of Helen of Troy. Agamemnon and Clytemnestra had three daughters named Electra, Chrysothemis and Iphigenia and a son Orestes despite the fact that Clytemnestra had been forced into the marriage after Agamemnon killed her husband and her newborn.

After the abduction of Helen of Troy and before the Trojan War, Agamemnon and his troops were stranded in Aulis, and the power-hungry king of Mycenae was asked to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia if he wanted to set sail for Troy and lay claim to honour.

Agamemnon called the unfortunate daughter of Clytemnestra to Aulis in the guise of getting her married to Achilles and then sacrificed her. Clytemnestra thus had no love for him. In addition at the end of the war, he returned to his kingdom with the seer and Trojan Princess Cassandra as his mistress.  

Clytemnestra had taken on a lover Aegisthus when Agamemnon was away fighting the Trojan War. On his return, she received her husband with all the yearning and affection of a chaste wife, while she plotted against him. After the celebrations of his return were concluded, Clytemnestra led Agamemnon to the bath where the slave girls attended to him.

Once he was done with his bath and the slaves were dismissed, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus murdered Agamemnon in cold blood by stabbing him.  

Dignified: This is first and foremost a card that reflects betrayal. There is a separation and a feeling of being rejected. Agamemnon betrayed Clytemnestra and Iphigenia by inviting her to get married rather than revealing his true motive. Likewise, Clytemnestra betrayed Agamemnon by killing him in cold blood with her lover. The card however also reflects consequences as Agamemnon to an extent is the architect of his own fate.  

Thus the three of swords reflects separation and betrayal and it also can specifically augur or point to divorce. While there is sorrow that stabs through the heart, there is also the opportunity to start anew and thereby make a fresh beginning and learn from past mistakes. Sorrow is the first step towards recovery and therefore, it is best to let go of things in the past and use understanding to cut through the grief. At least the truth has been revealed and one is no longer subjected to false pretence.  

Reversed or Weakly Aspected: Reversed, the feelings of sorrow are not as intense as they were and the healing process has begun. However, it is also possible that the querent is living in denial and therefore not embarking on the journey towards becoming whole.  

Works Cited:

  • The Routledge handbook of Greek mythology: based on H.J. Rose's "Handbook of Greek mythology". Routledge, 2004.

  • Hurwit, Jeffrey M. The Athenian Acropolis: History, Mythology, and Archeology from the Neolithic Era to the Present. Cambridge University Press, 2000. Deacy, Susan.

  • Grimal, Pierre. The dictionary of classical mythology. Wiley-Blackwell, 1996. Littleton, C. Scott and Marshall Cavendish Corporation.

  • Gods, goddesses, and mythology, Volume 1. Marshall Cavendish, 2005. Thompson, Diane P.

  • The Trojan War: literature and legends from the Bronze Age to the present. McFarland, 2004. Salisbury, Joyce E.

  • Women in the ancient world. ABC-CLIO, 2001.

Some Greek Myths used to illustrate the Tarot:

  • Dionysus – The Fool Greco-Roman Mythology

  • Atlantis The Lost Civilization & The Tower

Agamemnon was the son of Atreus, the king of Mycenae. He married Clytemnestra, daughter of King Tyndareus the King of Sparta, after killing her husband Tantalus. He fathered four children with Clytemnestra namely Chrysothemis, Electra, and Iphigenia, and finally a son named Orestes. He betrayed his wife by telling her he wanted to get Iphigenia married and then sacrificing her for favourable winds to sail to Troy for the Trojan war. On his return, he brought back the Trojan Princess Cassandra and was butchered by his wife and her lover Aegisthus. His son Orestes avenged him, by killing his murderers. RETURN

Aegisthus was the lover of Clytemnestra the wife of Agamemnon and helped her butcher her husband. After that, he ruled by her side. In some versions of the myth, however, Aegisthus was the youngest son of Thyestes. Thyestes had an affair with his brother Atreus's wife. As payback for his immoral deed, Atreus killed, cooked and served his brother's sons to him. Needless to say, Thyestes, killed Atreus. Aegisthus was the lover of Agamemnon's wife Clytemnestra. Aegisthus was born after the horrible deed and avenged his brothers by butchering Agamemnon the son of Atreus. He would have killed Orestes the son of Agamemnon as well if Orestes would have been in Mycenae. There are varying versions of the myth and according to the poet Stesichorus, Orestes's nanny smuggled him away to safety. In some versions, however, Electra the sister of Orestes took him away to live with their father's old friend King Strophius of Phocis. RETURN

Helen Of Troy was the daughter of Zeus and Leda the wife of King Tyndareus. She was the sister of Castor and Pollux, and Clytemnestra the wife of Agamemnon. She was the wife of King Menelaus. Her abduction by Prince Paris of Troy led to the Trojan war. When Paris was born, the oracle foretold that he would cause the downfall of Troy. To avoid that his parents left him out to die and he was found by and raised by a shepherd. The seeds of the war of Troy were sown a long time ago when Paris had been a shepherd and had been given the apple of discord and was asked to judge a beauty contest between the goddess of wedded love Hera, the goddess of love Aphrodite, and the goddess of wisdom Athena. Paris was promised dominion over the world by Hera, Athena offered him wisdom and Aphrodite offered Paris the most beautiful woman on earth, who was Helen. With raging Hormones, Paris judged in favour of Aphrodite or Venus. Thus the Trojan war was a result of the Judgment Of Paris. RETURN

Iphigenia was the unfortunate daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Agamemnon had accidentally killed a deer in a grove sacred to the hunter goddess Artemis, the twin of the Sun god Apollo, and as a punishment, she did not allow him to leave Aulis to sail for Troy unless he sacrificed his daughter. As a result, Agamemnon had Iphigenia, was brought to Aulis under the guise of marrying the hero Achilles, and then sacrificed her. In really poignant versions of the myth, however, she is unaware of her impending doom till she is at the altar. According to Euripides' version of the myth, Artemis did not kill the unfortunate girl. but instead took her to present-day Crimea or the Land of the Taurians. She was later rescued by her brother Orestes with the help of the goddess Athena. RETURN

Cassandra was the Princess of Troy and the daughter of King Priam. Apollo, the Sun God, had given Cassandra the gift of sight in exchange for her affection. While she accepted his gift, she did not want to be intimate with him and rejected his advances and he cursed her that she would have the ability to see the future but no one would ever believe her. Therefore, she could see the Trojan war coming and the destruction of Troy but nobody believed her. Eventually, at the fall of Troy, she was raped by the Lesser Ajax, who was one of the Greek warriors and then was gifted to Agamemnon as his mistress and bore him sons. She was taken to Mycenae, and despite her prediction of the death of Agamemnon, no one believed her. She was also murdered in Mycenae. RETURN

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Images Used on The Site. Illustrations from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, known also as the Rider Tarot and the Waite Tarot, reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. 1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. The Rider-Waite Tarot deck is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc


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