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Scholars Day: April 15, 2009

Clytemenestra or Cassandra in Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!

Clytie, Sutpen's illegitimate daughter, spends her life serving and observing her family and ultimately dies to cover her father's sins. Clytie's literary namesake, Clytemnestra, was the mythological wife of Agamemnon in Aeschylus' Oresteia. In the Oresteia Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter and returns home from battle with a concubine, Cassandra; angered by her husband's betrayal, Clytemnestra murders her husband and Cassandra. Faulkner suggests that Sutpen meant to name Clytie after the wise Cassandra of Greek mythology, but mixed up the characters. While Sutpen may not have been so keen on mythology, Faulkner demonstrates his understanding of The Oresteia through the loaded identity of Clytie. By exploring the Clytemnestras of both The Oresteia and Absalom, Absalom! we stand to gain a modern commentary on the former and an ancient perspective on the latter.

Presenter: Kathrynn Merrill (Undergraduate Student)
Topic:
Location: 216 Hartwell
Time: 1:30 pm (Session III)

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