Clytemnestra’s Bind: The House of Atreus

Susan C Wilson

Neem Tree Press


Wilson’s novel begins with Clytemnestra’s first marriage to King Tantalus of Mycenaea gentle, caring man who dotes on Clytemnestra and their new child, Iphitus. The palace was the scene of royal infighting and the slaughter of Tantalus’ half-siblings. Clytemnestra seems to hear the echo of the dead children’s screams, yet she feels the worst is in the past and that she and Tantalus can look forward to raising their son in peace. Then Agamemnon, claimant to the throne of Mycenae, strikes. In an orgy of violence, the usurper kills Iphitus and Tantalus and becomes king.


Agamemnon fathers three daughters with Clytemnestra, but he pays little attention to them. Only the birth of a son, Orestes, brings him any satisfaction, as having an heir promises continuity of rule for his royal house. Clytemnestra finds a form of power through apparent submission to her new husband, but she has never forgotten the loved ones who fell to his crimes. Revenge is never far from her thoughts.

Agamemnon is ambitious for further conquest, and the elopement of Paris of Troy with Clytemnestra’s sister Helen gives him a righteous excuse. Agamemnon commands the warbands of Mycenae and its Greek allies, and they set sail for Troy. Clytemnestra allies herself with Aegisthus, exiled prince of Mycenae, and together they plot to bring about revenge against Agamemnon.


Trigger warnings: this novel contains incidents of infanticide, rape, murder, cannibalism, and sexual abuse. Bronze Age Greece was a violent and chaotic place, and Wilson’s work doesn’t shy away from any of it. Clytemnestra’s story in the past has almost always been told with a denigrating male-oriented slant that belittles her for daring to stand up for herselfWilson’s Clytemnestra emerges not as a schemer but as a woman wronged who seeks redress for the harm done to her and her children. Lovers of Ancient Greece will love this book.