Friday, 29 January 2010
Axes have been around for a good eight thousand years or so.
Chances are good some woman somewhere killed someone with one soon after they showed up on the scene - but the first female axe murderer that I'm aware of is Clytemnestra -- figure of Greek myth, offspring of perhaps the all-time weird sex scene: that of Zeus (that's the King of the Gods, Zeus) seducing and/or raping her mortal mother Leda while disguised as a swan.
Later that night, Leda goes for seconds with her husband Tyndareus (King of Sparta at the time); this sperm-filled freakfest resulted in four children, borne of 'two eggs': Clytemnestra and Castor were Tyndareus' and therefore mortal, Helen and Polydeuces were Zeus' and therefore immortal. You can perhaps see where our heroine got a bum steer - not only was she not immortal like one brother & sister (and her human brother Castor got to be half-immortal later on too), but her sister Helen was considered nothing less than the most beautiful woman in the world.
Clytemnestra grows up and marries Tantalus (King of Lydia). Hubby #1's second cousin was Agamemnon (King of Argos and/or Mycenae), a nice enough guy when played by Sean Connery in Time Bandits sure, but he kills cousin Tantalus and takes Clytemnestra to be his wife. So again, not a nice deal for her.
And things aren't getting better for Clytemnestra just yet either. Husband #2 Agamemnon goes on to lead the Greeks during the Trojan War - the war to win her sister Helen back from the Trojans, remember - and during this war he has their daughter Iphigeneia sent out to him on the pretext of her marrying Achilles (played by Brad Pitt in Troy, you may recall), only to then kill her as a way of getting the weather to improve.
So it's hard to fault Clytemnestra back at home for hooking up with Aegisthus. This guy's mother was also his sister, and after he was born she abandoned him, forcing him to suck at a goat's titty just to survive. I'm guessing he had some issues also. Anyways, when hubby #2 finally got back home from the Trojan War, Aegisthus gave Clytemnestra the head's up and she decapitated Agamemnon and his new Trojan ho Cassandra with an axe* (I'd like to say she didn't see it coming).
Clytemnestra and Agamemnon had other children besides meteorological human sacrifice Iphigeneia; among these was a boy, Orestes, and the original Daddy's girl, Electra. Now, these two weren't too thrilled about their mother having killed their father (even though their father had killed their mother's first husband), and you can probably guess where this is going -- these two bad seeds get together with mutual sex-toy (and Agamemnon's nephew) Pylades and the three decide to kill Aegisthus and Clytemnestra.
They show up at the couple's place and make short work of Aegisthus. Clytemnestra is told by her servants of his death and declares, "bring me my man-killing axe" - an awesome line that portends more female axe chopping and bloody action. Sadly, things go the other way, she doesn't get her hands on the axe, and Orestes kills her too - but not she before curses him old-school. After killing his mom, Orestes finds himself hounded by Furies. In the end, the only thing that'll set things right is bathing in pig's blood at the Temple of Delphi.
*I should note that some scholars believe axe is an incorrect translation and that Clytemnestra used a sword. Axe is better though, all the way. Let's just go with axe.