An Unhomely Homecoming: Encounters with the Uncanny in Seneca’s Agamemnon

Elaine Sanderson (University of Edinburgh)

This paper identifies the Uncanny as a major aesthetic force in Seneca’s Agamemnon, confronting its audience with the same experiences of unhomeliness, displacement, and uncertainty suffered by its internal characters. It begins by demonstrating the unhomely nature of Agamemnon’s homecoming, highlighting the duplicitous implications of the terms in which Agamemnon characterises his safe return and household, and the harmonious dynamics between Agamemnon and Clytemnestra are described. It then argues that this disruption constitutes more than just tragic irony and that this semantic slippage represents a reflection of the kind of uncanny descent into unhomeliness which runs through this episode. Finally, it builds on studies by Dodson-Robinson (2010) and Gunderson (2018) to consider how instances of repetition and doubling – such as the doubling of Troy and Argos; past and present crimes; and Agamemnon’s death(s) foreseen and reported by Cassandra – create a pervasive and recurring sense of the Uncanny throughout the Agamemnon.