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In Greek myth, Clytemnestra was the daughter of the Spartan king Tyndareus and Leda. She was the sister of Helen of Troy. She married Agamemnon and bore him three daughters, Ephigeneia, Chrysothemis and Electra; and a son, Orestes. Whilst Agamemnon was away at the Trojan War she took a lover, Aegisthus. Upon her husband's return, she murdered him and his concubine, Cassandra, in the bath. Upon reaching adulthood, Orestes killed Clytemnestra and Aegisthus.

The story has featured in many dramatic interpretations - from Aeschylus in the 5th century B.C. to Richard Strauss' 20th century opera, Electra - due to the interest in the interplay in the characters of the various protagonists in the drama.