CNN: The “Red Carpet” and the ancient Greek connection (photos)

Historian Amy Henderson explains the connection to CNN

It’s the ship that launched a thousand beauties, and as old as Helen of Troy herself. But what do we really know about the red carpet?
The red carpet predates the Academy Awards by over 2,400 years — at least. Arriving with a sting in its tail, the red carpet has deadly origins. But its modern day incarnation, synonymous with wealth, glamor and stardom, is about as far removed from it’s beginnings as you can imagine. So how did we get to here?
Greek playwright Aeschylus claims the first written mention of a red carpet in “Agamemnon,” dated 458 BC. Clytemnestra, Agamemnon’s wife, speaks of a “floor of crimson broideries to spread / For the King’s path.”

Amy Henderson, historian emeritus at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, explains why:
“Agamemnon goes away to fight (in the Trojan Wars) and leaves his wife Clytemnestra at home. He’s away for a long time, and they both find significant others. When he comes back he’s in love with Cassandra and brings his concubine home with him.”
Despite her own infidelity, Clytemnestra is not amused. In her defense, there were mitigating factors: Agamemnon had made a deal with the gods, sacrificing their 15-year-old daughter so he could put the wind in his sails.

“Let all the ground be red / Where those feet pass; and Justice, dark of yore, / Home light him to the hearth he looks not for,” says the queen.

“She rolls out the crimson carpet to convince him to walk into his death,” says Henderson. Accounts differ, but Clytemnestra either murders Agamemnon in the bath, or he’s slain by her lover. She also kills Cassandra. “It’s not a pretty story,” Henderson adds.
As a conniving early-adopter, Clytemnestra had grim proof of concept that people will follow a red strip of textile.


more at: cnn

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