I was surprised to notice, when exploring Wikipedia's Epithets in Homer, that Agamemnon's individual epithet (or at least one of them) was "son of Atreus (Ἀτρείδης Atreídēs: also transliterated Atrīdēs)". That made me look into the House Atreides in 'Dune', and Wikipedia's Paul says:

According to Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert's son and biographer, House Atreides was based on the heroic but ill-fated Greek mythological House Atreus.

Though this is not sourced.

The Wikipedia's Paul further adds:

A primary theme of Dune and its sequels is Frank Herbert's warning about society's tendencies to "give over every decision-making capacity" to a charismatic leader. He said in 1979, "The bottom line of the Dune trilogy is: beware of heroes. Much better rely on your own judgment, and your own mistakes."

This makes it sound as if the link between Agamemnon and the Atreides is concrete, and an example of why heroes are not the best people to follow in everything. Agamemnon himself, after all, is a very complicated character though almost certainly over-haughty. How relevant are these links?

PS. It's interesting that the Atreides' link symbol is a red hawk, as below. Is this also linked to Greek mythology (the eagle being a symbol of Zeus)?

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2 Answers 2


It is relevant because in God Emperor of Dune, Leto II reveals how, over the past 3500+ years, he has had conversations with the memories of his ancestors, including Agamemnon, and is determined that the only way humanity will survive is if he avoids the mistakes that they made during their lifetimes. That gives some legitimacy to his observations and motives.

From Wikipedia:

Using his ancestral memories, Leto II has knowledge of the entirety of human history and is able to recall the effects and patterns of tyrannical institutions, from the Babylonian Empire through the Jesuits on ancient Earth...

  • Please be aware that spoilers are inaccessible to keyboard-only users. Are you sure that the spoiler markup is really necessary?
    – Tsundoku
    Sep 4, 2020 at 13:44
  • 1
    Removed. Not sure of the nuances and culture of this stack. :)
    – Davo
    Sep 4, 2020 at 13:53
  • Does he describe this in more detail there? Is it ever explained how the line gets traced back to Agamemnon?
    – gktscrk
    Sep 4, 2020 at 14:08
  • If you're unfamiliar with the series, Leto II, like his father Paul and sister Alia, has access to the memories and personas of every single one of his ancestors - up to the time of conception of the next member.
    – Davo
    Sep 4, 2020 at 14:26

The prequels provide bit more details:

At some stage of human history, a group of rebels managed to take over the Old Empire. To cement their power, they've transferred their brains into immortal machines called "cymeks" and adopted names of famous characters from the history and mythology - Dante, Barbarossa, Ajax, Hecate...and Agamemnon, who apparently indeed could track his lineage to the ancient Greek hero. This group was later subdued when Omnius - a powerful Thinking Machine - has taken over the control. All cymeks finally met their end during the Butlerian Jihad.

Cymek-Agamemnon fathered (using his saved sperm) an unknown number of children, the last and most promising one was Vorian Atreides, the ancestor of Paul Atreides.

The hawk symbol has also a backstory: during the final Battle for Corrin, Omnius placed most of the human slaves on the orbit in small ships rigged to explode if the attack would commence as a way of deterring the attackers. Vorian, knowing that this is the only moment when humanity could succeed against the machines decided to attack, even after being called "hawk" by his friend Abulurd Harkonnen.

  • +1! I believe the OP was trying to link to the Agememnon of ancient Greece, and not to the cymek, but good catch - I totally forgot about this Agamemnon. No doubt there are multiple ancestral lines (since they must, by definition, all go back all the way ) that lead to the original Agememnon.
    – Davo
    Sep 9, 2020 at 20:30
  • This was a very interesting answer for me, trying things together. I'm actually hard-pressed to choose which one I should accept for this question.
    – gktscrk
    Sep 10, 2020 at 13:01

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