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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: February ::
Re: Athenian Tragedy; Portia's Voice
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0065.  Thursday, 2 February 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Grace Tiffany <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Feb 1995 13:15:11 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0060  Re: Oedipus and Greek Tragedy
 
(2)     From:   Phyllis Rackin <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 1 Feb 1995 14:35:06 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0062  Re: Portia's Voice
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Grace Tiffany <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 01 Feb 1995 13:15:11 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 6.0060  Re: Oedipus and Greek Tragedy
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0060  Re: Oedipus and Greek Tragedy
 
Thanks to Piers Lewis for his comments -- in quick reply I just want to say
that the Homeric view of proper behavior is radically different from the
Sophoclean view; for the late 5th century Sophoclean hero -- as well as for the
Aeschylean hero and the Euripidean hero (Philoctetes, Orestes, Pentheus) --
humility is indeed powerfully required and the ability to be humble,
questioning, and accept guidance and wisdom from others (what Creon doesn't do
in Antigone) is crucial to spiritual growth.  This fact need not be understood
in Christian terms; humility is an attribute that transcends religions.
Socrates was a man of his time in advocating a kind of questioning and openness
-- such an attitude, or at least the new valuing of such an attitude, marks not
only the tragic playwrights but the historians concerned with describing
(correctly or propagandistically) the difference between the new Greece and the
bad old Greece in the age of tyrants.  How accurate the vision of Athens they
generated was -- a place where the ability to put ego aside and listen to
reason was practiced and valued (this was the image) -- is of course open to
question; certainly we know they idealized themselves.  But I can't see any
reason to assume that 5th century Athenians simply duplicated the values of a
radically different and centuries-prior Homeric period, especially when the
plays, philosophy, and history so clearly argue otherwise.  Euripides
"Bacchae," The Oedipus Cycle, "Philoctetes," and numerous other plays of this
period (not excepting Aristophanes's great satiric works) dramatize the dangers
of a "reductive moralism" that would limit inquiry and put the egotistical self
at the center of the universe; everything in the plays, including the choral
odes, pushes this message.  In noticing this 20th century readers aren't
imposing moralism on the plays; instead, they're pointing out how strongly the
plays argue against a limiting moralism.  And of course that's why they're so
great and why we should keep reading them!  (In my view of course.)
-- GCT
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Phyllis Rackin <
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Date:           Wednesday, 1 Feb 1995 14:35:06 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0062  Re: Portia's Voice
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0062  Re: Portia's Voice
 
I did notice the repetition of the word "ring," but it never struck me as
musical.  Maybe my spirits are inattentive, but I always thought the speech was
kind of funny.
 

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