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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: February ::
Re: Athenian Tragedy
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0068.  Saturday, 4 February 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Edward M Moore <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 Feb 1995 09:08:20 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Oedipus
 
(2)     From:   Bob Gingher <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Feb 1995 12:43:47 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0065 Re: Athenian Tragedy
 
(3)     From:   Ron Macdonald <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 Feb 1995 14:12:17 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Epic and Tragedy
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward M Moore <
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Date:           Thursday, 02 Feb 1995 09:08:20 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Oedipus
 
"Sophocles seems to have been willing to contemplate . . . the possibility that
the will of the gods cannot be known, that their values and purposes are not
commensurate with ours; and that therefore the cosmos may be fundamentally
irrational. Or nonrational."  --Piers Lewis
 
Perhaps . . . but. The fact that the prophecy comes true, despite the efforts
of Laius, Jocasta, and Oediupus, shows that the cosmos, at least at the level
of the gods' relation to humans is rational and ordered. Had they been able to
thwart Apollo's prophecy, what kind of universe would there be?  Jocasta
dismisses such prophecies (tr. Grene, 707ff.), as does Oedipus (964ff.), and
Jocasta even concludes "Why should man fear since chance is all in all/ for
him, and he can clearly foreknow nothing?" (977-8). Of course she is proved
wrong--there is an order, inscrutable, but not at our level irrational as would
be the case if Oedipus were the "child of Fortune" (1080) he at one points
proclaims himself.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Gingher <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Feb 1995 12:43:47 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0065 Re: Athenian Tragedy
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0065 Re: Athenian Tragedy
 
Interesting commentary. The Sophoclean sense of humility and morality invites
consideration of the way Mystery, the big "Other," breaks into the lives of
procrustean heroes, the loss-before-transformation route of the circular
journey. One of my best teachers once noted that the hero or heroine of a work
is always the one with the most to lose. Creon does come to mind...
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ron Macdonald <
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Date:           Thursday, 02 Feb 1995 14:12:17 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Epic and Tragedy
 
I have to agree with Grace Tiffany that values differ between Homeric epic and
the tragedy of fifth century Athens.  Indeed, I think the _Oresteia_ of
Aeschylus can be plausibly read as a self-conscious critique of Homeric values,
a dramatization of the superseding of the archaic warrior ethos, a progress
from aristocratic _oikos_ to democratic _polis_.  It's not just that values are
different: Aeschylus' trilogy is a celebration of difference.
 
                                       --Ron Macdonald
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