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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: August ::
Re: Tempest and Faust
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0720  Monday, 3 August 1998.

[1]     From:   Joe Conlon <
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        Date:   Saturday, 1 Aug 1998 09:35:41 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0706  Re: Tempest and Faust

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Sunday, 02 Aug 1998 18:36:19 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0706  Re: Tempest and Faust


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joe Conlon <
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Date:           Saturday, 1 Aug 1998 09:35:41 -0500
Subject: 9.0706  Re: Tempest and Faust
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0706  Re: Tempest and Faust

To reply to Stuart:  First, thanks for an excellent and thought
provoking post.  You got me thinking about historical figures who lay
down their power willingly.  I came up with two examples that I think at
least come close: The ancient Romans had Lucius Cincinnatus who assumed
the dictatorship in time of his country's need and then as soon as the
crisis was over, renounced his position and returned to being a farmer.
Secondly would be George Washington who declined to run for a third term
as president although begged to do so by nearly everyone.  It is said
that King George III and the English thought this was so astonishing
that it was almost unbelievable.  I have read that Washington did have
the Cincinnatus example in mind when he declined.

Joe Conlon, Warsaw, IN, USA

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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 >
Date:           Sunday, 02 Aug 1998 18:36:19 -0700
Subject: 9.0706  Re: Tempest and Faust
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0706  Re: Tempest and Faust

Stuart Manger writes:

> He [Prospero] apparently had the power of life and death in some form or
> other, but he
> renounces it. I cannot think of anyone in history who has done that, and
> been totally and indivisibly human? Certainly not in literature.

Charles V retired to a monastery.  Montaigne spent a good deal of effort
extracting himself from the office of mayor of Bordeaux.  More recently,
even President Suharto, a man not given to acts of humility, was willing
to give up power and become a 'sage'.  There's a pattern in all this:  I
think it has to do, in the west at least, with Plato's dictum that the
true philosopher king will only take up office because he's forced to.
His true vocation, which he has to give up in order to enter the
political world, is transcendent.

The real irony with Prospero is that he gives up power in order to
become more political.  His position on the island, after all, is a sort
of existential fulfillment of the prison he has chosen for himself.
When he was in Milan, he ignored the state in order to retreat into his
library.  On the island, he gets the prison he not only deserves, but
also desires-complete isolation, absence of responsibility, and enormous
leisure-time to study.  Like some of the saints etched by D

 

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