The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0877 Wednesday, 18 April 2001
Date: Tuesday, 17 Apr 2001 13:07:51 -0400
Subject: 12.0862 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye
Comment: Re: SHK 12.0862 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye
The dramatic idea of "pollution" goes back at least as far as Sophocles'
The poetic translation I have to hand is Theodore H. Banks, and he uses
"pollution" and "polluted" over and over to refer both to the literal
pollution of unburied rotting corpses and the metaphorical pollution of
the marriage bed. I suspect other translators may also use pollution
as a descriptor of what is going on in Thebes.
Prose translation by R.C. Jebb uses "defiling" "cleansing" "taint"
"spreading pestilence" and "defiler" before having Oedipus say "I
pollute the bed of the slain man" (this when he still hasn't
acknowledged that Laius is his father, only that he is Laius' murderer).
I won't scan the text further; point made :)
The metaphorical use of pollution here does not parallel precisely the
idea of a whole culture polluted, or even a court polluted, but does
point to the concept as having a long history of being not just literal
substances but also spiritual and/or ethical defilement.
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