Responses to Monstrosity

Sophocles. Oedipus Tyrannus. 1297-1306. Chorus:

O Calamity, awful for people to see!
By far the most awful I’ve come upon yet!
Hapless man, what madness visited you?
What god has leapt farther than the farthest bound
Onto your jinxed life?
Alas, alas, disaster of a man!
I haven’t the strength to look at you,
Though there’s much I want to ask and hear.
I gawk instead–you make me shudder so.

Freud. The ‘Uncanny.’

The uncanny: “It undoubtedly belongs to all that is terrible–to all that arouses dread and creeping horror.”

“Everything is uncanny that ought to have remained hidden and secret, and yet comes to light.”

ὦ δεινὸν ἰδεῖν πάθος ἀνθρώποις,
ὦ δεινότατον πάντων ὅσ᾽ ἐγὼ
προσέκυρσ᾽ ἤδη. τίς σ᾽, ὦ τλῆμον,
προσέβη μανία; τίς ὁ πηδήσας
μείζονα δαίμων τῶν μακίστων
πρὸς σῇ δυσδαίμονι μοίρᾳ;
φεῦ φεῦ, δύσταν᾽:
ἀλλ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ἐσιδεῖν δύναμαί σε, θέλων
πόλλ᾽ ἀνερέσθαι, πολλὰ πυθέσθαι,
πολλὰ δ᾽ ἀθρῆσαι:
τοίαν φρίκην παρέχεις μοι.

white theater mask crying tears of blood

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at

Leave a Reply