Why Pursue Scholarship? (Hint: Not to Be Happy)

Take time to be sick in the right way….

Epictetus, 3.10-12

“But, am I not a scholar? Why do you pursue scholarship? Servant, do you do this to be content? Do you do it to be safe? Do you do it to grasp nature and live in accordance with it? What stops you when you’re sick from having your principle align with nature? This is the test of the matter, the crucible for any philosopher. This is also a part of life, like a stroll, a voyage, a trip, the fever too! Do you read while walking? No! And you don’t read while having a fever.  But if you walk well, you deliver the promise of one who walks.

If you have a fever, then do what one who has a fever should do. What does it mean to be sick well? Don’t blame god, or man. Don’t be undone by the things that happen. Await death bravely and correctly, and do what is given to you.”

Ἀλλ᾿ οὐ φιλολογῶ;—Τίνος δ᾿ ἕνεκα φιλολογεῖς; ἀνδράποδον, οὐχ ἵνα εὐροῇς; οὐχ ἵνα εὐσταθῇς; οὐχ ἵνα κατὰ φύσιν ἔχῃς καὶ διεξάγῃς;  τί κωλύει πυρέσσοντα κατὰ φύσιν ἔχειν τὸ ἡγεμονικόν; ἐνθάδ᾿ ὁ ἔλεγχος τοῦ πράγματος, ἡ δοκιμασία τοῦ φιλοσοφοῦντος. μέρος γάρ ἐστι καὶ τοῦτο τοῦ βίου, ὡς περίπατος, ὡς πλοῦς, ὡς ὁδοιπορία, οὕτως καὶ πυρετός. μή τι περιπατῶν ἀναγιγνώσκεις;—Οὔ.—Οὕτως οὐδὲ πυρέσσων. ἀλλ᾿ ἂν καλῶς περιπατῇς, ἔχεις τὸ τοῦ περιπατοῦντος· ἂν καλῶς πυρέξῃς, ἔχεις τὰ τοῦ πυρέσσοντος. 13τί ἐστὶ καλῶς πυρέσσειν; μὴ θεὸν μέμψασθαι, μὴ ἄνθρωπον, μὴ θλιβῆναι ὑπὸ τῶν γινομένων, εὖ καὶ καλῶς προσδέχεσθαι τὸν θάνατον, ποιεῖν τὰ προστασσόμενα·

File:Blood letting.jpg
British Library, London. Aldobrandino of Siena: Li Livres dou Santé. France, late 13th Century.

Justice and Hurting People

Homer, Od. 6.181-185

“May the gods grant as much as you desire in your thoughts,
A husband and home, and may they give you fine likemindness,
For nothing is better and stronger than this
When two people who are likeminded in their thoughts share a home,
A man and a wife—this brings many pains for their enemies
And joys to their friends. And the gods listen to them especially”

σοὶ δὲ θεοὶ τόσα δοῖεν, ὅσα φρεσὶ σῇσι μενοινᾷς,
ἄνδρα τε καὶ οἶκον, καὶ ὁμοφροσύνην ὀπάσειαν
ἐσθλήν· οὐ μὲν γὰρ τοῦ γε κρεῖσσον καὶ ἄρειον,
ἢ ὅθ’ ὁμοφρονέοντε νοήμασιν οἶκον ἔχητον
ἀνὴρ ἠδὲ γυνή· πόλλ’ ἄλγεα δυσμενέεσσι,
χάρματα δ’ εὐμενέτῃσι· μάλιστα δέ τ’ ἔκλυον αὐτοί.

Plato, Republic, 1. 333d

“So, [Simonides] means that justice is helping your friends and hurting your enemies?”

Τὸ τοὺς φίλους ἄρα εὖ ποιεῖν καὶ τοὺς ἐχθροὺς κακῶς δικαιοσύνην λέγει;

Plato, Republic, 4. 433b

“And, really, justice is each person taking care of his own business and not meddling in too many things. We have heard this from many others and said it ourselves many times”

“Yes, we have said this.”

Then, I said, “so, then, justice runs the risk in some way of just being taking care of your own business?”

Καὶ μὴν ὅτι γε τὸ τὰ αὑτοῦ πράττειν καὶ μὴ πολυπραγμονεῖν δικαιοσύνη ἐστί, καὶ τοῦτο ἄλλων τε πολλῶν ἀκηκόαμεν καὶ αὐτοὶ πολλάκις εἰρήκαμεν. Εἰρήκαμεν γάρ. Τοῦτο τοίνυν, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, ὦ φίλε, κινδυνεύει τρόπον τινὰ γιγνόμενον ἡ δικαιοσύνη εἶναι, τὸ τὰ αὑτοῦ πράττειν.

Plato, Gorgias 473a5

“Committing harm is worse than suffering it”

τὸ ἀδικεῖν τοῦ ἀδικεῖσθαι κάκιον εἶναι

Thucydides, 3.82.7-8

“To exact vengeance from someone was thought to be more important than not suffering at all. If oaths were ever taken in turn, were strong because each person was at a loss and had no power at all. But as soon as one of them had the advantage, he attached if he saw anyone unguarded: it was sweeter to take vengeance despite a pledge than to do so openly. It was thought generally to be safe and to have won a prize for intelligence, prevailing by deceit. Many wicked people become famous for being clever than good people do for being ingenuous. Men are ashamed by the latter but delight in the former.

To blame for all of these things the love of power and a love of honor. From both, they fell into a voluntary love of conflict. For those who were in charge of the state each claimed identities for themselves, some the equal rights of the masses, the others the wisdom of the aristocrats; while guarding the common goods in word, they were making them the contest’s prize, competing with one another to be pre-eminent, they dared the most terrible things—and they surpassed them with greater acts of vengeance too. They did not regard either justice or advantage for the city…”

ἀντιτιμωρήσασθαί τέ τινα περὶ πλείονος ἦν ἢ αὐτὸν μὴ προπαθεῖν. καὶ ὅρκοι εἴ που ἄρα γένοιντο ξυναλλαγῆς, ἐν τῷ αὐτίκα πρὸς τὸ ἄπορον ἑκατέρῳ διδόμενοι ἴσχυον οὐκ ἐχόντων ἄλλοθεν δύναμιν· ἐν δὲ τῷ παρατυχόντι ὁ φθάσας θαρσῆσαι, εἰ ἴδοι ἄφαρκτον, ἥδιον διὰ τὴν πίστιν ἐτιμωρεῖτο ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ προφανοῦς, καὶ τό τε ἀσφαλὲς ἐλογίζετο καὶ ὅτι ἀπάτῃ περιγενόμενος ξυνέσεως ἀγώνισμα προσελάμβανεν. ῥᾷον δ’ οἱ πολλοὶ κακοῦργοι ὄντες δεξιοὶ κέκληνται ἢ ἀμαθεῖς ἀγαθοί, καὶ τῷ μὲν αἰσχύνονται, ἐπὶ δὲ τῷ ἀγάλλονται. πάντων δ’ αὐτῶν αἴτιον ἀρχὴ ἡ διὰ πλεονεξίαν καὶ φιλοτιμίαν· ἐκ δ’ αὐτῶν καὶ ἐς τὸ φιλονικεῖν καθισταμένων τὸ πρόθυμον. οἱ γὰρ ἐν ταῖς πόλεσι προστάντες μετὰ ὀνόματος ἑκάτεροι εὐπρεποῦς, πλήθους τε ἰσονομίας πολιτικῆς καὶ ἀριστοκρατίας σώφρονος προτιμήσει, τὰ μὲν κοινὰ λόγῳ θεραπεύοντες ἆθλα ἐποιοῦντο, παντὶ δὲ τρόπῳ ἀγωνιζόμενοι ἀλλήλων περιγίγνεσθαι ἐτόλμησάν τε τὰ δεινότατα ἐπεξῇσάν τε τὰς τιμωρίας ἔτι μείζους…

justice

Wine: A Family Planning Secret

Plutarch, Table-Talk 3.5 (652 D)

“Men who drink a lot of wine are rather sluggish at intercourse and they ejaculate semen not at all strong or good for fertilization; instead their attempts at sex with women are cursory and incomplete because of the weakness and frigidity of their seed.

Indeed, however much men suffer because of the cold occurs to them when they are drunk: tremors, heaviness, paleness, sudden jumps in the limbs, senseless speech, a lack of feeling in the joints and extremities. For most men, being drunk results in paralysis, whenever the wine totally expels and defeats the heat.”

οἱ δὲ πίνοντες πολὺν ἄκρατον ἀμβλύτεροι πρὸς τὰς συνουσίας εἰσὶν καὶ σπείρουσιν οὐδὲν εἰς γένεσιν ἰσχυρὸν οὐδὲ κεκρατημένον, ἀλλ᾿ ἐξίτηλοι καὶ ἀτελεῖς εἰσιν αἱ πρὸς τὰς γυναῖκας ὁμιλίαι αὐτῶν διὰ φαυλότητα καὶ κατάψυξιν τοῦ σπέρματος. καὶ μὴν ὅσα πάσχουσιν ἄνθρωποι ὑπὸ κρύους, πάντα συμβαίνει τοῖς μεθυσκομένοις, τρόμοι, βαρύτητες, ὠχριάσεις, σάλοι τοῦ περὶ τὰ γυῖα πνεύματος, ἀσάφεια γλώττης, ἔντασις τῶν Eπερὶ τοῖς ἄκροις νεύρων καὶ ἀπονάρκησις· τοῖς δὲ πλείστοις εἰς πάρεσιν αἱ μέθαι τελευτῶσιν, ὅταν ἐκπλήξῃ παντάπασιν καὶ κατασβέσῃ τὸ θερμὸν ὁ ἄκρατος.

Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4º, Folio 18r

Shoot, Maybe We Just Picked the Wrong Autocrat, Socrates?

Plato, The Statesman 301c-d

Friend: “So, when a ruler acts neither according to laws nor custom but pretends instead to play the part of someone who understands that the best things must be done even against the laws and this imitation arises out of desire and ignorance, shouldn’t that kind of a person be called a tyrant?

Soc. Why wouldn’t he?

Friend. “So then, we say, a tyrant has come and then oligarchy, aristocracy and democracy in turn, since people take it hard when one person is in charge. We disbelieve that a single person could ever be worthy of this kind of power enough to want and to be able to rule with virtue and knowledge, providing justice and fairness rightly to everyone. Instead, we  know he will offend, and kill and harm anyone of us he wants to at any point. Otherwise, we admit that if someone arose who were able to do this, we would greet them happily and have them live with us directing out state alone in a perfectly just way.

Soc: How could it be any other way?

ΞΕ. Τί δ᾿, ὅταν μήτε κατὰ νόμους μήτε κατὰ ἔθη πράττῃ τις εἷς ἄρχων, προσποιῆται δὲ ὥσπερ ὁ ἐπιστήμων ὡς ἄρα παρὰ τὰ γεγραμμένα τό γε βέλτιστον ποιητέον, ᾖ δέ τις ἐπιθυμία καὶ ἄγνοια τούτου τοῦ μιμήματος ἡγουμένη, μῶν οὐ τότε τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕκαστον τύραννον κλητέον;

ΣΩ.Τί μήν;

ΞΕ. Οὕτω δὴ τύραννός τε γέγονε, φαμέν, καὶ βασιλεὺς καὶ ὀλιγαρχία καὶ ἀριστοκρατία καὶ δημοκρατία, δυσχερανάντων τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὸν ἕνα ἐκεῖνον μόναρχον, καὶ ἀπιστησάντων μηδένα τῆς τοιαύτης ἀρχῆς ἄξιον ἂν γενέσθαι ποτέ, ὥστε ἐθέλειν καὶ δυνατὸν εἶναι μετὰ ἀρετῆς καὶ ἐπιστήμης ἄρχοντα τὰ δίκαια καὶ ὅσια διανέμειν ὀρθῶς πᾶσι, λωβᾶσθαι δὲ καὶ ἀποκτιννύναι καὶ κακοῦν ὃν ἂν βουληθῇ ἑκάστοτε ἡμῶν· ἐπεὶ γενόμενόν γ᾿ ἂν οἷον λέγομεν ἀγαπᾶσθαί τε ἂν καὶ οἰκεῖν διακυβερνῶντα εὐδαιμόνως ὀρθὴν ἀκριβῶς μόνον πολιτείαν

ΣΩ.Πῶς δ᾿ οὔ;

SYRACUSE IN SICILY Tyrant HIKETAS 287BC Ancient Greek Coin ZEUS EAGLE NGC  i68761 - $718.80 | PicClick
Tyrant Hiketas of Sicily 287 BCE

Four Years of Presidential Memories: “Come, Let Us Build Walls”

Pindar, Fr. 194

“Come, let us build walls now,
A speaking, intricate, construction of words”

εἶα τειχίζωμεν ἤδη ποικίλον
κόσμον αὐδάεντα λόγων

Dio Chrysostom, Diogenes, Or On Tyranny (6.37)

“And still when he was awake, he would pray to be asleep to forget his fears. But when he was asleep, he jumped up as soon as possible because he believed he was being killed by his dreams, that the golden-plane tree, all the mansions of Semiramis, and the walls of Babylon were useless to him”

ἔτι δὲ ἐγρηγορότα μὲν εὔχεσθαι καθυπνῶσαι ὅπως ἐπιλάθηται τῶν φόβων, κοιμώμενον δὲ ἀναστῆναι τὴν ταχίστην, ἅτε ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν τῶν ἐνυπνίων ἀπολλύμενον, τῆς δὲ χρυσῆς αὐτῷ πλατάνου καὶ τῶν Σεμιράμιδος οἰκοδομημάτων καὶ τῶν ἐν Βαβυλῶνι τειχῶν μηδὲν ὄφελος γιγνόμενον.

Diogenes Laertius, Antisthenes 13

“[Antisthenes used to say] “rational thought is the mightiest wall. It never falls apart or betrays you. We must build walls in our own unconquerable calculations.”

Τεῖχος ἀσφαλέστατον φρόνησιν· μήτε γὰρ καταρρεῖν μήτε προδίδοσθαι. τείχη κατασκευαστέον ἐν τοῖς αὑτῶν ἀναλώτοις λογισμοῖς.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 3.7

“Value nothing which compels you to break your promise, to abandon your honor, to hate, suspect or curse anyone, to be a hypocrite, or to lust after anything which needs walls or decorations.”

Μὴ τιμήσῃς ποτὲ ὡς συμφέρον σεαυτοῦ, ὃ ἀναγκάσει σέ ποτε τὴν πίστιν παραβῆναι, τὴν αἰδῶ ἐγκαταλιπεῖν, μισῆσαί τινα, ὑποπτεῦσαι, καταράσασθαι, ὑποκρίνασθαι, ἐπιθυμῆσαί τινος τοίχων καὶ παραπετασμάτων δεομένου.

Aristotle, Politics 1276a

“Imagine that a set of people inhabit the same place, what should make us believe that they inhabit a single state? For, it could not be walls since it would certainly be possible to build a wall around all of the Peloponnese.”

ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ12 τῶν τὸν αὐτὸν τόπον κατοικούντων ἀνθρώπων πότε δεῖ νομίζειν μίαν εἶναι τὴν πόλιν; οὐ γὰρ δὴ τοῖς τείχεσιν, εἴη γὰρ ἂν Πελοποννήσῳ περιβαλεῖν ἓν τεῖχος·

Dio Chrystostom, The Euboean Discourse 50

“But you will give us a home there, or how will we be able to survive the cold? You have many homes in your walls left empty. One of them is enough for us.”

ἀλλ᾿ ὅπως δώσετε ἡμῖν ἐνθάδε οἰκίαν· ἢ πῶς ὑπενεγκεῖν δυνησόμεθα τοῦ χειμῶνος; ἔστιν ὑμῖν οἰκήματα πολλὰ ἐντὸς τοῦ τείχους, ἐν οἷς οὐδεὶς οἰκεῖ· τούτων ἡμῖν ἓν ἀρκέσει.

Cicero, Republic, 1.19

“Don’t you think that we should know what affects our homes—what is happening and what occurs in a home which is not bounded by our walls but is instead the whole world, the dwelling and homeland the gods gave us to share, since, especially, if we are ignorant of these things, we must be ignorant of many other weighty matters too?”

An tu ad domos nostras non censes pertinere scire, quid agatur et quid fiat domi, quae non ea est, quam parietes nostri cingunt, sed mundus hic totus, quod domicilium quamque patriam di nobis communem secum dederunt, cum praesertim, si haec ignoremus, multa nobis et magna ignoranda sint?

[for the the theme of being a citizen of the world, see this post]

wall

Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi 4-5

“We do not shut ourselves up in the walls of a single city as proof of our great souls, but instead we enter into exchange with the whole world and claim the world as our homeland so that we are allowed to give our virtue a wider field.”

Ideo magno animo nos non unius urbis moenibus clusimus, sed in totius orbis commercium emisimus patriamque nobis mundum professi sumus, ut liceret latiorem virtuti campum dare.

Wall Hating

“Should We Kill Our Mother?”: Reading Euripides’ “Electra” Online

Euripides, Electra 966

“What should we do? Should we kill our mother?”

τί δῆτα δρῶμεν; μητέρ᾿ ἦ φονεύσομεν;’

Euripides, Electra 904

“Our state is hard to please and loves complaints”

δυσάρεστος ἡμῶν καὶ φιλόψογος πόλις.

Euripides, Elektra 112-119

“Quicken the move of your foot with song
Walk on, walk on in tears.
Ah, my life.
I am a child of Agamemnon,
And Klytemnestra also bore me,
That horrible daughter of Tydnareus.
The citizens around call me
Unlucky Elektra.”

σύντειν᾿ ᾠδᾷ ποδὸς ὁρμάν· ὤ,
ἔμβα ἔμβα κατακλαίουσα.
ἰώ μοί μοι.
ἐγενόμαν Ἀγαμέμνονος
καί μ᾿ ἔτικτε Κλυταιμήστρα
στυγνὰ Τυνδάρεω κόρα,
κικλήσκουσι δέ μ᾿ ἀθλίαν
Ἠλέκτραν πολιῆται.

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ since the beginning of the US lockdown in March. As our director Paul O’Mahony has put it, since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Euripides, Elektra 265

“Stranger, women love their husbands not their children.”

γυναῖκες ἀνδρῶν, ὦ ξέν᾿, οὐ παίδων φίλαι

If this week’s story sounds familiar, well, it should. Euripides’ Electra revisits some of the same basic myths as his Orestes and the same story as Aeschylus’ Libation Bearers and Sophocles’ Electra. Of course, since this is Euripides, the tale is far from the same as either playwright or his own treatment. In this version, Electra really is front and center and she has a husband–who doesn’t touch her, don’t worry–and a kind of agency over the action she does not enjoy elsewhere.

This play, then, is famous for its engagement with Aeschylus and Homer (watch for a fabulous scar) while also offering potential parallels for Sophocles’ own version which may have been written later. This play likely proceeds Euripides’ Orestes with its murderous ends and responds in different ways to the Orestes who appears in foreign lands in Iphigenia at Tauris. But it is still Euripides: tune in for the lock of hair and footprints, stay for the Dioscuri taking it all home.

Euripides, Elektra 585-595

“You have come, You have come! O long-coming day,
You are shining bright and you have shown
A clear sign to the city, a torch which went
On an ancient flight from paternal halls
Wandering miserably abroad.
A god, some god, brings us victory,
Friend.
Raise up your hands! Raise up the tale!
Let loose prayers to the gods that with luck,
With luck your brother enters our city now.”

ἔμολες ἔμολες, ὤ, χρόνιος ἁμέρα,
κατέλαμψας, ἔδειξας ἐμφανῆ
πόλει πυρσόν, ὃς παλαιᾷ φυγᾷ
πατρίων ἀπὸ δωμάτων τάλας
ἀλαίνων ἔβα.
θεὸς αὖ θεὸς ἁμετέραν τις ἄγει
νίκαν, ὦ φίλα.
ἄνεχε χέρας, ἄνεχε λόγον, ἵει
λιτὰς ἐς θεούς, τύχᾳ σοι τύχᾳ
κασίγνητον ἐμβατεῦσαι πόλιν.

Scenes (Ian Johnston’s Translation)

1-82: Peasant, Electra
82-400: Orestes, Electra, Chorus, Pylades 
487-613: Old Man, Electra, Orestes, Chorus, Pylades 
774-843: Messenger 
961-1355: Orestes, Electra, Chorus, Clytaemnestra, Dioscuri (Castor and Polydeuces), Pylades  

Euripides, Elektra 430-431

“…whether rich or poor / Everyone is equal when their belly is full.”

πᾶς γὰρ ἐμπλησθεὶς ἀνὴρ / ὁ πλούσιός τε χὠ πένης ἴσον φέρει.

Performers

Peasant – Carlos Bellato
Electra – Evelyn Miller
Orestes – Tim Delap
Pylades/Messenger – Paul O’Mahony
Chorus – Bettina Joy de Guzman and Lanah Koelle
Old Man – David Rubin
Clytaemnestra – Eunice Roberts
Castor and Polydeuces – Carlos Bellato

Special Guest: Robert Groves

Euripides, Elektra 387-388

“Flesh lacking brains / is just decoration for the marketplace”

…αἱ δὲ σάρκες αἱ κεναὶ φρενῶν / ἀγάλματ᾿ ἀγορᾶς εἰσιν…

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

Euripides, Electra 938-945

“What deceived you the most, what you misunderstood,
Is that someone can be strong because of money.
Money can only stay with us for a brief time.
Character is strength, not money.
Character always stands at our sides and bears our troubles.
Wealth shacks up with fools unjustly and then disappears
Leaving their houses once it bloomed for a little while.”

ὃ δ᾿ ἠπάτα σε πλεῖστον οὐκ ἐγνωκότα,
ηὔχεις τις εἶναι τοῖσι χρήμασι σθένων·
τὰ δ᾿ οὐδὲν εἰ μὴ βραχὺν ὁμιλῆσαι χρόνον.
ἡ γὰρ φύσις βέβαιος, οὐ τὰ χρήματα.
ἡ μὲν γὰρ αἰεὶ παραμένουσ᾿ αἴρει κακά·
ὁ δ᾿ ὄλβος ἀδίκως καὶ μετὰ σκαιῶν ξυνὼν
ἐξέπτατ᾿ οἴκων, σμικρὸν ἀνθήσας χρόνον.

Future Readings

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes September 16th

Euripides, Suppliants September 23rd

Euripides, Phoenician Women, September 30

Performing Epic 1, Homer’s Iliad

Euripides, Elektra 1168-1171

“I join in pity for this woman, undone by her children.
God certainly gives out justice at some point or another.
You suffered terribly things, but, wretched woman
You did unholy things to your husband.”

ᾤμωξα κἀγὼ πρὸς τέκνων χειρουμένης.
νέμει τοι δίκαν θεός, ὅταν τύχῃ·
σχέτλια μὲν ἔπαθες, ἀνόσια δ᾿ εἰργάσω,
τάλαιν᾿, εὐνέταν.

For earlier performances see the project home page or the full playlist on YouTube.

Euripides, Elektra 605

“Child, no one is your friend when you’re unlucky”

ὦ τέκνον, οὐδεὶς δυστυχοῦντί σοι φίλος.

Immigrants and the State: Reading Aeschylus’ “Suppliants” Online

Aeschylus, Suppliants 698-703

“May the people whose will rules the state,
The forethought for common good,
Guard well our citizens’ rights
And grant just agreements to foreigners
Without pain before considering
Arming for war.”

φυλάσσοι τ᾿ εὖ τὰ τίμι᾿ ἀστοῖς
τὸ δάμιον, τὸ πτόλιν κρατύνει,
προμαθὶς εὐκοινόμητις ἀρχά·
ξένοισι δ᾿ εὐξυμβόλους,
πρὶν ἐξοπλίζειν Ἄρη,
δίκας ἄτερ πημάτων διδοῖεν.

Aeschylus, Suppliants 454

“I would rather be ignorant than know about these problems”
θέλω δ᾿ ἄιδρις μᾶλλον ἢ σοφὸς κακῶν / εἶναι·

Aeschylus, Suppliants  698-703

“May plague never
Drain this city of its men
Nor may civil war dye with blood
The fields of this land with its native sons.”

μήποτε λοιμὸς ἀνδρῶν
τάνδε πόλιν κενώσαι,
μηδ᾿ ἐπιχωρίοις <–>
πτώμασιν αἱματίσαι πέδον γᾶς·

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ since the beginning of the US lockdown in March. As our director Paul O’Mahony has put it, since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Aeschylus, Suppliants 406-411

“We need deep thinking as a savior,
Like that of a diver reaching to the deep
Looking with an eye not overcome with wine,
How these things may turnout unharmful to the city, first,
And then can have a good end for me too….”

δεῖ τοι βαθείας φροντίδος σωτηρίου,
δίκην κολυμβητῆρος εἰς βύθον μολεῖν
δεδορκὸς ὄμμα μηδ᾿ ἄγαν ᾠνωμένον,
ὅπως ἄνατα ταῦτα πρῶτα μὲν πόλει,
αὐτοῖσί θ᾿ ἡμῖν ἐκτελευτήσει καλῶς

This week we turn to Aeschylus’ Suppliants. This play, produced soon after the Persian Wars, tells of the flight of the Danaids from Egypt to Greece to escape forced marriage to their cousins. It is in part a record of the complex foundational narratives of Greece, stories which made the Greeks kin to the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Persians and more yet still tried to position the leading families as homegrown, indigenous to the most famous cities of the time. Its themes reflect modern concerns about immigration and migration, sexual violence, and what values we assume as part of cultural and political authority. Along with this, though, we find xenophobia, misogyny, early reflections on ethnicity and culture, and a great deal of suffering due to all of these themes

At the foundation of this story is a myth of the Danaids, a tale of global fraternal strife, of how the daughters of Danaus fled marriage with their cousins, the sons of Aegyptus, yet still ended up having to marry them in Greece. On their wedding night, as the traditional story goes, all but one of them used the knives their father had given them to kill their husbands. For this, they were to be punished eternally in the underworld, carrying water to fill a leaking cistern

Aeschylus’ play is set in the run-up to the marriage. The scene is Argos. Danaus has led his daughters there from Egypt. They meet Pelasgus. They ask for his protection. Then their ‘bridegrooms’ arrive.

Aeschylus, Suppliants 397-401

“This case is not easy to adjudicate: do not make me its judge.
I have said before that I would not do this
Without the people even though I am in charge,
In case the people say when things go badly,
“You destroyed the state by honoring immigrants.”

οὐκ εὔκριτον τὸ κρῖμα· μὴ ᾿μ᾿ αἱροῦ κριτήν.
εἶπον δὲ καὶ πρίν, οὐκ ἄνευ δήμου τόδε
πράξαιμ᾿ ἄν, οὐδέ περ κρατῶν, μὴ καί ποτε
εἴποι λεώς, εἴ πού τι μὴ λῷον τύχοι,
“ἐπήλυδας τιμῶν ἀπώλεσας πόλιν.”

Scenes (H. W. Smyth’s translation)

1-233: Chorus, Danaus   
234-503: King (Pelasgus), Chorus, Danaus 
600-824: Danaus, Chorus
843-1073: Chorus, Herald, Danaus, King (Pelasgus), Chorus of Handmaidens

Aeschylus, Suppliants  277-286

“You utter things incredible for me to hear,
That you are of our Argive race!
You look more like the women of Libya
Than the women who are born in this country.
Ah, the Nile might bear a crop like this;
And there’s a similar imprint on the Cyprian clan
Formed there by the male artisans.
I hear also of nomad women in India
Who ride across the land on camels like horses
Neighbors to the Ethiopians!”

ἄπιστα μυθεῖσθ᾿, ὦ ξέναι, κλυεῖν ἐμοί,
ὅπως τόδ᾿ ὑμῖν ἐστιν Ἀργεῖον γένος.
Λιβυστικοῖς γὰρ μᾶλλον ἐμφερέστεραι
γυναιξίν ἐστε κοὐδαμῶς ἐγχωρίοις·
καὶ Νεῖλος ἂν θρέψειε τοιοῦτον φυτόν·
εἰκὼς χαρακτήρ τ᾿ ἐν γυναικείοις τύποις
Κυπρίοις πέπληκται τεκτόνων πρὸς ἀρσένων·
Ἰνδάς τ᾿ ἀκούω νομάδας ἱπποβάμοσιν
εἶναι καμήλοις ἀστραβιζούσας χθόνα

Performers

Chorus: Tamieka Chavis and Tabatha Gayle
Danaus: David Rubin
King (Pelasgus): Damian Jermaine Thompson
Herald: Argyris Xafis

Special Guest: Rebecca Futo Kennedy

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

Aeschylus Suppliants  143-150

“The oar’s flat blade and the linen-stitched
Wooden home walls out the sea
And sends me here without a storm
On fair winds. I do not complain.
May the all-seeing father in time
Bring about favorable ends for us.”

πλάτα μὲν οὖν λινορραφής
τε δόμος ἅλα στέγων δορὸς
ἀχείματόν μ᾿ ἔπεμπε σὺν
πνοαῖς, οὐδὲ μέμφομαι·
τελευτὰς δ᾿ ἐν χρόνῳ
πατὴρ ὁ παντόπτας
πρευμενεῖς κτίσειεν·

Future Readings

Euripides, Electra September 9th

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes September 16th

Euripides, Suppliants September 23rd

Aeschylus, Suppliants  1-4

“May Zeus, god of exiles, take a kind look
At our group which took to ship
From the soft sands of the Nile’s mouth…”

Ζεὺς μὲν ἀφίκτωρ ἐπίδοι προφρόνως
στόλον ἡμέτερον νάιον ἀρθέντ᾿
ἀπὸ προστομίων λεπτοψαμάθων
Νείλου·…

For earlier performances see the project home page or the full playlist on YouTube.

“Come, Let Us Build Walls”

Pindar, Fr. 194

“Come, let us build walls now,
A speaking, intricate, construction of words”

εἶα τειχίζωμεν ἤδη ποικίλον
κόσμον αὐδάεντα λόγων

Dio Chrysostom, Diogenes, Or On Tyranny (6.37)

“And still when he was awake, he would pray to be asleep to forget his fears. But when he was asleep, he jumped up as soon as possible because he believed he was being killed by his dreams, that the golden-plane tree, all the mansions of Semiramis, and the walls of Babylon were useless to him”

ἔτι δὲ ἐγρηγορότα μὲν εὔχεσθαι καθυπνῶσαι ὅπως ἐπιλάθηται τῶν φόβων, κοιμώμενον δὲ ἀναστῆναι τὴν ταχίστην, ἅτε ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν τῶν ἐνυπνίων ἀπολλύμενον, τῆς δὲ χρυσῆς αὐτῷ πλατάνου καὶ τῶν Σεμιράμιδος οἰκοδομημάτων καὶ τῶν ἐν Βαβυλῶνι τειχῶν μηδὲν ὄφελος γιγνόμενον.

Diogenes Laertius, Antisthenes 13

“[Antisthenes used to say] “rational thought is the mightiest wall. It never falls apart or betrays you. We must build walls in our own unconquerable calculations.”

Τεῖχος ἀσφαλέστατον φρόνησιν· μήτε γὰρ καταρρεῖν μήτε προδίδοσθαι. τείχη κατασκευαστέον ἐν τοῖς αὑτῶν ἀναλώτοις λογισμοῖς.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 3.7

“Value nothing which compels you to break your promise, to abandon your honor, to hate, suspect or curse anyone, to be a hypocrite, or to lust after anything which needs walls or decorations.”

Μὴ τιμήσῃς ποτὲ ὡς συμφέρον σεαυτοῦ, ὃ ἀναγκάσει σέ ποτε τὴν πίστιν παραβῆναι, τὴν αἰδῶ ἐγκαταλιπεῖν, μισῆσαί τινα, ὑποπτεῦσαι, καταράσασθαι, ὑποκρίνασθαι, ἐπιθυμῆσαί τινος τοίχων καὶ παραπετασμάτων δεομένου.

Aristotle, Politics 1276a

“Imagine that a set of people inhabit the same place, what should make us believe that they inhabit a single state? For, it could not be walls since it would certainly be possible to build a wall around all of the Peloponnese.”

ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ12 τῶν τὸν αὐτὸν τόπον κατοικούντων ἀνθρώπων πότε δεῖ νομίζειν μίαν εἶναι τὴν πόλιν; οὐ γὰρ δὴ τοῖς τείχεσιν, εἴη γὰρ ἂν Πελοποννήσῳ περιβαλεῖν ἓν τεῖχος·

Dio Chrystostom, The Euboean Discourse 50

“But you will give us a home there, or how will we be able to survive the cold? You have many homes in your walls left empty. One of them is enough for us.”

ἀλλ᾿ ὅπως δώσετε ἡμῖν ἐνθάδε οἰκίαν· ἢ πῶς ὑπενεγκεῖν δυνησόμεθα τοῦ χειμῶνος; ἔστιν ὑμῖν οἰκήματα πολλὰ ἐντὸς τοῦ τείχους, ἐν οἷς οὐδεὶς οἰκεῖ· τούτων ἡμῖν ἓν ἀρκέσει.

Cicero, Republic, 1.19

“Don’t you think that we should know what affects our homes—what is happening and what occurs in a home which is not bounded by our walls but is instead the whole world, the dwelling and homeland the gods gave us to share, since, especially, if we are ignorant of these things, we must be ignorant of many other weighty matters too?”

An tu ad domos nostras non censes pertinere scire, quid agatur et quid fiat domi, quae non ea est, quam parietes nostri cingunt, sed mundus hic totus, quod domicilium quamque patriam di nobis communem secum dederunt, cum praesertim, si haec ignoremus, multa nobis et magna ignoranda sint?

[for the the theme of being a citizen of the world, see this post]

wall

Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi 4-5

“We do not shut ourselves up in the walls of a single city as proof of our great souls, but instead we enter into exchange with the whole world and claim the world as our homeland so that we are allowed to give our virtue a wider field.”

Ideo magno animo nos non unius urbis moenibus clusimus, sed in totius orbis commercium emisimus patriamque nobis mundum professi sumus, ut liceret latiorem virtuti campum dare.

Wall Hating

Everyone’s In Love! Reading Euripides’ “Hippolytus” Online

Euripides, Hippolytus 469-472

“…you have fallen into so much misfortune
How could you imagine you’d break free of it?
But if in the end you have more good than ill
You’d certainly be lucky enough as a human being.”

ἐς δὲ τὴν τύχην
πεσοῦσ᾿ ὅσην σύ, πῶς ἂν ἐκνεῦσαι δοκεῖς;
ἀλλ᾿ εἰ τὰ πλείω χρηστὰ τῶν κακῶν ἔχεις,
ἄνθρωπος οὖσα κάρτα γ᾿ εὖ πράξειας ἄν.

Euripides, Hippolytus  361-368

“Did you hear it? Did you hear
The queen speak aloud sufferings
One must neever speak?
May I die, my friend, before
I think your thoughts. My gods,
How pitiful you are from these pains.
Oh, all the toils that nourish mortals.
You are ruined—you have introduced evils to the light.
What can await you in this nearly endless day?”

ἄιες ὤ, ἔκλυες ὤ,
ἀνήκουστα τᾶς
τυράννου πάθεα μέλεα θρεομένας;
ὀλοίμαν ἔγωγε πρὶν σᾶν, φίλα,
κατανύσαι φρενῶν. ἰώ μοι, φεῦ φεῦ·
ὦ τάλαινα τῶνδ᾿ ἀλγέων·
ὦ πόνοι τρέφοντες βροτούς.
ὄλωλας, ἐξέφηνας ἐς φάος κακά.
τίς σε παναμέριος ὅδε χρόνος μένει;

Euripides, Hippolytus 161-169

“Women have an ill-fit harmony in their lives:
Their suffering lives alongside
The miserable helplessnesss of labor pains
And senselessness.
This breath escaped out of my womb
So I cried out to the heavenly aid
The queen of arrows
My much envied visitor among the gods:
Artemis.”

φιλεῖ δὲ τᾷ δυστρόπῳ γυναικῶν
ἁρμονίᾳ κακὰ
δύστανος ἀμηχανία συνοικεῖν
ὠδίνων τε καὶ ἀφροσύνας.
δι᾿ ἐμᾶς ᾖξέν ποτε νηδύος ἅδ᾿
αὔρα· τὰν δ᾿ εὔλοχον οὐρανίαν
τόξων μεδέουσαν ἀύτευν
Ἄρτεμιν, καί μοι πολυζήλωτος αἰεὶ
σὺν θεοῖσι φοιτᾷ.

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ with discussion and interpretation during our time of isolation and social distancing. As Paul O’Mahony, whose idea this whole thing was said in an earlier blog post, Since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Each week we select scenes from a play, actors and experts from around the world, and put them all together for 90 minutes or so to see what will happen. This process is therapeutic for us; and it helps us think about how tragedy may have had similar functions in the ancient world as well.

Euripides, Hippolytus 293-296

“If you suffer a sickness that is one of those we can’t mention,
These are women who can help take care of the disease.
If your suffering is open to discussion with men,
Tell us so we can share this deed with some doctors.”

κεἰ μὲν νοσεῖς τι τῶν ἀπορρήτων κακῶν,
γυναῖκες αἵδε συγκαθιστάναι νόσον·
εἰ δ᾿ ἔκφορός σοι συμφορὰ πρὸς ἄρσενας,
λέγ᾿, ὡς ἰατροῖς πρᾶγμα μηνυθῇ τόδε.

Euripides’Hippolytus takes us away from the stories of Agamemnon’s family and the Trojan War and takes us to some of the local tales of Attica. He tells the story of Theseus and his son Hippolytus, a product of Theseus’ rape of Hippolyta. The action of the play is in Troezen where Thesus is in exile for murder. Hippolytus has declared himself celebate and to punish him, Aphrodite has made his stepmother Phaedra fall in love with him.

This play was performed as part of a trilogy in 428 and won first prize. It is also not the only time Euripides turned to this topic. An ancient scholar writes that “this is the second Hippolytus, also called “the wreathed”. It appears it was written later. For it corrects what was improper and worthy of accusation in the earlier play” (τερος ᾿Ιοφῶν, τρίτος ῎Ιων. ἔστι δὲ οὗτος ῾Ιππόλυτος δεύτερος <ὁ> καὶ στεφανίας προσαγορευόμενος. ἐμφαίνεται δὲ ὕστερος γεγραμμένος· τὸ  γὰρ ἀπρεπὲς καὶ κατηγορίας ἄξιον ἐν τούτῳ διώρθωται τῷ δράματι. τὸ ).

According to scholarly traditions, Hippolytus was famed for his wisdom as well has his beauty and this play sets forces of prudence and self-discipline against desire and pleasure. Of course, since this is Euripides, it is not as simple as that: each character struggles with their impulses and their incomplete knowledge, struggling to be better and punished for trying to be something they are not.

Euripides, Hippolytus 653-655

“I am going to clean out everything I just heard
From my ears with running water. How could I be bad when
I feel dirty just hearing these kinds of things?”

ἁγὼ ῥυτοῖς νασμοῖσιν ἐξομόρξομαι
ἐς ὦτα κλύζων. πῶς ἂν οὖν εἴην κακός,
ὃς οὐδ᾿ ἀκούσας τοιάδ᾿ ἁγνεύειν δοκῶ;

Scenes (using Ian Johnston’s translation)

Lines 1-87: Aphrodite, Hippolytus, Chorus/Attendants
Lines 198-518: Phaedra, Nurse, Chorus
Lines 601-667: Nurse, Hippolytus, Phaedra (present but unseen)
Lines 885-1101: Theseus, Hippolytus, Chorus
Lines 1153-1466: Messenger, Theseus, Hippolytus, Artemis, Chorus

Euripides, Hippolytus 916-920

“O humanity, why do you fuck up pointlessly so often?
Why do you teach countless skills
And contrive and invent every kind of thing,
But fail to understand or even pursue at all
How to teach people to think when they are mindless?!”

ὦ πόλλ᾿ ἁμαρτάνοντες ἄνθρωποι μάτην,
τί δὴ τέχνας μὲν μυρίας διδάσκετε
καὶ πάντα μηχανᾶσθε κἀξευρίσκετε,
ἓν δ᾿ οὐκ ἐπίστασθ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἐθηράσασθέ πω,
φρονεῖν διδάσκειν οἷσιν οὐκ ἔνεστι νοῦς;

Performers

Artemis and Aphrodite – Noree Victoria
Hippolytus – Rhys Rusbatch
Phaedra – Mariah Gale
Nurse – Marietta Hedges
Theseus – David Rubin
Messenger – Toph Marshall
Chorus – Noelia Antweiler

Special Guest, Eirene Visvardi

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 821-824

“…I look over a sea of suffering, poor one,
So large that it is impossible to swim free again
Or to cross over the wave of this sorrow.”

κακῶν δ᾿, ὦ τάλας, πέλαγος εἰσορῶ
τοσοῦτον ὥστε μήποτ᾿ ἐκνεῦσαι πάλιν
μηδ᾿ ἐκπερᾶσαι κῦμα τῆσδε συμφορᾶς

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

Aeschylus, Suppliants  September 2nd

Euripides, Electra September 9th

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes September 16th

Euripides, Hippolytus 486-489

“This is the very thing that lays low the well-lived cities
And homes of mortals: excessively attractive words!
You must not utter things to entice the ears at all
But rather whatever plan will bring us good fame!”

τοῦτ᾿ ἔσθ᾿ ὃ θνητῶν εὖ πόλεις οἰκουμένας
δόμους τ᾿ ἀπόλλυσ᾿, οἱ καλοὶ λίαν λόγοι.
οὐ γάρ τι τοῖσιν ὠσὶ τερπνὰ χρὴ λέγειν
ἀλλ᾿ ἐξ ὅτου τις εὐκλεὴς γενήσεται.

Videos of Earlier Sessions (Go here for the project page)
Euripides’ Helen, March 25th
Sophocles’ Philoktetes, April 1st
Euripides’ Herakles, April 8th
Euripides’ Bacchae, April 15th
Euripides’ Iphigenia , April 22nd
Sophocles, Trachinian Women, April 29th
Euripides, Orestes May 6th
Aeschylus, Persians, May 13th
Euripides, Trojan Women May 20th
Sophocles’ Ajax, May 27th
Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos, June 10th

Euripides, Ion,  June 17th

Euripides, Hecuba June 24th

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound June 30th

Euripides, Andromache 

Aristophanes, Clouds July 15th

Euripides, Hippolytus July 22nd

Euripides, Hippolytus 176-198
“Oh, for mortal kind suffering and hateful diseases!
What will I do? What won’t I do?
This is your light, your bright sky-
Already outside lies
Your sick bed.
Coming here was your every word,
Quickly you will rush to go back again,
And quickly you will slip and delight in nothing.
Nothing present pleases you, what is absent
You hold more dear.
It is better to suffer sickness than tend to it.
The first is simple but the other unites
Anguish of thoughts with labor’s hands.
Human life is only pain
And there is no respite from labors.
Anything at all dearer to us than life
Darkness embraces and hides in shadows.
Then we show ourselves to be unlucky lovers
Of whatever shines clear for a bit on the earth
Because of our ignorance of any other life at all.
There’s no revelation of the afterlife.
We are carried along by nothing but stories.”

ὦ κακὰ θνητῶν στυγεραί τε νόσοι·
τί σ᾿ ἐγὼ δράσω; τί δὲ μὴ δράσω;
τόδε σοι φέγγος, λαμπρὸς ὅδ᾿ αἰθήρ,
ἔξω δὲ δόμων ἤδη νοσερᾶς
δέμνια κοίτης.
δεῦρο γὰρ ἐλθεῖν πᾶν ἔπος ἦν σοι,
τάχα δ᾿ ἐς θαλάμους σπεύσεις τὸ πάλιν.
ταχὺ γὰρ σφάλλῃ κοὐδενὶ χαίρεις,
οὐδέ σ᾿ ἀρέσκει τὸ παρόν, τὸ δ᾿ ἀπὸν
φίλτερον ἡγῇ.
κρεῖσσον δὲ νοσεῖν ἢ θεραπεύειν·
τὸ μέν ἐστιν ἁπλοῦν, τῷ δὲ συνάπτει
λύπη τε φρενῶν χερσίν τε πόνος.
πᾶς δ᾿ ὀδυνηρὸς βίος ἀνθρώπων
κοὐκ ἔστι πόνων ἀνάπαυσις.
ἀλλ᾿ ὅ τι τοῦ ζῆν φίλτερον ἄλλο
σκότος ἀμπίσχων κρύπτει νεφέλαις.
δυσέρωτες δὴ φαινόμεθ᾿ ὄντες
τοῦδ᾿ ὅ τι τοῦτο στίλβει κατὰ γῆν
δι᾿ ἀπειροσύνην ἄλλου βιότου
κοὐκ ἀπόδειξιν τῶν ὑπὸ γαίας,
μύθοις δ᾿ ἄλλως φερόμεσθα.

Faulting the Tricks of the Goddess: Reading “Iphigenia in Tauris” Online

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 42-46

“Night has come with strange new fantasies
I will tell them to the sky, if that provides any relief.
I imagined in sleep that I was freed from this land
and was sleeping in my girlhood’s home in Argos….”

ἃ καινὰ δ᾿ ἥκει νὺξ φέρουσα φάσματα
λέξω πρὸς αἰθέρ᾿, εἴ τι δὴ τόδ᾿ ἔστ᾿ ἄκος.
ἔδοξ᾿ ἐν ὕπνῳ τῆσδ᾿ ἀπαλλαχθεῖσα γῆς
οἰκεῖν ἐν Ἄργει, παρθενῶσι δ᾿ ἐν μέσοις
εὕδειν…

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 137-143

“I have come. What’s going on? What are your worries?
Why did you bring me to this temple,
child of the man who approached Trojan towers
with a famous fleet of one thousand ships
of ten thousand arms
that leader of an army
the oldest of the famous Atreids?”

ἔμολον· τί νέον; τίνα φροντίδ᾿ ἔχεις;
τί με πρὸς ναοὺς ἄγαγες ἄγαγες,
ὦ παῖ τοῦ τᾶς Τροίας πύργους
ἐλθόντος κλεινᾷ σὺν κώπᾳ
χιλιοναύτᾳ μυριοτευχοῦς
<στρατιᾶς ταγοῦ τοῦ πρεσβυγενοῦς τῶν> Ἀτρειδᾶν τῶν κλεινῶν;

RGTO Iphigenia

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 219-221

“Now I live as a foreigner
on the borders of a sea hostile to strangers
unmarried, childless, without city, without friend.”

νῦν δ᾿ ἀξείνου πόντου ξείνα
συγχόρτους οἴκους ναίω,
220ἄγαμος ἄτεκνος ἄπολις ἄφιλος.

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ with discussion and interpretation during our time of isolation and social distancing. As Paul O’Mahony, whose idea this whole thing was said in an earlier blog post, Since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Each week we select scenes from a play, actors and experts from around the world, and put them all together for 90 minutes or so to see what will happen. This process is therapeutic for us; and it helps us think about how tragedy may have had similar functions in the ancient world as well.

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 376-379

“…I put off many embraces
to a later time,
because I thought I would go back to Argos again.
Wretched brother, Orestes, if you have died you have
such great fortune as you leave our father’s envied stores.”

πολλὰ δ᾿ ἀπεθέμην ἀσπάσματα
ἐς αὖθις, ὡς ἥξουσ᾿ ἐς Ἄργος αὖ πάλιν.
ὦ τλῆμον, εἰ τέθνηκας, ἐξ οἵων καλῶν
ἔρρεις, Ὀρέστα, καὶ πατρὸς ζηλωμάτων.

This week we return to Euripides and the fate of Agamemnon’s daughter Iphigenia in the surprising and challenging Iphigenia at Aulis. This play joins other Euripidean tragedies–like the Helen or his Orestes–in presenting alternative accounts of myth and challenging well-known narratives. In this one, the very daughter who was sacrificed to Artemis was whisked away to Tauris where she became a human sacrificing priestess of the goddess. Somehow, Orestes and Pylades end up in her hands after their trial at Athens. And, well, it goes on from there.

What do we make of such a fantasy, of the willful rewriting of the past? This play was performed during some of the most troubling of the years off the Peloponnesian War and its genre bending may have appealed to audiences eager for some escape or some hope that all was not fated. Like Helen it flouts mythical tradition, but unlike Helen it seems to create a largely new ending for its characters.

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 479-481

“Where have you come from, unlucky strangers?
You have sailed long to get to this land
and you will live below far from your homes for long indeed.”

πόθεν ποθ᾿ ἥκετ᾿, ὦ ταλαίπωροι ξένοι;
ὡς διὰ μακροῦ μὲν τήνδ᾿ ἐπλεύσατε χθόνα,
μακρὸν δ᾿ ἀπ᾿ οἴκων χρόνον ἔσεσθε δὴ κάτω.

Scenes (Using Cecelia Luschnig’s translation)

1-65: Iphigenia, Orestes, Pylades
466-1088: Iphigenia, Orestes, Pylades, Chorus
1153-1233: Iphigenia, Thoas, Chorus
1422-1489: Thoas, Athena

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 570-575

“The gods who are called wise
are bigger liars than winged dreams.
The great confusion among the gods exists
among mortals too. Only one reason for lament
remains to one who’snot a fool and has not trusted the words of the prophets:
he dies as those who know he died believe.”

οὐδ᾿ οἱ σοφοί γε δαίμονες κεκλημένοι
πτηνῶν ὀνείρων εἰσὶν ἀψευδέστεροι.
[πολὺς ταραγμὸς ἔν τε τοῖς θείοις ἔνι
κἀν τοῖς βροτείοις· ἓν δὲ λυπεῖται μόνον,
ὃς οὐκ ἄφρων ὢν μάντεων πεισθεὶς λόγοις
ὄλωλεν ὡς ὄλωλε τοῖσιν εἰδόσιν

Performers

Iphigenia – Alice Haig
Orestes – Brian Nelson Jr
Pylades – Paul O’Mahony
Thoas – Tim Delap
Athena – Noree Victoria
Chorus, Marietta Hedges

Special Guests, Niall Slater

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 874-885

“What end can there be for the fate that stalks me?
What will fortune bring me?
What path can be found
to send you from this man-killing city
back to our Argive home
before the sword tastes your blood.
Well, this is something you need to discover,
my dark soul.
Is the path by land, not with a ship
but with a dance of the feet?”

ἁ δ᾿ ἐποῦσ᾿ αὖ τίς τελευτά;
τίς τύχα μοι συγκυρήσει;
τίνα σοι <τίνα σοι> πόρον εὑρομένα
πάλιν ἀπὸ πόλεως ἀνδροφόνου πέμψω
πατρίδ᾿ ἐς Ἀργείαν,
πρὶν ἐπὶ ξίφος αἵματι σῷ πελάσαι;
τόδ᾿ <ἤδη> τόδε σόν, ὦ μελέα ψυχά,
χρέος ἀνευρίσκειν.
πότερον κατὰ χέρσον, οὐχὶ
ναΐᾳ ἀλλὰ ποδῶν ῥιπᾷ;.

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

Euripides, Hippolytus, August 26rd

Aeschylus, Suppliants  September 2nd

Euripides, Electra September 9th

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 414-421

“Hope is a dear friend to mortal suffering,
people have no fill of it when they wander
for a weight of wealth over the sea’s swell
testing themselves against cities and foreigners
for this common belief.
But some find expectation for wealth
untimely even though it comes in moderation for others.”

φίλα γὰρ ἐλπὶς †γένετ᾿ ἐπὶ πήμασι βροτῶν†
ἄπληστος ἀνθρώποις, ὄλβου βάρος οἳ φέρονται
πλάνητες ἐπ᾿ οἶδμα πόλεις τε βαρβάρους περῶντες,
κοινᾷ δόξᾳ·
γνώμα δ᾿ οἷς μὲν ἄκαιρος ὄλ-
βου, τοῖς δ᾿ ἐς μέσον ἥκει.

Videos of Earlier Sessions (Go here for the project page)
Euripides’ Helen, March 25th
Sophocles’ Philoktetes, April 1st
Euripides’ Herakles, April 8th
Euripides’ Bacchae, April 15th
Euripides’ Iphigenia , April 22nd
Sophocles, Trachinian Women, April 29th
Euripides, Orestes May 6th
Aeschylus, Persians, May 13th
Euripides, Trojan Women May 20th
Sophocles’ Ajax, May 27th
Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos, June 10th

Euripides, Ion,  June 17th

Euripides, Hecuba June 24th

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound June 30th

Euripides, Andromache 

Aristophanes, Clouds July 15th

Euripides, Alcestis July 22nd

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 380-384

“I fault the tricks of this goddess.
Any mortal who even touches blood
or dips a finger in childbirth or death,
she bars from her alters because she thinks them unclean
when she herself delights in human sacrifice!”

ὰ τῆς θεοῦ δὲ μέμφομαι σοφίσματα,
ἥτις βροτῶν μὲν ἤν τις ἅψηται φόνου,
ἢ καὶ λοχείας ἢ νεκροῦ θίγῃ χεροῖν,
βωμῶν ἀπείργει, μυσαρὸν ὡς ἡγουμένη,
αὐτὴ δὲ θυσίαις ἥδεται βροτοκτόνοις.