Metaphysical roots of the drama; Aeschylus & Origins of Greek Ritual
This is combined with the return from the Trojan War of Agamemnon the great warrior to his house where quite a master unbeknown to him has been living with his brother with his cousin. But just this. And in the course of the play they tricked Agamemnon into the palace and murdered him in the second place. All rest these must come and avenge the murder of his father. I give him and he kills it just this and he kills Clytemnestra and in the third place he is brought to trial for his sins. Now Orestes. Is undergoing a trial in the humanities. The final play of this trilogy. But it is soon clear that it's not arrestees it's on trial but Zeus himself the whole lot of them brought the rest used to this planet. Because as we soon learned arrestees had no choice in the killing and he only has a Tates once he's been threatened with madness with fiends with plagues with
everything by Apollo. If he does not avenge the murder of his father he has no choice about it. There is nothing for him to do and there is no sense in finding him guilty of a crime that was determined by the gods. Now there's no question in the play The libation bear is where he kills his mother about the rightness of revenge later on there isn't Sophocles when they do a version of this called Electra. And later on there is in your bodies when he does a version of this called Electra. But there's no question about it. In ESCALUS. Arrestees is simply a marionette a puppet in the hands of a god. And indeed most of our school says characters have no human depth. They have no psychological development. They have no profound complication of character. He's not interested in developing human character. He's interested in seeing how related these human beings are to the gods who are manipulating them and what the relationship of free will and determinism is in this peculiar universe.
Now arrestees is without free will. He's an agent of Apollo and therefore it is Apollo and also the king of the gods Zeus who must go on trial in the final play. Of the play is called the humanities. But the central figure of this play the Fury's as they're called they represent the old order at the conclusion of the libation bearers after Orestes has killed his mother he suddenly sees horrible creatures descending upon it. You don't see them you don't but I do. I must move on you said. And they are out to persecute him and they chase him from the country where he seeks refuge in the Apollo shrine. At the beginning of the third play well these furious represent the old order of things not the new order of the Olympian gods. And in fact they are constantly referring to Apollo to Zeus
and all the rest as you young good Gar. Upstart. Shamed son of Zeus robbers or you are a young god you have ridden down powers grey with age taken to supple him though a godless man who hurt the mother who gave him birth yourself a god you stole the matricide away. Where in this actual any man say there is right the accusation came upon me from my dreams and hit me. As with Godin the big grip of his fists the charioteer strikes but deep beneath lovin heart the execution is cutting with his mind to feel and the weight of pain is big heavy to bear. Such are the actions of the younger God. These hold unconditional force beyond all right a throne that runs reeking blood blood at the feet blood at the head the very stone center of Earth. Here in our eyes horrible with blood in Kurdistan is plain to see. Later on too during the trial they are screaming with revenge upon the younger gods gods of the younger generation who have written down the laws of the older time torn them out of my
house. I disinherited suffering heavy with anger. She let loose on the land of vindictive poison dripping deadly out of my heart upon the ground. Now the Fury's are connected with the whole order I said and that although it is the order of the type those titans whom Zeus has overthrown. In fact they are born of drops of blood which fell upon the ground when Cronus was castrated and mated with Mother Earth and out of these this mother this blood and earth were created these horrible creatures. In fact they're there you've got to understand that they are the most outrageously ugly figures ever to appear on the stage. They have snakes for Harry they have dogs heads they have bats wings and bloodshot eyes. They're absolutely outrageously ugly and they represent a time that is also our glee and that Escalus is trying to put to rest. They are the so-called phonic deity. They are the remnants of a matrilineal society where Blood Crimes were the highest crimes and could
not go unpunished. If you raise your hand against your mother or if you killed your father or a father killed son or brother killed brother. These crimes within the family were crimes that were avenged by the furious I for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. And as they say in explaining their function. Here is a dilemma. Here is the overthrow of all the old laws. If the claim of this matricide shall stand good is crime be sustained. Should this be every man will find a way to act in his own caprice over and over again in time to come. Parents still await the death stroke at their children's hands. If you don't punish an arrestee that a child will always be allowed to lift his hand against his mother or his father. Now they're totally unconcerned with the murder of Agamemnon by Clyde in the story. Because that is not. A blood crime. Man and wife are not
related. Therefore this is not their concern at all. And anyway they are whole. The feminine as the chief good. And they are protecting the female part of their struck against the incursions upon her of the male her son arrestees. Now to explain this you have to understand. That in primitive times woman was the center of society. This is what they mean by a map or lineal or a matriarchal society. Because the importance of mankind in the act of procreation was not understood. It's very sophisticated to discover that man has anything to do even his own little puny part in procreation. Because in primitive times it was thought that a woman conceived not by sleeping with a man but by turning her hindquarters to the wind. She was filled with the holy when the Holy Spirit and the word wind. By the way is synonymous with Spirit in almost all the tongues all the
ancient tongues. She filled with air and therefore was filled with child. Now this notion I think is even reflected in the virgin birth because as you know Mary is filled with the Holy Ghost but word also which is synonymous with the breath of wind. Now the patrilineal society the importance of mankind is achieved only when it is discovered that the male organ has something to do with fertility and when it does of course it becomes an object of worship. In Greek religion not only that but the New Gods begin to represent the dominance of the male. Now the great trial scene in the humanities the first trial seen in all of literature and probably the greatest is a demonstration of the movement of religion of society from the matrilineal to the patrilineal from the dominance of the female to the dominance of the male and the issues in this trial scene are whose DD
should be wrecked is the law of Zeus. Just. But the furious prosecuting attorneys here Apollo is the French attorney arrestees is the defendant. And as prosecuting attorneys the Fury's wish to defend three unwritten laws three ancient law and they are on of the guard. Are your parents of the stranger obviously arrestees has broken one of these laws and they have broken more. He was not one of his parents. But the Olympian gods the head of Zeus. More cunning and more sophisticated than these ancient creatures the Fury's have laws of civilization and of society the laws of the group and the commune in mind as well. And they wish through this trial to change the Tribal of of an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth this ancient clumsy confused primitive order and
bring about a more impartial justice which will also bring about the end of the vendetta. The end of the blood at the end of the blood crime. Now Towards this end there must be an impartial and impersonal group appointed and Athena into city Athens this trial is taking place appoints 10 or 12 Athenians to function as judges. And what we get here for the first time in literature is a whole city on the state's a city as represented in this court of the area because it's cool. And of course it represents the first jury. This becomes the first jury trial in the history of mankind there are more firsts in this play than one would care to mention. And what we get now is a trial between conflicting authorities. There are two orders of God and these two orders have to be reconciled or mankind will go crazy. Apollo functions not only as the fence attorney therefore but as a witness for the defense.
And also we learned he too is on trial now Apollo claims that the greatest crime is not the killing of your parents but rather regicide the killing of a king because the king receives his scepter directly from Zeus. So you established by Athena and your power I shall speak just places Apollo. I am a prophet. I shall not live. Never for a man woman nor city for my throne of prophecy have I spoken a word except that which Zeus father of Olympians might command. This is justice recognized then our greatest strength. I tell you follow our Father's Will for not even the oath that binds you is more strong than Zeus is strong. And The Furious say then Zeus as you say authorize the oracle to this arrestee state he would he could wreak the death of his father on his mother and would have no force follows as it is not the same thing for a man of blood to die on it with the king's staff given
by the hand of God and that by means of a woman not with a fox cast a fierce arrows as an Amazon might have done but in a way that you shall hear o palace and you who sit in state to judge this action by your vote. He had come home from his campaign he had done better than worse in the eyes of a fair judge. She lay in wait for him. It was the back when he was at it said she would have the rope on him and in the blind and complex toils tangled her man and chop him down. This is the story of a great man. Solemn in all men's sight. Lord of the hosts of ships. Now it's forgotten at this point. The Agamemnon was not a great man in the first play but rather a great sinner and indeed brought on the murder of himself by bringing your concubine home from the Trojan war as in the person of Cassandra. By moving the temples of Troy by being the inheritance of the curse on the House of Atreus
by anyone and by sacrificing his daughter it's a good night for any number of sins. Finally of course before your very eyes by stepping on the purple carpet which is reserved only for the guard but that's forgotten by the third place by the third play he's a great obscure king and a king gets his scepter directly from God and to kill a king is raising your hand against the gods. This is indeed the greatest sin and not the sin against the parent. Well the fury is replied If this is true and the fear is a marvelous attorneys by the way they're always catching Apollo into a contradiction. They reply that Zeus to throw on his father who was a Cain and found him and changed his father promise but Apollo answers always devious. But this wasn't murder that it was just a throne and a castration at the most. And of course here's where he falls into a trap to go to risk his crime is murder and upon the rest he stands condemned by
Apollo's own mouth. Well the verdict is finally delivered on a technicality. The verdict is not guilty by a technicality. And the technicality is an absurd one to us to the effect that the mother is not the parent to the child but merely one who houses the sea. I will tell you is Apollo and I will answer correctly watch the mother is no parent of that which is called her child but only nurse of the new planted seed that grows the parent. Is he who mounts. A stranger she preserves the strangest seed. If no God interfered. I will show you proof of what I explained. There can be a father without any mother. There she stands a living witness the daughter of Olympian Zeus. She was never fostered in the dark of the womb yet such a child is no goddess could bring to birth. In all else Pallas Athena as I best may understand I shall make great your city and its populace.
And sure here's the proof the goddess Athena who sprang for blown from Zeus's head without the use of a mother. Of course he might have referred to to the great child the father die and I said was blown up from somebody but from the five of Zeus. Well this is absurd of course biologically. It wasn't absurd to agree go it because it follows the faggery in view of birth which is a commonly accepted view at the time. But while it's bad biology it makes for good religion. And it's not the last time we'll find science and religion in opposition because what it does is allow for the dominance of the male through subterfuge and cause and by allowing for the dominance of the male that allows for the dominance and importance of the civilization that the male athletes. We know from Freud that it's mankind. Who created civilization.
Not woman car. She's content merely to procreate but man's got to look for something to do while the woman is carrying on over there with the family. So he said let's create civilization. Now what you create civilization you're creating law you're creating order and you have to accept law and order. And from now henceforth. The King and the male representing law and order will be dominant. Crimes against the state and the crimes against civilization by quite a mistress killing of Agamemnon will be greater than the crimes against the tribe. The future is at this point after accepting what they take to be an unjust verdict. Changed into benign creatures. The humanity is representing abundance and fertility. They give up their vengeful nature and turn benevolence. And killing is brought to an end.
Because there is no more blood feud. Now we get the impartial adjudication of a crime adjudication of a crime by a body of citizens. If you kill my brother I no longer kill you in revenge. I go to law and the law puts an end to this. There are no more Hatfields and McCoys after presumably after the. The law was set by the humanities. Now it is attempts at theological justification. Masculist rights and allegory not a tragedy and. It's an allegory of civilization. It could be argued in fact that what you have done here is to point to the end of tragedy because once crime is brought to law you can have a tragic action anymore. Human beings are imprisoned there free will is cut off. They cannot act an act of great crime. If a policeman
is at their beck and call to grab him by the arm and bring them to jail and put them up for trial. If Hamlet or King Lear or Macbeth was to be apprehended by the CIA or the FBI or the local police force or what have you that's the end of their of their tragedy they have to be allowed a certain freedom of movement to enact their tragic action. So once you bring the Court of the Aryan The Aryan up because of all the things that it represents into history you are in effect bringing an end to the notion of tragedy but Escalus has written a very great history of us in dramatic form. That myth Assizes the origins of law society civilization and the benign order of the Olympian gods and to the question. Which is raised how you can be a religious man. I get it. I like it. ESCALUS and also a radical. The best answer and I think that's going to his best epitaph comes from Edith Hamilton
in the Greek way. It is usually held at the radical and the religious temperaments are antagonistic. But in point of fact the greatest religious leaders leaders have been radicals. ESCALUS was profoundly religious and a radical. And so we pushed aside the outside trappings of religion to search into the thing itself. But God's common goal bewilderingly in his plays for the reason that they are only shadows to him whose inconsistent season income grew do not interest him. He's looking past them beyond the many to the one the father engines of days who fashioned us with his own hands in him in God and holds press the final and reconciling truth of the mystery that is human life which is above all the mystery of undeserved suffering. The innocent suffer. How can that be. And God be just. But it's not only the central problem of tragedy. It is the great problem everywhere when men begin to think and everywhere at the same stage of thought they devise the same explanation. The
curse which caused by sin in the first instance works out of itself through the generations and lives from God the awful burden of injustice. The haunted house the curse of race literature is full of the sins of the fathers should be visited upon the children and it was and I command must pay for their poor father's crimes. The stolen gold to live also means it is a kind of halfway house of explanation which satisfies for a time men's awakening moral sense. It did not satisfy masculists Escalus was conscious of his own isolation when he went beneath the accepted explanation. I alone do not believe thus he wrote. He took the problem at its worst a wife driven to murder house. Been a sun driven to kill his mother. And back of them and inheritance of black deed upon Black Dean. No easy way out that would heal the hurt of the world Spike Lee would do for him. He saw the an actual working out of the curse. He knew that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children. He
believed in the justice of God but truth to reconcile these truths he found in the experience of man which the men of his generation must have realized far beyond others. But pain and ARA have their purpose and their use. They are steps of the ladder of knowledge. The great and lonely think only here in there in the very greatest of the depth and penetration of his thought been equals and his insight into the riddle of the world has not yet been superceded. That's his epitaph Sophocles will have a different epitaph. A less lofty and obscure one but at the same time a marvelous insightful one into the very riddles of living in this world. Thank you very much will go on to edifice tomorrow night. Thanks. That was the first in the 1968 series of six Frank L. Y O Institute lectures delivered at the Hebrew Union College Jewish
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Producing Organization: University of Cincinnati
Producing Organization: WGUC (Radio station : Cincinnati, Ohio)
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Identifier: 68-44-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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