May 12, 2009

Tragically hip

The Greek theater at Epidaurus. Image courtesy of wikipedia.

Welcome to Goat Rope's latest series on Everything You Always Wanted to Know (or not) about Greek Tragedy. You'll also find links and comments about current events below. If you like this kind of thing, please click on earlier posts.

As mentioned previously, Greek tragedies were originally performed during the spring festival of the god Dionysus. Attendance was a civic and religious duty for Athenian citizens. It involved a contest between three playwrights who produced three more or less related plays and a lighter and cruder satyr play.

What's really tragic is that so few Greek tragedies have survived. Of the three tragedians whose work survives, we only have

*seven by Aeschylus (circa 525-455 BC) out of 70-90;

*seven by Sophocles (circa 496-406 BC) out of more than 100; and

*eighteen or nineteen by Euripides (circa 480-406 BC) out of more than 90. The authorship of one of these is disputed.

The works of other tragedians has been completely lost. There's only instance of a trilogy surviving intact, the Orestes plays of Aeschylus.

Many of the ones that do survive are really, really good. It makes you wonder about what we lost.

If you read the works by author and compare, you'll notice that they seem more recognizable as plays as time goes by. Euripides seems really "modern" compared to Aeschylus.

People at the time were crazy about the stuff. It is said that the very few Athenian soldiers who survived that disastrous invasion of Syracuse during the Peloponnesian War were the ones who had memorized the latest by Euripides.

Who said this stuff wasn't practical?


SPEAKING OF UNEMPLOYMENT, here's one by Barbara Ehrenreich on what to do with the extra time.

SPEAKING OF THE RECESSION, here's Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz on where we are now.

WV ITEMS. State advocacy groups called for minimizing state spending cuts. At Coal Tattoo, Ken Ward looks at the impact of mountaintop removal mining on recent flooding in southern WV.

TORTURE. Here's an analysis of how Americans think about it.

WEIGHT LOSS. It's no picnic.


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