Monday, June 17, 2013

TFBT: Random Notes from Hour 16

“Much has been written about the excellence of Hector, whose civic dedication and tender feeling for his wife will always compel admiration. But in the end there is about him, as the famous Hellenist John Finley used to say to undergraduate classes at Harvard, a slightly Rotarian quality that must ultimately yield before Achilles’ god-like splendor.”

 "Zeus, who has established this as a fixed law: Learning comes by suffering." A clear sumbolon from the antiquity, we are certainly learning!”  
Mayragul a student in The Ancient Greek Hero.   

“As kleos andron passed from one generation to another in the song culture, cycle of disaster is also passed from one generation to another. The new generation has to take vengeance for the evil done a generation before by doing another evil. This is feud. Eye for an eye!”  Mayragul a student in The Ancient Greek Hero.   

“When Agamemnon is told that he must give up his own daughter, he fails to resist the same way as he had resisted the giving up of his concubine.”  Hour 16 of  The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours.   

“Zeus was about to cause, for the sake of a woman with many a husband, a multitude of struggles most wearying, with many a knee buckling in the dust” Agamemnon (Aeschylus)  Line 64 

 “Since Attica is deserted, it is obvious that this voice is divine and comes from Eleusis to help the Athenians and their allies. If it descends upon the Peloponnese, the king himself and his army on the mainland will be endangered. But if it turns towards the ships at Salamis, the king will be in danger of losing his fleet. Thus he advised, and after the dust and the cry came a cloud, which rose aloft and floated away towards Salamis to the camp of the Hellenes. In this way they understood that Xerxes' fleet was going to be destroyed.” Herodotus on Salamis 



  1. I think that Zeus has established the law "Learn by suffering" for himself, because he seems able to learn by suffering, as well as unable to learn any other way :-). In Aeschylus (who gives this law, by the mouths of a group of frightened old men), the Persians also seem to be learning by suffering - but nobody else! And it is small wonder, as we know from everyday experience that suffering rarely brings any improvement.

  2. Maya,

    I have to disagree with several points.

    1)Zeus doesn't have to suffer in order to learn. Zeus learned how to free his siblings from Cronus' grasp by listening to Metis/Nyx. He learned about the future by listening to Themis.

    2)Maybe suffering rarely brings any improvements; but improvements often bring suffering. Anyone trying to get in shape knows about the aches and pains that come. Anyone re-entering college know about the headaches you can get from new ideas and new concepts.

  3. I fully agree with (2), I just never thought that the sentence could be understood this way because I have never seen anyone except you interpret it this way. Everyone else writes that Zeus sends sufferings to others in order to teach them, and the more they suffer, the better for them, because they will learn more (and if they are mortal and die in the process, it's still OK, because others will learn). I have always been perplexed by the arguments that a deity torturing weaker creatures is, by this act, proving his benevolence to these creatures.
    I thought that before releasing his siblings, Zeus was suffering because he was not in power. However, you may be right - he may have been motivated by pure concern for his siblings.

  4. I am reading Eumeides at the moment. Talk about gods torturing people. ,The catch is the Furies don't seem to know they have an option. They had been wrecking revenge on the slayers of relatives since the time of Cronus and are convinced that civiliZation will collapse if they stop torturing mother killers. Chilling stuff. Athena threatens them with a thunderbolt, but you dont see them flinch much.