Sunday, July 7, 2013

TFBT: More Random Notes from Hour 20 of the Ancient Greek Hero

“You see, I know well that you are all sick, and that, sick as you are when it comes to me,   there is not a single one of you who is as sick as I am.   You see, your pain goes into each one of you alone, all by yourself, and into no other person, but my soul   mourns for the city], for myself, and for you - it does it all together.   So, you are not awakening me from sleep; no, I want you to know that I have by now wept many tears,   gone many ways in the wanderings of my thinking.” Oedipus Tyrannous 59-67  I just think this is great.  Some politician should use this speech sometime.

 The flaming god has swooped down. He is a most hateful plague, afflicting the city; because of him the house of Cadmus is emptied, while black Hādēs is enriched with sobs and laments”. Oedipus Tyrannous 27-30

“Where on earth are they? Where will this thing be found, this dim trail of an ancient guilt?” Oedipus Tyrannous 108-109

“It is Colonus, shining white. Here the nightingale, a constant visitor, trills her clear note under the trees of green glades, dwelling in the midst of the wine-colored ivy and the gods' inviolate foliage, rich in berries and fruit, unvisited by sun, unvexed by the wind of any storm. Here the Bacchic reveler Dionysus ever walks the ground, companion of the nymphs that nursed him. And, feeding on heavenly dew, the narcissus blooms day by day with its fair clusters, over and over again; it is the ancient garland of the two Great Goddesses. And the crocus blooms with a golden gleam. Nor do the ever-flowing springs diminish from which the waters of Cephisus wander off. And each day this river, swift in making things fertile, moves with its pure current over the broad planes of Earth with her swelling breasts. Nor have the singing and dancing choruses of the Muses shunned this place, nor Aphrodite of the golden rein.” Oedipus at Colonus  The above is so pretty, but every other time I ever read through it, I rushed through it.  They say the world is a garden we should travel through in no haste.  Thanks to “The Ancient Greek Hero” I finally slowed down and saw this garden.

LEONARD MUELLNER: And he gets to be a hero of cult as well, himself.
GREGORY NAGY: And then I wish we had more accurate information.
But it's definitely the case that when Sophocles dies in his nineties, he lives to a ripe old age -- he is so respected by his city, he did just about everything that you would ever want to be able to do in Athens. He realized all his ambitions. He was a general. He was a statesman, besides being the--
LEONARD MUELLNER: A performer in tragedies.
GREGORY NAGY: --the greatest master of tragedy and a performer in tragedy.
He did everything. And then after he died, his people did transform him, so to speak, into a cult hero. And he was worshipped as a cult hero. Again, I wish we had more accurate information, because most of the references we have are anecdotal. But it's pretty clear to me that he himself became a cult hero. Imagine what it was like to go to posthumous presentation of Oedipus at Colonus. We know that he was already dead when the drama was performed. This is towards the very end of the fifth century. And I would just give anything to be present at this theatrical moment when the greatest Athenian of the Athenian democracy up to that point is speaking from the dead and describing his native place. And he himself is already a cult hero.

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