Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Troy Was Golden Once And Now Is Only Dust


The legendary Trojan War remains even in 2007 A.D. the near-perfect metaphor for all lengthy conflicts. It's existential, with heroes and villains on all sides. But, a combination of fate and luck -- the interplay of supernatural forces (we are the sport of the gods) -- determines more than human hopes, plans and actions in actual outcomes, and unintended side consequences. The impact is felt for generations, even centuries. Human nature evolves very little in the grand scheme of things.

The Trojan War also has a very modern character -- Helen of Troy, the face that launched a thousand ships. Unlike most "uppity" women characterized in art and literature right up through most of the twentieth century, Helen gets to do pretty much whatever she wants and is not punished. In fact, she lives more happly ever after than probably any other character male, female, god or goddess, in the Trojan War epics, plays and fragmentary tales. She is Aphrodite's darling, survives the destruction of much of the Greek invasion force, the capture and sack of Troy, and the dispersal of the surviving Trojan women.


Besides Homer's epics, one of my favorite takes on the Trojan War and its aftermath is Euripides' The Trojan Women (415 B.C.). It can be read in one sitting and very quickly, or watched in movie or play versions. I just finished an English translation by Nicholas Rudall, which is simple, straightforward, and powerful. A lamentation on the squander of war and the fate of Troy's survivors, it is timeless and universal. Who, it asks simply, can justify with any moral certainty the killing or enslavement of noncombatant women, children, invalids? And in our world, who can justify the mass bombings of civilians and cities -- even in World War II -- without citing the "ends justify the means" rationalization? And once the precedents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are established, who has the right to claim a moral high ground in today's warscapes?

Today's Rune: Wholeness.

Happy Spring!

3 comments:

Danny Tagalog said...

I maintain that the leaders are following a logical path - but the public aren't allowed in. They look down on us.

It's a real horror show if we look at what is being done in our name. But people are so apathetic and defend their 'space'.

EVERYBODY knows there is a degree of exploitation, linguistic and overt lies given to of the publci occurring - but the human mind doesn't want to look in the dark.

Why is that? Yes, it is selfishness. But we have been indoctrinated into thinking the selfish gene is what we are.

I don't think so, but why are we so apathetic.

It's understandable, but my god - the never-ending war on 'terra(earth) 'is wrong. Why is it allowed to continue...

Arnold Toynbee said...

Civilization itself declares who the winners and losers will be.

Charles Gramlich said...

"High Ground" is hard to find among today's politicians, but then maybe it was always that way.