Who starts a secondary text like this? Nobody, only him
It makes me so sad that the way of talking of that Saxonhouse from earlier is so rare, and my next thought is “Harold Bloom”.
I’m interested in geburah-talk regarding the primordial decline in drama. Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes – these ones performed their dramas before any of the 100s of movies you ever saw. What happened there? How do they relate to their predecessor, the “dramatist” Homer? Ideal forms needs to be determined for lunar theatre purposes.
I think I’ve shown you some things before from this Bloom intro
Epic, Tragedy, Novel, ?? possibly VR in the future.
It might be significant that Aeschylus and Sophocles fought in wars, while Euripides and Aristophanes didn’t. Socrates was also a soldier. Something about the close proximity of death might have led them to take life more seriously.
Bloom though reminds me of a subtlety here, that the Bacchae of Euripides is a counter-argument against Aristophanes’ criticism of him in the Frogs. Both plays were performed in 405, and the Bacchae is arguably Euripides’ masterpiece written during his self-imposed exile. While I can’t determine which one was performed before the other at the festival, either way, Aristophanes was probably sweating if he watched it, because it is really a magnificent play. Just going back to primordial drama. These details are important. These two plays are the only ones where Dionysus is a main character. And ALL the extant plays in general were performed at a festival called the Dionysia. So these ones represent a peak of self-awareness in Greek drama.
You might be familiar with the Bacchae (hopefully you are)- briefly, King Pentheus does not permit the worship of the god, and Dionysus eventually sends maenads into a frenzy that results in Pentheus getting his head twisted off. One might interpret Dionysus as the representation of Greek drama, and Pentheus as Orthodox Athens. Euripides wanted Athens to accept the new truths produced by the theatre. As you saw Bloom say above, Aeschylus for instance tweaks Homer’s version of Agamemnon. The Bacchae can be seen as a demand for an update of Greek theology.
We can’t use the Greeks directly to understand our own time. We have to extrapolate. They only had theatre, that was very primitive. We have internet. Pentheus is the cathedral, anons are Dionysus. Maenads are, the lovely ladies reading this. Ideally anyway. I don’t see any maenads trying to rend Pentheus’s head off his body unfortunately. Flattering the tyrant who will tolerate no update, more like.
Do you see how the Bacchae is similar to Aristophanes’ Birds now? These are both in the tradtion of Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound. As for where Sophocles fits into this, The Women of Trachis and Ajax involve superhuman warriors though these are not as similar to the other plays mentioned. In the Women of Trachis the god-man Hercules is accidentally poisoned by Deianeira, and she then kills herself. This is somewhat similar to Prometheus’s well-known punishment. Nietzsche’s Übermensch is nothing new. It only seems new because the ancients are so unfamiliar to our culture.
By the way, like the Birds, the Bacchae also would be illegal to perform today, if one were to make an honest adaptation of it. Ditto for an honest adaptation of the Republic? That goes without saying. The Birds is probably the closest thing to a poetic equivalent of the Republic though. It’s the evolution of drama we’re witnessing here. People today still aren’t ready for the Republic‘s dramatic heights. They tend to consume Euripidean and Aristophanic knock-offs. It says something about you which genre of drama you’re drawn toward. And the one you steep yourself in reinforces the type of person that was drawn to it.