Saturday, September 29, 2012

We talked a lot about the gods and their, ironically, ungodly behavior. As Mrs. King bluntly and rightfully stated, the male gods just went around raping women and having demigod children. I forgot where, but I read something about the conflict between the demigod children and their god parents got so bad that Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon had to make a pact to no longer have any children. The gods overall were extremely mischievous and troublesome, for example the goddess Rumor literally went around causing problems. Throughout mythology, the gods really never had any agreements and each one would intervene in certain things and tell the hero to do what they want them to do. I think it is oddly accurate to imagine the Greek gods as infants in togas running a muck (do it... it really is pretty funny).

Octavius and Aeneas

There are many parallels between Octavius and Aeneas and one of the more prominent ones is the idea that Octavius was descended from a god. Aeneas also had one of his parents that was a god. Both also seem to have very arrogant characteristics and personalities. Could these particular characteristics both come from the fact that are "descended" from gods? Since one parent was a mortal and the other was a god maybe they have trouble finding their meaning and who they truly are. For example, Aeneas is very arrogant when he first meets Dido and proclaims who he is. He is also like the gods in the sense that he doesn't really care when he abandons Dido and heads off to found a new city. I think Octavius portrays a more violent side of the gods based on the fact that he participated in 70 years of civil war that Rome was locked in. He eventually won the last of those wars and declared himself the ruler of Rome, which seems like a very god-like act to me. He also said that he was running a republic in Rome, but he was more of a dictator overseeing everything that went he was ruling from Mt. Olympus and watching the mortals below.

Virgil's Perspective on Fate

It seems to me that Virgil unshackles humans from the gods in the Aeneid. I shouldn't say people, but at least demi gods seem to be released from some of the gods fate. Aeneas chooses to follow what the gods ask of him in the Aeneid, unlike Oedipus who has to discover his own fate, and in fairness had the choice not to push Tiresias into telling him his fate, but at the same time the gods didn't treat him as valuably as the do Aeneas who is stuck inbetween a struggle between the Greeks and Italians, and is used as a pawn, yes, but a pawn that at least is given some choice to do what the gods tell him. Unfortunately I can't find any quotes because I forgot my book in my locker, but Aeneas does choose to follow what the gods ask of him, and indeed the gods share their opinion's with Aeneas and Aeneas is expected to follow, but is given the option of denying the gods' suggestions. Opinion?

Indifference of the Gods

After reading those two poems on Leda, Helen's mother, and we had distinguished that the gods seem indifferent to what is going to happen, I found similar cases in the actual Aeneid. Like we'd addressed in class for a bit, Venus' indifference to the Trojan war by promising a married Helen to Paris expresses the same sentiments of indifference as in the poems. And this indifference is what drives the event and outcome of the war.
Another thing we discussed, but didn't necessarily make a connection to, was what Mrs. Quinet said about the relationship between demigods and gods/goddesses. Indifference is obviously present here as well, seeing that these gods/goddesses would come to their children at the most random time, but had wholly ignored them for most of their life. They were indifferent as parents, so to speak. This probably had to do with a mixture of smelling the fact that these gods were having so many children and largely that they seemed to live life in vanity, immaturity, and selfishness.
Kind of sad that divine beings, beings which should have a degree of superiority over humans at every single facet, are less mature than their creations at times.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Virgil's Ironic Portrayal of Goddesses

I find it kind of ironic the way goddesses are portrayed in the Aeneid. Although goddesses are divine and powerful, they are still given the harsh traits of stereotypical women in ancient Roman culture. Specifically, the Judgment of Paris showcased the goddesses as vain, deceitful, selfish, and willing to engage in bribery to have their way. Greeks and Romans portrayed their gods and goddesses as having human characteristics, making them more relatable to the audience. Juno, Aphrodite, and Minerva, although relatable, hardly show admirable qualities in the Judgment of Paris. The Romans depicted their goddesses, whom they supposedly respected and honored for their divinity, as possessing the same undesirable characteristics that they felt the Roman women had in their belittled and limited roles in society. That just seems a bit contradictory to me. Not cool, Virgil.

Ivory Gate

So, Augustus commissioned Virgil to write the Aeneid as a propaganda piece for Augustus' new empire. In the Aeneid Virgil compliments Augustus and says he will lead Rome into a new Golden Age. But Mr. Williams was talking about how Aeneas leaves the underworld through the ivory gates, which means everything he just heard was a lie. So does that mean that Virgil does not think Augustus will bring them to a new and better era, but is only disguising the work as a propaganda because Augustus commissioned it?

Perhaps The Aeneid was Propaganda

Vergil gives his character, Aeneas, divine lineage to Venus mainly in order to parallel a contemporary situation with his patron, Gaius Iulius Octavianus (Augustus) whose adoptive father, Gaius Iulius Caesar was revered as a god by the senate and people of Rome for his military prowess, thereby giving Augustus similar divine lineage. Some argue that Vergil did this to intentionally promote the image of his patron and on a larger scale, some argue that Vergil's, or Augustus' attempt to glorify Rome by establishing a lineage, as well as a new image of power through the quality of literature itself (remember  that Roman literature was looked down upon by the rest of the world, namely Greece) was also propaganda to show off the promising potential of Rome as it emerged from its series of civil wars. Some argue that Aeneas did not prove to be a very good role model for the Romans and therefore would make the Aeneid a poor attempt at propaganda and therefore not propaganda at all. Some can say that the parallel between Aeneas' and Augustus' visions to found a new age in relativity to Aeneas' poor personality traits also would discredit Augustus and therefore would make bad propaganda and ,using the same logic, not propaganda at all. However, I might not see it that way. For the Aeneid, even if briefly, addresses Romulus and Remus. To elaborate, there are a few similarities between them and Augustus as well. 
1.) Both envisioned and more or less succeeded in founding eras of progression, embodied by the city of Rome before and now by Augustus' new system of government. That's a plus for Augustus. 
2.)Both those eras would come from a dispute, Remus would kill Romulus, and Augustus would emerge from a series of civil wars. This further likens Augustus to two role models in Roman history, you know, the guys who founded the city; I'd say that's another point for Augustus. 
3.) Both are associated with the divine. Romulus and Remus with Mars, Augustus with Caesar. Not only this, but Caesar and Mars embody the highly revered aspect of military might that associates itself with the pride of the Roman people, an aspect established by the later of two divines. This further likens Augustus with positive connotation to someone and something already revered in Roman culture and society. 

So, now that I think about it, perhaps this could've been propaganda, or at least, it could've logically and rightfully been perceived as good propaganda, assuming people were to notice the secondary and more subtle comparison between Augustus, Vergil's patron, whom he attempted to promote in this case, and the revered figures of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.  

That's about it, hope I made sense. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Aeneid ties in actual history to its plot

I found it interesting how so many of the events that we have read in the story seem to tie in with actual wars and events in Roman history.  For example, Aeneas escapes Troy and flees to Italy in order to escape the Trojan War.  The night Aeneas leaves is the night the Greeks sneak in with the Trojan Horse.  On his way to Italy, Aeneas and his crew are forced to stop in Carthage due to a storm over sea.  There, Aeneas and the queen Dido of Carthage fall in love.  The gods come and tell Aeneas to get back on track on his mission to establish a city in italy.  Aeneas ends up leaving Carthage and Dido behind which angers her.  She curses him as she kills herself hoping that his city will be destroyed.  Later, a war called the Punic Wars if fought where Carthage and Rome fight.  There are several references to wars which tie into the plot of the epic poem.

Another Rip Off by the Romans

Ok, so it was plainly obvious in our class discussion with Mr. Williams today that there were many examples of the Romans adopting or basically ripping off ideas from more advanced societies such as the Greeks. We also noted that this included literature, citing similarities between Homer's two epics and Virgil's Aeneid in regards to meter (dactylic hexameter), situations, etc.

I've found another similarity regarding the characters of Odysseus  and Aeneas in that they both need to persuade others by simply going by their word. Odysseus crafty personality causes him to withhold his reasons for why he and his men should do the things they do. He expects his men to simply follow him based on his word. This however proves to be a great flaw in Odysseus and proves detrimental to his journey to return home, namely when he does not explain why his men should not open the bag of winds, which gets opened by the men in spite of Odysseus' secrecy and blows them off course.

It is likewise in the Aeneid, that his divine knowledge provided to him by Venus, forces him to convince others, telling them to simply trust him. In the case of Dido, his word doesn't seem to be enough, and when he leaves her, despite telling her that he must follow the order of the gods to do so, she commits suicide and curses Aeneas and his descendants to forever quarrel with her people in Carthage, the allusion to the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage. So it would seem that this secret knowledge, similar to the knowledge Odysseus received from a divine regarding the wind bag, is a similar cause of trouble in the story as in The Odyssey.

So to summarize, the knowledge which both possess but cannot or will not explain ultimately lead to future trouble. So I guess the Romans just ripped that little motif off as well from the Greeks.

Why So Serious?

There are similarities between the women in Madea, The Aeneid, and Oedipus The King. There is more likeness between Madea and Dido, but Jocasta shouldn't be ignored. First off I would like to say that, as of now, I haven't finished reading the Aeneid. However, what I have seen so far is mostly about Dido crying her eyes out over Aeneas. Not to say she doesn't have good reason; at first she fell deep in love with Aeneas, then he left her and broke the oath, (very Jasonesque) but she needs to be a strong women to give the women someone to look up to. As we know, Madea was also wronged and resorted to crying all day and eventually going crazy and killing her children. This is another example of how the men during this time of history had little to no respect for women. Virgil, Sophocles, and Euripides all have their women seem weak at some time in the play, which reinforces the anti-feminist stereotypes of the time. When Virgil has Dido flip flop between sadness and happiness back to sadness he is continuing the belief that if a woman's life at night is good, they think they have everything; but, if in that quarter things go wrong, they will consider it their best and truest interests most hateful. (I don't know whether or not I should put quotations or citations or things of the sort) This post is getting a little lengthy so I'll cut it off with my last point that all of the women have something terrible happen to them and BOOM suicidal thoughts. Jocasta was the only one who really has a justified suicide, however these thoughts go through all the women's minds, and all of them are really too quick to make such a drastic decision.

Similarities Between Dido and Medea

As I'm reading the Aeneid, I cannot help but notice the similarities between Dido's situation and Medea. Dido falls in love with this great hero, marries him, and sacrifices much for him (in line 417 she says, "Because of you, Libyans and nomad kings detest me, my own Tyrians are hostile; because of you, I lost my integrity and that admired name by which alone I made my way once towards the stars."). But then, like Jason secretly left Medea, Aeneas decides to secretly leave Dido. Both men leave because they want to seek greater things - Jason wants to become a king and Aeneas wants to found the city of Rome. Granted, Aeneas leaves much more reluctantly than Jason does, but the men's actions are still similar. Both Medea and Dido are devastated and enraged by their husbands' betrayals and both of them resort to violent retaliation. However Medea's retaliation is violent towards other people while Dido's retaliation is violent towards herself and Aeneas. In both cases, the men perceive the women as irrational. Jason looks down on Medea, who, according to him, is so overcome with passion that she cannot understand the logic behind his actions. Dido is displayed as being too passionate to the point of it as a flaw. As she pines over Aeneas, all the construction ad the success of Carthage comes to a halt. Then, as Dido tries to bring vengeance on Aeneas, he is warned by Mercury, who says in line 760, "Woman's a thing forever fitful and forever changing." In both stories, women are portrayed as less emotionally stable than men.

Monday, September 24, 2012

More Irony... or at least I think so

Irony plays a central role in "Oedipus", as Oedipus is blind to the truth, despite the fact that it has been in front of him the entire time. I found quite funny that a factor of Oedipus's hamartia is that he is impulsive and too quick to react without throughly thinking through his decisions (signifying how intelligent he is - after all this is what allowed him to solve the riddle of the sphinx), however when it comes to connecting the pieces of the puzzle together in connection to figuring out the origins of his childhood and who his parents are, Oedipus is almost "slow" in compiling the information together. Jocasta discovers who Oedipus really is long before Oedipus does, which is quite ironic considering Oedipus is so intelligent that he equates himself with the gods.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Origins of Feminism

Some of you may agree with me and surely some of you will not, but I feel like Medea is an early feminist piece of literature. In Greek society, women had no power, no prestige, and no responsibility. They would sit around at home and do nothing; even the queen of city-states had no role in early Greek government. Medea shows the disadvantages women had in that time and how they were used for different purposes, such as political connections, the status and wealth of their family, and their use in having children. Medea also shows, however, a woman standing up to the patriarchal society of Greece. She doesn't take no for an answer, and even when she realizes she will inevitably be exiled, she just adjusts her plan so she can complete it before she leaves. It may seem like a weird type of empowered woman, but in that time slandering the royal family was a capital offense, and Medea just continues doing it no matter how many times she is warned. Also, instead of men using women as usual, she uses men like the king and Jason to accomplish her goals. I believe Medea is a feminist predecessor to pieces of literature like The Handmaid's Tale, A Room of One's Own, and The Feminine Mystique.

Who really is the tragic hero in Medea?

            By definition a tragic hero is: someone who is highly renowned and prosperous, though not pre-eminently virtuous or just, and who falls due to an error in judgment or frailty and causes the audience to feel pity and fear.
Medea, was royalty in Colchis and came to Greece as a refugee, but marries Jason which, in my view, still makes her renown and prosperous. She is not totally virtuous, as we can see by her manipulation of Jason and Aigeious and in her fiery temper. Her frailty and error in judgment could be that she let herself be driven too much by her powerful passionate love for Jason. (her love was so fierce, she was willing to kill her own brother). His betrayal hurt her so terribly causing her love to turn into hatred.  We certainly are horrified by the slaughter of her children, but personally, I didn’t feel sorry for her.  Instead, I was shocked and frustrated by her irrationality.  Before she slaughtered her kids, I felt sorry for her because her feelings were so hurt by Jason and because of how she was treated as a woman. Therefore, I think Medea is the tragic hero….but Jason certainly has tragedy thrust upon him as well.  Could Jason be the hero instead, even though he didn't have the most lines? Could they both be tragic heroes in a sense? 

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Chorus

Upon review of our class discussions, I discovered that in both the plays Oedipus and Medea, the chorus seems to change their minds regarding certain instances...a lot. I feel like the chorus simply sides with whoever's reasoning is in their best interests. For example, in Medea, the chorus supports Medea's revenge at some points, while at others they side with Jason and accuse Medea of her malicious actions. I realize that we said in class that the chorus was not comprise of "stupid" people, but simply plebeians. But wouldn't a chorus composed of your everyday "commoners" and "peasants" (Webster's Dictionary Online) actually be kind of stupid and wouldn't that then support the fact that the chorus supported whoever's argument would turn out in their best interests?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Medea vs Jocasta

Everyone is so scandalized in Medea because she murdered her children. However, in Oedipus the King, Jocasta and Laius pin Oedipus' legs together when he was a baby and sent him to die in the mountains - only because they wanted to avoid a prophecy that ended up becoming true anyways. How is Medea's act any different from Jocasta's? Yet we place more emphasis on the horror of Medea. Does avoiding a prophecy make it right to kill your child but revenge doesn't? No one speaks out against Jocasta's actions, but when Medea murders her children she becomes a monstrosity. Is it because she's a foreigner? I found it interesting that Jason says no Greek woman would ever do such horrible things, but, using Jocasta as an example, some of them do. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Medea's role in the play leads to increased hatred towards her

After our debate today and reading Medea, it is hard not to notice the major role Medea plays in the play despite being a woman.  As said before in class, women did not usually play big roles in Greek society.  However, in the play Medea, Medea seems to play a huge role.  This huge role she plays, in my opinion, only helps to lead to her downfall.  King Creon of Corinth views her as the "bad guy" in the divorce between her and her husband Jason after he leaves her.  She is viewed by him as dangerous, and he wants to exile her.  Even Jason is not appreciative of all the sacrifices she made such as abandoning her homeland and killing her brother in order to be with him.  I think that if Medea would have been a male character, people would have been much more appreciative of her and easier on her.  People are harder on her for her actions due to the fact that she is a woman.  Women during Greek society were not treated equally with men.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Feminism or Misogynism?

When reading Medea it is impossible to overlook the motif of feminism. For starters, it is rare for the main character of a Greek play to be a woman - which shows Euripedes being sort of progressive, but at the same time he chooses to portray Medea in a very cold way- killing her own children, a princess, her brother, and basically anyone that makes her angry. Now, it must be said that the story of Medea predated Euripedes, she was part of Jason's myth of the Golden fleece. Anyway, there are various times in the play were I found myself asking if Jason was trying to voice women's plight- Medea recognizes her status within Greek society as a "[...] most unfortunate creature [...]" (621). But simultaneously Euripedes forthrightly states that women have are unequal to men in the marriage -where women can see one, men can see many (621). She goes on to say that she would rather act as a man, and be a soldier in battle than give birth to one child. So while Euripedes may be progressive in his ideas voiced, and the casting of women characters, he still recognizes women as inferior beings, and portrays' Medea as a cold and murderous person. Take?

Conflicting Feelings Anyone?

Was I the only one with major conflicting feelings while reading Medea? 
On one hand, we have Jason. Firstly, he owes everything to Medea who helped him get the fleece in the first place. He makes a promise to marry her and he does. But then he decides to go and marry another woman - because she's a princess. Jason just wants to be king. So then, he lets Kreon exile Medea and his kids. Sure, Jason says he'll provide for them - but that doesn't make up for exile! I'm pretty sure kids nowadays get counselling for the emotional trauma of an absentee parent. But wait! There's more. Jason gets angry at his wife and starts lecturing her about how - yes, she saved his hide and practically got the Golden Fleece for him - but he saved her from a barbaric society and brought her to live among Greek intellectuals. So, Jason, it's not enough that you scorn the woman in bed, but then you scorn her family. Let's see how many insults he can throw. 1) She's not submissive enough (well, that's what she gets for being a woman whose actually intelligent) 2) He made her into what she is (without him, she'd still be a barbarian) 3) He's doing it for her and their children (Do I even need to explain the insult in this?) 4) "It would have been better far for men to have got their children in some other way, and woman not to have existed." (Well, at that point, if she hadn't sought revenge, I would've). So, all in all, not only does Jason abandon and betray his first family, he also throws a few insults for good measure. I will never watch Jason and the Argonauts through the same eyes again. 
So after that charming man, we have Medea. Yes, she gave up everything for Jason and he betrayed her (I think every woman suffers from bad taste in men at some point in her life - there should be counseling groups for it). Yes, she is perfectly justified in being angry. Society certainly wasn't doing anything to help, so Medea takes justice into her own hands - only her sense of justice is insane (Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!). There are limits to what the excuse "he left me for another woman" can make up for. Cursing your husband for eternity - sure, we can all understand that. Wanting to ruin his new marriage - okay, makes sense. Murder everyone involved and your innocent children - that's where we draw the line. I mean, even the chorus fully supported her want for revenge - right up until she decides to kill her own children. You really have to pity the kids. First, their father decides to ditch them for another family and then their mother murders them. They really don't get any breaks in life.
So basically, the two sides presented: Jason, the traitorous, cheating, pathetic excuse of a parent, and Medea, the angry, border-line crazy, child-murderer. 
What great choices.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What happens now?

According to the presentation that we received just a few days back, Greek tradition dictates that the son is responsible for avenging his father's death. I had made a comment in class to Ms. King, and to Mrs. Quinet, but I 'm not sure the rest of you guys heard it... so here it is: Laius was killed by Oedipus, and since Oedipus has to avenge the death of his father, doesn't Oedipus have to kill himself? Instead of killing himself, Oedipus intentionally blinds himself. This action only serves to influence the central role of irony, as Oedipus is only capable of metaphorically seeing the truth of his past after he becomes blind. Does anyone else think this was sort of odd?

You Can't Handle the Truth!

One of the dominant issues in Oedipus Rex is the juxtaposition between truth and blindness. Contrary to most opinion, I believe that Oedipus' blindness to the truth is actually voluntary, and continues to be until the very end. Take for example the altercation between him and Tiresias: While most associate this scene with irony, Oedipus being unable to see the truth while the blind prophet can, I might argue that Oedipus' figurative blindness was not blindness at all, but rather a mixture of stubborn pride and growing fear. Perhaps it's not just a case of simply being ignorant, but also a matter of not wanting to believe. I could easily see someone become defensive if someone accused them of something they believed they did not do, but I could also see this with someone who is simply too horrified by the thought of their fault to want to believe the truth. Hence, they block out that possibility because they do not wish to consider it. However, this does not attribute to an actual ignorance or blindness, for they are in fact aware of the possibility they attempt to quell and dismiss. While this is a bit of an assumptive example to my argument, there is another scene, which could easily legitimize it. That is when he physically blinds himself after having seen the truth and his wife dead. Why does he blind himself? Because he's been traumatized by his fate coming true and the subsequent consequences and repercussions rendered upon him and his family. It is understandable that he'd want to blind himself after seeing so much, as to not risk the possibility that yet even more might be revealed. To put it simply, he is attempting to block away that truth, just as he may have been doing, albeit to a lower degree, with Tiresias' accusation.

The not so divine fate.

I really must wonder how things might have played out differently had not Laius and Jocasta been revealed their fate in the first place. It would seem that fate is driven by the fear of the fated and that alone. Suppose then that there was nothing to fear. Had not Laius and Jocasta heard their fate, they wouldn't have been prompted by fear to get rid of Oedipus, who then wouldn't have heard that man say that his foster parents weren't his true parents, thereby not prompting him to see the oracles to find answers. Had that not happened, he wouldn't have heard his fate and he wouldn't have fled to escape his fate. Had that not happened, he wouldn't have come into an altercation with his true father and killed him. He then wouldn't have rose to power and married his mother hadn't there been a vacancy for  the king of Thebes. Had fate not been revealed, none of this would have happened. How could have it have happened?It would seem in this case that fate could have never succeeded had it not been for the fear of the fated. It would seem then that fate does not operate on a divine plain, but through the physiological trepidations of the future belonging to mortal beings.

...My brain hurts.

Jocasta's Tragic Flaw

     I think that deep down Jocasta knew that the prophecy would come true one day or another, whether or not they interfered when Oedipus was a baby. When she had first had Oedipus as a baby she knew his fate and what he was supposed to turn out to be and do, correct? So when her husband was "mysteriously killed" and some hot shot came walking into town that all of a sudden married her, would she not think that, "Hey, maybe this is my long-lost son who was supposed to kill my husband and then come back and marry me to become the Ruler of Thebes?"
     I feel like Jocasta was sort of dull, and she knew that Oedipus was indeed her son and had indeed killed her husband and had come back to marry her because she was fervently trying to protect herself and Oedipus's discovery of the prophecies. I think that Jocasta had a hunch and probably thought that something was fishy with her husband's death and that the man she married was her son.
     Jocasta's tragic flaw was that, at least I think, she had the power to stop this prophecy from playing out. She could have not married her son and continued the fate that was predicted to her earlier in her life. She could have been a hero and stopped the prophecy, but she didn't, and this, I believe, is Jocasta's tragic flaw.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Free will v. Fate

Greeks and some religious people today use(d) gods to explain why good and bad things happen to us that would be random, unfair, and incomprehensible otherwise.  “Everything happens for a reason,” implies, to me, that the person saying that believes a supreme force is has predetermined everything and that, in the end, everything will work the way that force has intended.  If that is the case, where’s the room for our free will?

In the play, the prophecy from the gods is unavoidable and inescapable up until a point (perhaps).  Apollo only prophecizes that Oedipus will kill his dad and marry his mom, and it ends there.  So once the gods’ plan happens, Oedipus, “The Son of Chance” has free will.  Now Oedipus must confront the consequences of his fate, but


…so he gouges is own eyes out.  There’s a lot of fortune telling going on from the prophecy his mom heard, to the oracle Creon discovers, to Tieries’s foreshadowing. There’s also a lot of denouncing of fate, probably more out of denial than actually under-valuing it, especially by Jocasta: “What’s a man to fear? …Chance rules our lives.” Look at where that got her… :-/  Oedipus’s life was coordinated by the Gods…and at the end he handles the situation, constructively of course, with his free will…maybe… Tiresias foreshadows Oedipus’s blindness…so maybe it was already planned that he would gouge out his eyes as well.  Did Oedipus have free will, or was he a pawn the Gods liked to torture? It seems to me that the prevailing force is destiny. 

Humanism, Rationalism and Religion

Humanism and God: In Judeao-Christian ideology, man is made from the image of God. Christians believe Jesus is perfect and is the human form of God. He possessed divine powers to heal the sick and walk on water. To me, these ideas don’t seem too far off from the Greek belief that gods, human like in nature & appearance and supernatural, came to Earth and interfered with humans’ lives. This close relationship between gods and men, linked in image, and in some other ways, though not in ability, is interesting to me.

Why are men compelled to compare themselves with a divine spirit or greater force? It’s almost like our minds are wired to think there might be something else out there that is incomprehensible that we feel we must explain, so we explain it in relation to ourselves which are terms we can understand. Here comes rationalism or lack there of, depending on your beliefs: Or maybe it’s the real world that is hard to explain so we need a tool (a god) to help us make sense of the world. God is the tool we, and the Greeks, use(d) for explaining and rationalizing those things, but the idea of God is so inconceivable, abstract and belief based, that the idea of God is not exactly grounded in facts/logic.

Throughout the ages, the civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea and others around the world depict gods in the image of man…why so focused on man? Also, it is interesting that dating back to the thousands BCE, humans have practiced rituals and religion for some reason…what reason? I know this is pretty theological and maybe not that related to Oedipus or specific to the time period we're studying but it is a question that relates to the human experience so...

Oedipus the Idiot

I really can't believe how mean Oedipus was the Creon at the beginning of the play when they had their differences. He was very arrogant and pretty much told Creon that he didn't know what he was talking about, even though he had just come from the Oracles, and finally he blames Creon for hatching the plot to kill King Laius. After Tiresias gives his riddle, AND A TON OF CLUES AS TO WHO THE KILLER IS, Oedipus seems stumped and hardly gets a single one of the hints from the next pages of the play hinting at the fact that he is the murder. It also takes him a while at the end of the play to catch on to idea that he was born in Thebes, killed his father, married his mother, and had children with his mother. Oedipus does just not seem to get the clue, and I suppose that was part of the whole tragic fall, the main character does not understand until the end and then the audience gasps in disbelief! I'm not bashing the play, I absolutely loved it and thought it was "short and sweet", but I do think that Sophocles could have at least portrayed Oedipus in a little more intelligent manner because he was the one that solved the Sphinx's Riddle. I believe that if Oedipus had converted some of his confidence into intelligence, it would have made for maybe a more intellectually challenging plot (for example Oedipus could challenge his accusers in a roundabout way to confuse them even though he actually knew he was one who had killed King Laius... I don't know, it's just a thought).

Greek Theater

After yesterday's performance and lecture from Mr. Kirkpatrick, I came to a new understanding of the magnitude the Greek Theater must have carried over 2000 years ago. I did not realize how big of a deal it was in Greek society for a comedy or tragedy to take place. I figured it was simply a theater production like we have nowadays where people pick the performances they would like to see and buy tickets accordingly. Apparently I was wrong. The entire Greek city-state shut down when a play came to town! There were parades, wines, food, fire's, altar to Dionysus, and the entire city involved themselves in the production either as the audience or the chorus. The Greek society's view towards theater productions gives me a whole new understanding and respect for comedies, tragedies, and drama's alike. I also was never really a fan of plays, but after my experience with the theater's in Europe  (Doc Voc's Europe Trip...holla) and the information I have received over the past few days, I have decided to give it another try!

The Ending

In Oedipus, Sophocles uses a story that everyone knows. I think it was more effectual to have a story where the viewer knows how the ending goes. I knew what tragedy was coming and every time Oedipus spoke, I just felt so sorry for him - he had no idea what was coming. In my opinion, if the story had an unknown ending, it would have had an entirely different meaning - the viewer would have focuses on the plot, rather than the downfall of Oedipus itself. The viewer would have focuses on "What's going to happen next?" and other such questions. Instead, we watch with intense focus on Oedipus's pride and his self-destruction into misery.

The Oedipus Complex

Freud developed a psychosexual theory, the Oedipus Complex, in the 20th century.  I’m not going to waste time on the Oedipus story, cause I think I know we know it now, you know?...But Freud seems to believe boys’ love for their moms turns sexual at some point and they feel fear and aggression towards their fathers.  Aggression, because they want dad out of the way, and fear, because dad might castrate them. However, at the same time, they model their behavior from dad in order to attract mom.  You’re a whack-a-doo Freud! Oedipus was destined to sleep with his mom! It was pre-ordained by the gods!  He didn’t consciously or even subconsciously kill his dad, he didn’t know who his dad was! He only thought he did.  Get yo’ facts straight! 

But if Oedipus is based on royal families of the time, and something like this did happen, whether the person knew they were sleeping with mom or not, then that gives Freud a little legitimacy. Plus, this isn’t the first time we’ve encountered incest. In 100 Years (between the aunt and the nephew) and in the Tin Drum (Maria and Oskar). Oskar also “killed” both of his fathers, which is part of the whole goal for boys according to Freud’s Oedipus Complex .  We established earlier that Oskar preferred Mama over Broski and Matzmath and that he especially disliked Matzmath. Maybe there is some underlying truth to Freud’s theory?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jocasta trying to save her own skin (but failing)

In the scene before Oedipus learns from the Messenger that his "father", Polybus, had died, Jocasta is urgently trying to get Oedipus to forget the prophecies. She says that Tiresias is just an old blind man and nothing more. Before I eve learned that she is Oedipus' mother, i had a feeling that she was hiding something because of the way she fervently tried to get him to forget about the prophecies. It seems as if she was trying to defend her son from the pain of knowing, but she had to know deep down that Oedipus would find out some way or another. She may have actually been trying to defend herself from Oedipus' rage and the public's opinion, for why would she knowingly marry her son?

The many ideas that we use today come from the Greeks

After the presentation today, I had a new respect for all of the things that we take for granted today that we really should thank the Greeks for.  One example is the United States government.  We are run by senators, governors, etc. and have power split among branches instead of just being ran by one dictatorship.  This is an original Greek idea.  Another example, is jury duty.  Greeks used to have a similar method for how they would pick their chorus members for plays.  They would randomly select regular citizens to each take a turn serving in the chorus for a play.  The United States does this same thing today when picking people for jury duty.  The Greeks took their plays very seriously and came up with many brilliant ideas along the way that have influenced how we do things in life today.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Oedipus and the Masses

I thought it was interesting how Oedipus wants the prophets words to be announced so publicly. When Creon comes to report the words of the oracle, Oedipus wants Creon to report in front of the priests, despite Creon's warnings. Then, Oedipus wants the prophet Tiresias to reveal the murderer in front of the masses. I think that if Oedipus had kept quiet about the murderer living in Thebes still, his downfall would not have been as huge as it ended up being. People would not have known that he was the root of all their problems and they might never know he married his own mother. Oedipus's desire to share his plans with the masses ends up contributing to his downfall. However, I don't think his philosophy was a fault. He just wanted to include the citizens in his efforts. It's more as though his tragic downfall came from misfortunes that happened to him coincidentally rather than from his own faults.

A Chorus from the Masses?

It seems that Sophocles uses the masses within Oedipus Rex to display the masses' feelings towards elites such as Oedipus and Tiresias. The masses, through the Chorus, express consternation over Tiresias's and Oedipus's row at the beginning of the play, and show the only rationality within the scene: they ask Oedipus and Tiresias to calm down, while Oedipus and Tiresias basically continue to bicker about who was a "better prophet". It seems that Sophocles believed in the masses intelligence, and that perhaps intelligence did not only belong to the elite echelon's of society, which also reflects Plato's belief that many leaders who were not philosophers were not fit to lead.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Human form

When comparing sculptures and art throughout any span of history, there is a general trend of an increase in complexity. (not necessarily the same for some modern art but this isn't about that.) This obviously isn't always true, however it can really be seen between the Kouros sculptures and the Hellenistic ones. The Kouros sculptures are well done and better than I could do, however they lack the realism that the hellenistic sculptures have. Hellenistic art has flowing draperies, alternative weight distribution, and varied facial expression which is a stark contrast to the simple cookie cutter smile and face of the kouros. Although they differ in complexity they share the overall theme of the perfect human form. The hellenistic sculptures seem to have chiseled bodies (pun sort of intended) and good posture with lavish clothing.  Although the kouros cannot compare to the beauty of the hellenistic pieces, they sill have that same attempt at perfection in the form of a human body. Why were the artists so obsessed with having perfect form? Were they unable to break the bonds of their modern society? Did they even want to waste their time creating something perfect to reflect the imperfect? Was the answer to this in the reading or discussed in class but I didn't notice?

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Flame and the Ray

Something stood out for when reading The Allegory of the Cave regarding the two sources of light, the flame within the cave and the sun outside. 

Obviously the flame can stand further in symbolism when characterizing the life we perceive in that it is but an artificial attempt to replicate the sun, which shines so bright that it "blinds" the liberated prisoner. 

The flame however fails to do this. However, along with saying that this further attributes to the stark contrast between the flame, false reality, and the sun, truth itself, I can also intertwine the idea of perfect forms as well. 

Recall from class that the derivative form of any truth is but a replication of the real thing and is therefore less powerful in its existence. 

I believe we could say that the flame is a derivative form of the sun, which is, if not scientifically, definately symbolically is  the perfect form of light, which allows us to see. 

From there one can generalize this to truth all together, a symbol light sometimes, and in this case does stand for. 

So to conclude, we could determine that because the flame is a derivative form of the sun, it can reasonably contribute to the perception of life within the cave, which is only comprehended through the five senses. 

I guess I could also go back to how the sun blinded the liberated prisoner when he saw it, perhaps suggesting that this new light rejected his old means to understand something. 

Well, I guess that's about it. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hitler and the German People's Faith in Him

     Hitler rose to power at a time of depression in the German economy and society. People were very willing to follows some like him who seemed to have everything together and a plan on how to get Germany back on track. Since no one else came forward to lead the German people, Hitler seemed to be the go to option because he was willing. Hitler gave the German people something and he gave them an identity to be apart of. Hitler talked about the providence and destiny of the German people and made them promises that enticed, excited, and brought them together under his reign.
     But I do agree with our analysis of the book and how we determined that German people were blindly following a leader (Hitler, the Gas Man). And the German people followed Hitler because who else were they going to follow? I just wanted to give another point of view about the German people leaving their future in the hands of a man they were blindly following.

The Tin Drum and A Clockwork Orange

Okay, so I started to talk about this as a comment on one of Tyler's posts, but I wanted to expand on it here. As I was reading the book, Oskar reminded me a lot of Alex from the movie (and novel, but I've never read that...) A Clockwork Orange. I don't know if anyone has seen it, but it's about this teenage guy who leads a small gang that enjoys "ultra-violence." Alex and his followers prey on the weak and unsuspecting by beating up random people on the street, breaking into houses and violently gang raping women, and any other sort of violent and/or sexual shenanigans that they find amusing. It's weird and creepy and wonderful, you should all watch it.
Anyway, Oskar and Alex are both extremely self-centered and have tendencies to turn violent attacks into lighthearted occasions. Like Oskar, Alex is presented as an extremely unreliable narrator. He focuses only on his own sick interests and views brutal and horrible events as entertaining and exhilarating. At one point, he beats up and cripples a man while happily singing "Singing In The Rain," then rapes his wife in front of him. Alex also knew how to use his charm to play the system to his advantage, much like Oskar's reliance on the "helpless three-year-old" act to get him out of trouble. Additionally, Alex loves the music of Beethoven and, while undergoing psychological treatment, is "brainwashed" into associating Beethoven's music with pain and violence, physically torturing him whenever he hears it. Although he loves violence and destruction, he loves art and Beethoven just as much. This reliance on art in the midst of violence reminded me of Oskar's reliance on drumming and the damage he does with it, constantly combining art and destruction.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Follow the Leader: Oskar and the Nazi Drummers

As we all know from class discussion, the scene with Oskar leading the drummers from underneath the rostrum stage during the Nazi pep rally clearly alludes to how the german people almost blindly followed Hitler and the Nazi's without "viewing the rostrum from behind." Another thing however I'd like to point out is the fact that the nazi drummers don't know where or who is playing the drums, because Oskar is concealed underneath the rostrum. This only adds to the point of following blind.

Subversion In Tin Drum

It is quite apparent from his actions and perceptions of reality that Oskar could be described as: selfish, emotionally detached or indifferent, self centered, and ill-concerned. While all this goes a long way in explaining the character development, or really lack there of in this case, both physically and mentally, of Oskar, one might argue that his attributes are in fact integral to a message Grass may and and much more than not is making in his story. I find that Oskar's side of indifference and misplacement and mis-prioritizing of his concerns in certain historical situations throughout the novel attempts to pull the reader away from the severity of reality at that very moment. I say attempt, because I believe that Grass intentionally constructs his own failure onwards this motive. The reason being is that Oskar's indifference is so seemingly outworldly and uncommon that it is too absurd to distract from the reality of the situation, even if we may see it through Oskar's eyes. It is not in fact the narrators' story that is unreliable, but his perception that is. This is exactly what Grass intends for us to recognize. For one to recognize and easily discern the severity and brutality inherent during that time of history and in war in general past Oskar's depiction. But two, to recognize something much subtler from and despite its seemingly insignificance due to its unverbalized obviousness. That Oskar's take on what happened is wrong. More specifically that it distracts from reality, and subverts the horrors of the Nazi regime and war itself. My point however, is this "subversion" that takes place. It associates potentially with the subversion of history, which is reminiscent of the german government since the end of the war, in particular how it attempted to deny a holocaust and many other cruelties committed by the Nazis. I believe Oskar is an example that reflects a similar subversion of what obviously did happen.

Oskar The Unreliable

The story of Oskar is told from the view of a mentally unstable and physically undeveloped patient in a mental institution with a more than troubled childhood. If I were to hear that this were the situation for any other story I would be slightly apprehensive to believe anything that they would say. This doubt is magnified by the unrealistic nature of Oskar's stories. Sure it is magical realism and we understand Oskar to be unreliable but I don't think he was as in control of his life and mental situation as he describes. A perfect example is how he says that he was fully developed mentally at birth and since then decided not to grow, this is scientifically impossible. There are many instances in the book where Oskar claims to have chosen to do something, but naming them all would take up the entire blog page, and all of us here know most of them already. With all the evidence of Oskar's reliability, or the lack thereof, (I am actually unsure if I am using that phrase correctly but it is fun to say) I have come to the conclusion that the life described by Oskar is actually the way he wanted his life to play out, a fantasy, but not reality. Maybe he even really believes these stories to be the truth, but he doesn't have me fooled.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Interpretation of Hermann and Dorothea for the Tin Drum

Throughout the Tin Drum people are unsure of how to respond to changes in government. Some obvious examples are Jan, Matzerath, Agnes, and even Oskar's grandmother. Jan and Matzerath are both conflicted as to what party to join. Agnes seems to repudiate Nazism through her refusal to allow Oskar to be hospitalized, and perhaps her suicide could be attributed to her ant-Nazism. Goethe's excerpt has a quote that is relevant to uncertainty within the Tin Drum. In Hermann and Dorothea Goethe writes: "For that man, who, when times are uncertain, is faltering in spirit, Only increases the evil, and further and further transmits it". It seems that uncertainty within the novel is infectious, and Jan's uncertainty quickly spreads to people such as Agnes. Greff the greengrocer's peculiar suicide could be attributed to uncertainty, and actually the mechanical nature in which Greff kills himself may also be reminiscent of the art vs. technology theme that carries on throughout the Tin Drum.

Oskar's Child-like Mindset

Oskar has a bad habit denying responsibility to virtually anything. He acts like a child, even in his teen and young adult years as he does not take responsibility for many things. For example, he was the leader of the Dusters, and when they defiled the church and were eventually caught, Oskar became a child and started acting like a baby in order to free himself of the responsibility of defiling the church. Oskar also acts like a child when he thinks that everything revolves around him. For example, when Jan Bronski and Oskar are at the Polish Post Office, Oskar is more worried about his drum getting a drop of blood on it than the man laying in the letter cart bleeding to death. Another instance is seen in Tyler's post where Oskar does not seem to care that his father, Jan Bronski, is about to be executed by the Nazis. Oskar places himself and his minuscule worries, such as his drum, before large matters of great significance, such as the defense of the Polish Post Office by the brave men who died for a cause they believed in. Oskar's denial of responsibility and his obsession with worrying about his own good and his drum's own good are characteristics of a child, and Oskar truly is a child.

Oskar's lack of respect for everything

In the Tin Drum, Oskar's self-centered attitude permeates everything that he does. He goes from "being" Jesus to being Satan then to being a baby and so many more different things. His lack of respect for everything as a result of his literal Napoleon complex made me dislike him quite a bit as a person. He doesn't truly care about anything but himself and his drum, and he makes major events, as we said in class today, seem very minor in comparison to himself and his actions. He is in the middle of a bunch of historically important events, and he doesn't even care. He has a picnic on the top of a pillbox, he makes a rape during the Russian liberation of Danzig seem minor and consensual, and he doesn't even care when his uncle is about to be executed after the take over of the Polish post office. We have all read about some self-centered characters before, but I think that Oskar goes way further than any others. He is the epitome of selfish and conceited.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sexual References in the Tin Drum and One Hundred Years of Solitude

While I was working on my paper, I found it odd how the authors of both the Tin Drum and One Hundred Years of Solitude use almost euphemistic descriptions to describe sexual encounters (i.e: the fizz powder incidents Oskar has with Maria or the descriptions of Jose Arcadio's penis which Pilar refers to by saying, "he will be very lucky", instead of clearly saying what she meant. I am not exactly sure why both authors use this technique when referring to sexual events, but could it be because it gives their novels an increased sense of magical realism?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Marriage in the Tin Drum

LIke Tejas posted earlier while talking about One Hundred Years of Solitude, I think that marriage/relationships is also an interesting factor in The Tin Drum.  There are many weird relationships that take place in this novel as well.  For example, both Jan Bronski and Alfred Matzerath are in love with Oskar's mother.  This leaves the reader uncertain about who is actually the true father of Oskar.  There is no true sense of faithfulness and marriage in this relationship since Oskar's mother seems to be faithful to both men.  Another example of weird relationships occurs between Oskar, Bebra, and Roswitha Raguna.  Oskar meats Raguna through Bebra and falls in love with her.  While I was reading this, it appeared that both Bebra and Oskar secretly liked Raguna.

There is clearly a lack of boundaries and faithfulness to one person when it comes to relationships in this book.  It also is a lack of morality.  Could this weird lifestyle Oskar grows up in lead to the struggles he deals with as time goes on?