Monday, January 26, 2009

"We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing..."

Not to denigrate one of the great dramatic works of human history, but the Oresteia (mostly the Eumenides) is an awful lot like a Thanksgiving pageant.

After all, it reminds everyone of our noble origins. The characters go through tribulations (banishment! starvation! religious persecution! curses on one's house!) and it leads them to forge some of the founding principles of their culture. In the end, everyone sings. Democracy is awesome, you guys. Also when the Pokanoket share their corn.

"Listen my children, and you shall hear
Of the trial of Orestes by a jury of peers
He killed his mother but that ain't no crime
And Apollo was in favor of it at the time
The main point is justice and mercy and such
You can't be concerned with revenge. There's too much
Of that nowadays, kids, but you must resist.
Cause that way democracy cannot exist."

It's a celebration of cultural values, displayed in a simple and ritualistic way. But the Oresteia doesn't have any children with papier-mache muskets (and for that we are truly thankful.)

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