Sunday, August 5, 2012

Let's Talk About the End of the Performance: How Can an Ancient Drama be Associated with Christianity?


Let's talk about the end of the performance. How can an ancient drama be associated with Christianity? I'm referring to Helen singing St. Paul's Epistle and to the end of the performance featuring a cross, an element that invokes Christianity.

You have forgotten Epiphany or in other words "deus ex machina".

The quest for God by man of all times and civilizations is a universal fundamental phenomenon. A phenomenon with various forms and expressed in various ways. The quest for God is part of man's effort to reach the (transcendental) existence of God. This is certainly not a simple phenomenon and especially not an easy one to understand.

The vast amount of bibliography on this subject all around the world emphasizes the composite and difficult to investigate nature of this phenomenon of man's quest for God.

"What is God, what not God and what is that in between them?" (verse 1137). This is the verse that is part of the title of this present speech.

This verse presents man's unquenchable desire for seeking out God. It also expresses a distinctly human condition and man's tendency towards God. Meaning who is the God we search for and which are his preceding qualities.

In the end of the play we come across an Epiphanic  appearance : Dioscuri, the deified brothers of Helen. This appearance is neither momentary nor simple. It contains announcements of significant developments in the life of Theoclymenus as a leader also the lives of the rest of the parts of the play. A substantial part of God's appearance is the dialogue between the god and the king. In this case we have an intervention by Theoclymenus for the sake of people's salvation (the Egyptians' and also the Greeks'- everything is  part of a chain). The irreverent has become fair. We would say that this is a divine appearance during which the human side is not a passive receiver but, through this opportunity, is intervening in the historical status quo.

In this case we see a God that appears in visible and tangible conditions in order to converse with man and make him participate drastically in formulating the historical developments towards a positive turn. This Epiphanic dialogue is a bright example of the search for a God who gives man the opportunity to intervene, which opportunity can modify even the plan of God himself.

In verses 1495-1505, the chorus implores Dioscuri for sympathy and assistance. I believe that Euripides reveals the tendency, that people had up to that moment to look for a god that would appear in times of "emergency". A god that would be an impartial judge of people and would guarantee the end of every kind of  (social ) injustice. It is distinctive that the word  "justice" appears since the beginning through the end of the play at the tomb of Proteus, the good and fair king that died and with whom justice also died, as we mentioned in a previous chapter.

We are looking for a buried justice. We are looking for a god that is above all a god of justice. And let's not fool ourselves. Since then till today, isn't he the one we are searching for?

A god that essentially guarantees and offers justice in its purest and most genuine form. A god that provides knowledge and wisdom. A god of mercy. A god of freedom. A real god. This quest is bringing all humans together. We are looking for a crucified and resurrected god. He may be walking among us, besides, he has promised this. What we need is eyes to discover him. Eyes to see him.
Euripides separated himself from the traditional god-centered perception of his era. For the first time, man is the center of dramatic poetry. Anything that the hero has to endure does not come from God. He is the only one responsible for his actions. Euripides enters the labyrinth of the human psyche to explain that man himself and not his fate is responsible for his life. He shows us the reasons that lead heroes to act the way they do. He shows us their weaknesses and the degree of influence these weaknesses have on their actions.

He was accused of being an atheist although the totality of his works is marked by a religiosity never seen before. Is  it possible to characterize as an atheist a poet who depicts gods showing mercy for humankind and preaching the gospel of love? This is the new meaning that Euripides gave to the notion of God. Isn't it a Christian meaning?

Perhaps you will say that he propagated an antireligious propaganda. That he attacks the oracles. Meaning that  the audience at the end of the play realize this antireligious propaganda or are they smitten by the trick of Helen and Menelaus at the expense  of Theoclymenus? Aren't they happy that two people have managed to leave this barbaric country?

If someone isolates some verses against the oracles and the gods he can convince himself and others also that Euripides is propagating antireligious propaganda. This is not a fair attitude. The poets aim was to educate through the stage ( a philosopher  through the stage) and not to have his plays read and especially in a fragmentary way that suits our own interests. Euripides, being a realist, knew that it is normal for man, in times of extreme sorrow and despair, in times of misery and while believing that he suffers in vain, to doubt and curse even gods. And that is a sign of faith. He cannot doubt if he doesn't believe and he cannot curse god if he doesn't admit his existence. Of course we must know that a lot of gods are not deities but the personification of natural or psychological forces of love. passion, etc.

With the help of the ancient drama we can have a greater bond with the immediate reality. What the ancient tragedy aims for is to make clear that a man of this kind or another may say or do this kind of things or he may not say and do this kind of things.

The most important: The hero, acquiring the knowledge of things, connects this knowledge to the weight and the standards of the moral choices. Now the spectator and the reader of the ancient tragedy is urged to get on the stage and make these levels of knowledge his own by incorporating them to his life. However, this process is dramatic. Transition from evolution to knowledge is a drama. Why?

Because finding the courage to overcome your illusions is a very hard thing to do. Most people avoid carrying the cross of torment and willingly avoid the dramatic shift = transition of the soul.

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