Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Would Euripides' Answer to Violence Nowadays?

In a previous chapter we examined the fine line between democracy, in its fundamental meaning, and the utopian democracy. Our goal now is to examine the causes that led to this situation, meaning the difference between Helen-reality and Helen-appearances.

After Theoclymenus finds out by the messenger's mouth  that Helen and Menelaus escaped, he cries: "Oh! What ineffable shame I have to endure because of a woman and a Greek (l.1621)". He continues (l.1625): "But now I will punish my treacherous sister for not revealing to me that Menelaus was in the palace". He is about to kill his sister.

Later, we hear the slave trying to prevent him from performing this act by saying that this is a forbidden act (it is taboo). If we analyze this word we will understand the point of this enraged slave talking against his king.

So, we have the word "taboo". According to zoology, the term "herd" refers to the way that animals of the same species are organised and coexist in small or large groups. These animals live free in the wild or are brought together by man for economical reasons. In the herd, the individuals are behaving in a congenial way. Each member's activities are monitored by the orders of another member: the leader-adviser. The necessary prerequisites for the formation of the herd are: a) the control of the individual's self-centred passions and b) the prevention of collective sufferings. The leader's rights are at odds with the individual's rights. Specifically, the adviser (sovereign) performs his leading duties and coordinates the  masses. Meaning, he makes sure that the team has discipline and does not stray away. However, we would say that, in a preferential way, the adviser acts in his own accord (somewhat like the father of the primeval horde). All the members are restrained while the leader (of the herd) is free. And this attribute makes him  forbidden, sacred and demonic (taboo) Why taboo? Because the governed members (of the herd) have a dual attitude: a) they wish to cast off this constraint but b) they are afraid exactly because they have this desire. Fear is stronger than desire (something that political powers are well aware of).

According to psychology, the prohibition  of desire (imposed by the leader) causes the birth and advancement of conscience. Because conscience means consequence (of the desire). So, the development of the individual is the result of a) the tendency for personal happiness (egoistic) and b) the tendency for uniting with others and forming a community (altruistic).

However, forbidden (taboo) is not only the leader but also the rebel who breaks the laws given by the leader. So, he is taboo because he is dangerous due to his acting in a forbidden way. Why? Because he tempts people into following his example. He is a dangerous role model. This wrongdoer against power is bound to try and take over the Adviser's power (his authority). There are two possible consequences: the old leader loses his power or the new contender is defeated. It is certain though that stability is shaken. The result of this battle will lead to a new (note: on the social level) set of rules, however, the rules remain always the same as far as their causality is concerned.

If the male goat loses the tragic fight (for taking over the power), he will be sent to exile, out of his herd. This lonely creature will then be mourning because he will have realised his inability to act in a collective manner. This creature bursts into tragic song, hence the word tragedy (τράγος = male goat + ωδή = song).

Let's get back to our drama. What would happen if the slave had not tried to prevent the murder of Theonoe? Theoclymenus would be a role model and, since he is so capable of it, somebody else would try to be a leader in his place. After what we mentioned before, the individual that breaks the rules gives credit to an important and absolute (complete) action.

These days, we watched another tragedy. I'm referring to the incident of August 24th that shocked the American public. The perpetrator of this incident, Jeffrey Johnson, age 58, according to the New York Times, killed a 41 year-old former coworker with a 45-caliber handgun, shooting him three times. The culprit did not have a record and, as the New York Police Department states, this crime is not related to terrorism.

 A lot of people criticize the fact that it is very easy for anyone to acquire a handgun in this country (USA). The mayor of New York has been asking for the prohibition of handguns for years. In another country, Greece (although, recently, at the London Olympic Games the great sponsor of Coca-cola chose not to include Greece in the universal map that the company had prepared for the games) bearing arms is forbidden. However, the Greeks, after the elections of 2012, used another kind of weapon to express violence (se the increase of extremism, suicide, fights and crime).

The deeper reasons that lead people globally to despair should be examined. We can give a possible reason: both perpetrators (the American and the Greek) took action because they were fired from the jobs to which they devoted themselves for several years. On the same day (August 24th) we heard the statement of the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel at her meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras: "I wish that Greece remains a member of the Eurozone, I'm working for this goal and I know of nobody inside the government who is against this."

What kind of advice would Euripides give to Mrs. Merkel? Euripides wrote in his plays: "Beware! Anything that does not agree with Justice does  not  last long."  Troy was burnt to the ground, but the Greeks are at fault because they went too far and murdered women and children. Euripides was kind of foretelling , as if he knew the end of those who talk about the law and Justice. Yet, they should know that the words they're using (law, justice) are ambiguous.

The answer that Euripides would give to the question about violence: (l.512-514) "There is a saying, it's not mine (he is influenced by his teacher Aeschylus and his play (Prometheus Bound", l.125) but it still is wise : there is nothing stronger than a horrible need."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Samaras at Colonus?


In a previous chapter we mentioned that the Athenian theatre in the form of art offered to the people the ideological arms they needed to defend their democratic, political and social institutions. Let's have a look at the immortality of the Greeks, understanding finally Theoclymenus' greatest fear that leads him to the elimination of every Greek that "comes in his turf."

L.154 "He kills any Greek he captures coming here as a stranger." L. 437 "Get away from the palace. Don't disturb my master or you will die because you're Greek. Greeks are not accepted here." L.446 "Stranger, I was given this order. No Greeks are allowed near the palace."L.468 "He is a big enemy of the Greeks." L.479-480 "because if my master catches you he will welcome you with death."

Why all this hatred? Isocrates claimed that the myth of Helen triggered the passionate hatred against barbarians. This feeling led to the freedom of the Greeks and the beginning of the elimination of the Asian  danger for Europe. How was this accomplished? As Isocrates points out, for the first time the Greeks agreed to cooperate and so they won a glorious victory. They proved and confirmed this later, during the Greco-Persian Wars, when they were able to protect Europe from "the Asian hordes." We would say that something similar happened  during the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Dionysios Solomos, shaken by the Greek Revolution of 1821, wrote in only a month the 158 stanzas of the poem "Hymn to Liberty," the 25 year old poet's first major work. The Hymn (that, we must note, has been translated in most languages) is inspired  by the Greek people's fights for freedom from Turkish servitude. If we look closely to the etymology of the words  Ελ-ένη (Helen)  and Ελ-ευθερία (Freedom) we will find many similarities. Like we've mentioned  in previous chapters, "ελ" symbolizes the positive side, meaning the bright one. However, these two Greek words have also a negative side.

Homer calls Helen "ριγεδανήν" ("horrible") because she caused  the death of many heroes. Let's see how our national poet Dionysios Solomos recognizes her. "I recognize you  by the fearsome sharpness of your sword, I recognize you by the gleam (in your eyes) with which you rapidly survey the earth. From the sacred bones of the Hellenes arisen..." I use these lines to point out her negative side. Homer and Solomos are two artists that did not define death as the end. Their works are works of escape towards something greater than death, and Solomos  ends up crying "Hail, o hail, Liberty!" referring to this paramount blessing of freedom.

The heroes of the Trojan War, as well as the heroes of the Greek Revolution of 1821, exceed their limits and so they are the only ones that achieve witnessing this paramount blessing.

Let's come back to our era. Recently,  Prime Minister of Greece Antonis Samaras gave an interview for the German newspaper "Bild" at the Maximos mansion. The Prime Minister was photographed in front of the painting "Grateful Hellas" by  Theodoros Vryzakis (1858), a work of art bearing multiple national symbolisms. Long ago, we saw former Prime Minister George Papandreou giving an interview for Greece's state television sitting at the same desk, however, he avoided appearing in front of this painting  but chose a blue background. George Papandreou received many negative and defiant  comments for this attitude. The comments being justified or not, the answer given to the Hellenic Parliament by the under-secretary was this: "The painting "Grateful Hellas" by Theodoros Vryzakis (1858) belongs to the National art Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum which has the institutional responsibility, among others, for the conservation  of the works of art that are lent for use to other institutions whenever the Gallery finds it necessary. This particular painting has been returned to the National Gallery and has been replaced by another one with the title "Endless field-Delphi", etc.

I would like to point out the phrase spoken two years ago, on October 1st, 2010 "whenever the Gallery finds  it necessary" that makes necessary the return of the painting in the Prime Minister's office on August 25th, 2012. So, the Prime Minister  and the current government make the return of the painting at the Maximos mansion necessary and intentional. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras recently chose to be  photographed with confidence in front of this painting for the German newspaper, a photograph that went around the world. We can analyze the message he wanted to send with the help of his interview for the newspaper. First of all, there is the title adopted by many media: "We need some air to breathe." We would say that this desire is inept and his use of the plural "we want " and "we breathe" is apt because he represents a nation. Why inept? Because personal freedom means that one is able to act (not only in a personal way but also) in the social sphere without being confined by coercion.

Social freedom is secured by equal opportunities for all the members of society and contains the freedom of employment. Next, he mentions that " a possible return to the use of the drachma  would mean the destruction  of Greece and the end of democracy. It would mean five more years of depression and unemployment would reach the percentage of 40%. A nightmare for the country, financial collapse, social turbulence and unprecedented crisis of democracy. The return to the drachma would cause a further decline of the living standards by 70%. Which economy, which democracy can survive like this? In the end, (he notes) it would be like the Weimar Republic."

Here, we discern fear. He's afraid of the consequences  of the collision with more powerful structures. But what is the Prime Minister actually doing? He deprives himself of the ability to use his freedoms. Dictatorships are a typical example of situations where political freedom does not exist. It's typical  for societies to ask their government for more political freedom. And the solution for the Prime Minister's keen desire (which is freedom) is given by another "Theoclymenus". According to Bloomberg L.P. , during the earnest meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Germany and Greece, Minister Westerwelle was adamant against the renegotiation of the terms concerning the austerity measures and Minister Avramopoulos stood "at attention" and noted in his turn that Greece would present in the next weeks the austerity plan  containing the announced cuts as part of Greece's constancy concerning its commitments.

Prime Minister, if you think that these measures will prevent us from becoming a Weimar Republic, then please take down the painting behind your desk and place a new one invoking Oedipus.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Helen 412 BC – Obama 2012 AD


Critics have said a lot about the part of Theonoe. Some believe that this scene (Menelaus+Helen+Theonoe) is superfluous and the play will not sustain any harm if it’s removed. Some believe that the poet included the episode of Theonoe to show his rhetorical skill, due to the fact that this episode contains rhetorical speeches. In my turn, I will quote the reasons that make this scene important, in its time and nowadays, without overlooking its rhetorical elements which help any further clarification.

In v.973-974 Menelaus says: “... or you make Theonoe be less pious than your father.” Theonoe answers (v.998): “I was born pious and I want to remain so. I will never pollute my father’s name and my name. Because, since I was born, there is inside me a –big- sanctuary of justice. That, I will keep alive.”

Euripides wants to point out that if Proteus was pious and fair, his daughter must be equally pious and fair in order for her to administer justice. Besides, the duty of an offspring, born from a fair father, is to imitate the ways of this father (v.941-942). This conduct makes the offspring better than the father, not only because the father’s piety and justice are preserved, but also because they are further cultivated.

Here, Euripides does not compare the father and his children in order to slight the children, but tries to point out the need for the children to continue their father’s character and carry it forward even more.

At this point, we would say that Euripides is influenced by Pericles’ Funeral Oration. Pericles, after dividing Athenians in three generations says: “... each one of them preserves whatever it has inherited from the previous one but on the same time it gets better because, itself, adds something new to its inheritance. Namely, it honors the ancestors as it is fair and proper. Thanks to their valor, our contemporaries left the country free for our sake. They are worthy of praise, but even more our fathers. Because, in addition to all the things they inherited, after they gained all the power we have today, they passed this power on to us.” So, roughly, he analyzes how we got to the power we have today, under what regime and with the help of what habits our power grew stronger.

Barack Obama tried something similar in his presidential campaign speech: “...If some of you are successful, somebody has helped you with that. Sometime in your life, there has been a great mentor. Somebody helped us build this incredible American system that permitted you to flourish...” and he concludes: “Whatever we have accomplished is due to our individual initiative but also to the fact that we endeavor things together.”
Referring to the previous generations that helped building this country, he tries to convince people before the elections that it would be wiser to tax the upper (from a financial point of view) social classes.

Obama received some negative criticism after this speech, as Pericles would say: “...because any man tolerates listening to the praise of others up to the point where he believes he’s capable of accomplishing some of the feats presented. But, envy comes over him, concerning anything that is beyond his power, and so he does not put his faith in it.”

However, since the previous generations put this principle to test, Obama felt obliged to comply to the law and cater, as far as possible, to the desires and beliefs of everybody.

I’m not trying to take a political stand. My goal is to make it known to everybody that poetry and history are on the same level, they both are part of inquiry (Aristotle). The most certain thing is that our leaders have studied history more than ourselves. Therefore, we could say, in certainty, that Ancient Greeks have shaped our world, infusing the conscience of citizens with the utility of democracy. How? Through the union of democratic Athens with its ancient past. Without Pericles there wouldn’t be any tragic poets. Without these poets Pericles wouldn’t exist.

Ancient Greeks may not have been able to travel to Mars yet they managed to obtain Immortality. From this point of view, Ancient Greeks are the pillars and the shapers of our contemporary world. If America reaches the level of Immortality of the Fifth-century BC (Golden Age of Athens), this country will have to study the mistakes the Athenians made thousands of years ago and break new ground in preserving democracy’s fundamental meaning.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Euripides' "Helen" in Times Square


Our positive or negative view of matters depends on the way we perceive and decode time. We find this element of time in Euripides' play. Helen asks Teucer how long it has been since the sack of  Troy. She receives the answer: "It's been seven years that feel like ten." And she asks again: "and before that, you were in Troy for how long?" The answer: "Ten". Surely, we understand that time is very important for the heroes of our drama. What is happening? Has time stopped existing for Helen? A possible answer is that Helen does not speak about time from an objective point of view but from a subjective point of view. She talks about her inner sense of time. I could give you some clear-cut examples to clarify any possible misunderstandings of the concept of time.

The time spent rehearsing and preparing for the play "Helen" is objective. However, the  stressful period until the premiere of the show is subjective for the people involved in the play. Meaning, they perceive differently what time offers and what it takes away.

In New York, we come across skyscrapers. We understand that time seems to outclass the element of space. We feel the tension in matters. American people accept the responsibility of bearing the cost of change contrary to the situation in Greece where we face the problem of the increase in the number of civil servants and the construction of a lawless, timeless, made-of-cement Athens. Even worse, Greece has come up to the point of becoming a country that does not resolve to make some structural changes. Namely, crime has reached such a high level that people are afraid of going out on the streets, of moving around freely and they prefer living shut in their homes because they don't have the courage, under these circumstances of financial misery, to go out and find new ways of communicating. Our house may not let us move around freely but it can make us feel safe.

Isn't this too a kind of tyranny?

Let's go back to New York. New York is a place far away but also very close to our everyday life. Tourists feel like they are lifted up high (Manhattan). They perceive the energy of a superpower on 5th Avenue, at Dow Jones, on 42nd Street, in the famous Times Square, where all cultural events take place. However, there is a danger that is not easily perceived. Americans have turned time into money. Money=feeling=present. Let's cite an example.

The skull is a very familiar symbol. Lately, we find skulls in different colors and sizes everywhere. This new fashion trend is a part of many collections, bracelets, hair pins, dresses, T-shirts. For this print on a T-shirt people pay the (not to so small) sum of 380 €.

Recently, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of art and witnessed the queues of visitors, fans and otherwise, of the exposition dedicated to the designer Alexander McQueen called "Savage Beauty". The symbol of the skull  became prominent after the designer's unexpected death.

Despite his death, the Alexander McQueen brand continued promoting deathly and aggressive creations. Undoubtedly, this is a creator in vogue. I think so because thousands of people wait in line for this exposition and perhaps neglect other timeless works that remain eternal and immortal. I'm talking about works of art that were created thousands of years ago and offer us a glimpse of immortality.

To sum up: The human skull is a sign of warning against lethal danger. Which is that danger for me?
Time. Because when does death become cruel? When it is a part of time.

For the Ancient Greeks death was never cruel. Because the way of life was different. Contemporary cultures are afraid of death.

Euripides does not consider death as the end. His heroes overcome their passions and reach something grander than time. At the end of the play, Theoclymenus says: "Oh! Great sons of Zeus! I threw my pride away!" Time is the enemy of the Ego. Because Ego dies.

Euripides complains because time has taken the place of eternity, hence the tomb of Proteus. That's the reason why I use a clock in the show. "The abyss of time is a mass grave for all of us."

Like in his time, Euripides would still believe nowadays that we have entered an era of Time. However, he gives us an answer that can be helpful.

Time is not alone. Euripides, like all the ancient dramatists, taught his dramas in the most suitable place for communication: the theatre!

This is where the fundamental communication between people is found. The heroes, by transcending their limits, are able to witness the ultimate prize. After the end of the tragedy the audience can manage time with the help of an inner rebirth (catharsis).

Nowadays we face problems that lead to this question = In the end, are we free? Those of us who have the ability to overcome our passions are free.

With this play, Euripides tried to teach us that our absolute tyrant is our utopia. Our whole life is a chase, an "empty shirt" as George Seferis said, the chase of an ideal situation that we will never reach, but still, we torture ourselves being its servants. Yet, we should realize that we serve a tyrant that rules over us and to whom we will never be able to say "no".

Because Helen is Καλλιπάρηον= has a beautiful face.

Euripides and Egypt


The Greeks, under the impression that Helen was real, fought a long-lasting and bloody, real war in a real world. For one prize: death. However, the real woman , Helen, is in Egypt. The Ancient Greeks consider this place a Utopia. Egypt represents the opposite of the social and political conditions of the Fifth-century BC. There, women are of primary importance. Helen is a prevailing figure among Greek women prisoners and is accompanied by a woman called Theonoe who incarnates the highest truth. Who is she? Helen says in her monologue about Theonoe: "She sees matters existing and those that are about to happen". Besides, the etymology of her name leads us also to this conclusion. Θεονόη:(Θεός + Νούς) (God and Mind)= she who understands the divine. She has great prophetic powers. She knows the intimate thoughts, the desires of others : "the whole truth has been exposed to me. I know the name of the man standing next to you! I know what he has endured in the sea." She has the gift of the second thought. She represents rationality, the Mind (Nous) that many philosophers talked about.

So, this goddess of wisdom and logic can easily be compared to the goddess Athena, the favorite daughter of Zeus (born from her father's forehead) who is the goddess of wisdom.

More or less, we've all heard of the common saying: "I would like to have a Greek's second thought." The meaning of this saying is that the first  thought comes with  impulsiveness and consequently leads to destruction. But the second thought comes with logic. We can see matters more clearly and soberly and we are led to actions calmer and not catastrophic. Therefore, we understand that Euripides tries to teach us through Theonoe that when people possess a blind,  impulsive, irrational fury they are led to devastating (on many levels) situations. When can we defeat this blind fury? When we use logic. Logic is the one that confines limits and not impulsiveness. That's why logic and wisdom always defeats irrationality. Knowledge always defeats blind emotion.

On a social level

There are demagogues, who can talk eloquently and fire up the people  leading them to catastrophic results.

On a personal level

There is television whose goal is to cultivate irrational feelings. On one day you're a leader and the next... "Oh! Gods! to  be treated like thus!" (- Menelaus) It makes us act offensively, impulsively and not at all logically.

So, Theonoe or in other words Ειδοθέα=who sees God. Possessor of a superhuman cosmic wisdom, she embodies the highest truth. Free of passions and illusions, she is the possessor of knowledge, a knowledge that transcends the limits of development. A truth beyond logic, the equivalent of the truth as Plato perceived it in his theory of Forms. Using this platonic language we should say that  Troy represents the appearance , the μη ον= non existing , while Egypt is the ον = the matter , the being. Helen lies between these two spaces bearing the form of glory.

The real Helen is in Egypt but, in order for one to accept her, one must first shatter the illusion of her idol.

The idol is connected to its prototype, like Helen ("light") is connected to the moon. The moonlight gives us a false vision of reality because in the penumbra our visions are misrepresented. The moon deludes, deceives, overshadows, misleads.

The idol makes the vision an end in itself, it prevents the sight from expanding further away and keeps man imprisoned in the material world.

Ειδοθέα (who sees God) and Plato.

Platonic philosophy is bipolar and divides the cosmos into the material world and the world of Forms.
His view of knowledge was clearly rationalistic. He believed that the Ideas (Forms), the deepest knowledge of the world's nature, could be perceived only with the use of reason (Nous). The perceptions of our senses, according to Euripides and Plato, were uncertain and even false. However, logical investigation will lead to the  insight of the equivalent transcending ideas. Knowledge is a matter of developing the way of seeing.

Dioscuri are connected to knowledge, meaning to vision, light. Castor and Pollux. The former is related to the sun, the insight= the future and the latter is related to the moon, the intellect = the past.
Heroes must escape from their prisons to see the truth. Meaning that the heroes visit Egypt to see Helen (=moon= torch) who is the greatest prize: the Truth!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Coming Soon...

Hello, watch this preview:
video




AYTO  ΕΙΝΑΙ ΠΟΛΥ ΣΗΜΑΝΤΙΚΟ ΝΑ ΤΟ ΒΛΕΠΑΜΕ:
video

September 11th - 23rd, 2012
 at the 
First Floor Theatre
74A East 4th Street
(between Bowery & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

Showtimes:
Monday-Wednesday 3pm & 7pm
Thursday-Saturday 3pm & 8pm
Sunday 3pm & 5pm

Friday, August 10, 2012

Join Us 9/11 for a Special Fundraiser: A Tragedy for a Tragedy

A TRAGEDY FOR A TRAGEDY: THEATRE GROUP DEDICATES OPENING PERFORMANCES OF EURIPIDES' HELEN OF TROY ON 9/11 TO 9/11-BASED CHARITY, NEW YORK SAYS THANK YOU FOUNDATION


NEW YORK, NY: On, Tuesday, September 11th, 2012, at 3pm and 7pm, at the First Floor Theatre in NYC, the Leonidas-Eftychia Loizides Theatre Group will present the ancient Greek tragedy, Helen of Troy, and on this day, cast members will perform with their hearts open in remembrance and honor of those who passed, and for those who suffered loss on September 11th, 2001. To commemorate 9/11, a portion of the ticket proceeds for both Helen of Troy performances that day will go to the New York Says Thank You Foundation to support the Foundation in its efforts to give back to communities in need. 

The Leonidas-Eftychia Loizides Theatre Group presents 
Helen of Troy, the classic Greek tragedy by Euripides, directed by the critically acclaimed director-actor Eftychia Loizides and starring an extraordinary cast of young American actors. Helen of Troy is a compelling alternative to the myth of Helen, which highlights the anguish and suffering of needlessly losing loved ones to the destruction and extremes of violence.

The mission of the New York Says Thank You Foundation is to commemorate the love and support given to New Yorkers by Americans from across the country in the days, weeks, and months following 9/11, by sending volunteers from New York City each year on the anniversary of 9/11 to help rebuild communities around the country affected by natural or man-made disasters.

The New York Says Thank You Foundation inspires 9/11 responders, survivors and victims' family members to work together to reciprocate the support New York received by completing service projects in areas hit by tragedy. Since 2003, the organization has helped communities in need throughout the country. There are so many stories of how the Foundation's volunteers have given support to other communities in need. You are encouraged to read more about the Foundation and ways to get involved at newyorksaysthankyou.org.

Purchase your tickets for the September 11th performances now and give back to other communities in need throughout the US by seeing Euripides' twist on the myth of Helen!

Showing September 11th through 23rd at the First Floor Theatre, 74A East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003. Tickets are $55 ($35 for students and seniors) and available via SmartTix (smarttix.com or 212-868-4444) and at the Box Office. 





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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

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Helen Of Troy plays at La MaMa Ellen Stewart Theatre
Seating chart & directions

About Helen Of Troy Broadway:

Helen Of Troy plays at La MaMa Ellen Stewart Theatre 
74A East 4th St, New York, NY 10003
Between 2nd Avenue & The Bowery.Map
 
Seating chart & directions


Leonidas Loizides Presents Helen Of Troy: A classical Greek tale beautifully played by the elegant and powerful performance of EFTYCHIA LOIZIDIS. Under the talented direction of the award wining producer and director LEONIDAS LOIZIDIS.

After two successful off-Broadway runs of Aeschylus's Oresteia (2010) and Euripides's Iphigenia in Tauris (2011), Leonidas Loizides's acting troupe will return in the Fall of 2012 to present Euripides' Helen. Produced and directed by the award-wining Leonidas Loizidis, Helen features an outstanding performance by acclaimed actress Eftychia Loizidi and a new adaptation of the play into modern English poetry by Louis Markos, English and Honors Professor and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University.

On Sunday, September 16 and 23 at 7pm, Loizidis will also present Kaddish to a Life not Lived. In this moving monologue, written by Michalis Kokkinaris, translated by Despines Kontaxis, and performed by Eftychia Loizidi, a Jewish woman named Sarah shares her final thoughts before being killed at Auschwitz. In unforgettable words, she mourns for the life that she will never live with the man she loves, the children she will never hold in her arms, and the simple dreams she will never see fulfilled. 

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Performance Schedule:
September 11 - 23, 2012

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*Performance schedule subject to change, Please check the ticketing site. Offer is subject to availability and is valid for new purchases only. This offer may be revoked at any time and may not be combined with other offers. Normal service charges apply. Management reserve all rights.

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