Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

A version of the Introduction appeared in Themes in Drama: Drama and Philosophy, ed. James Redmond (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). This and several other chapters were also given as papers: at the University of California, Riverside (at a conference on "Themes in Drama"), ...

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xxviii

Pathos is our name for the power of some events to stir us to a mysteriously agreeable sadness. It is also our name for the emotions awakened by such an event, a mixture of tenderness and sympathy. When the occasion is some turn or observation in our own lives, pathos may be associated with a sense of loss; ...

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Part I: The Ancient Quarrel

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pp. 1-3

There is only one thing more frightening than an unpredictable and unjust god: a god who is predictable and just. Most people, ancient as well as modern, turn to religion not for reassurance that divinity will help only those who are genuinely deserving, but for forgiveness—love and aid that does not require merit first. ...

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1. "Philosophy" in Socratism

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pp. 4-7

The trial and execution of Socrates was a consequence of several different kinds of crisis, political as well as religious; but it is likely that one of the issues was the one stated most prominently in the actual charge against him. Socrates was accused of holding and fostering a vision of divinity that was incompatible with Athenian piety. ...

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2. Socratism in Plato

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pp. 8-12

Plato's earlier dialogues are dramatic recreations of the effect Socrates had on those whom he met in the marketplace. Plato wanted the whole world to share that special experience. Socrates is shown in the act of embarrassing or irritating the great or notorious as well as the obscure or very young. ...

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3. Socratism in Aristotle

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pp. 13-18

Plato's Socratism was tested, as it were, by the totally unjust conviction and execution of Socrates in 399. Plato records his own revulsion at the event (Epistle 7.325 a—c) and describes the grief of those who were present at the drinking of the poison (Phaedo 116-17). ...

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4. Plato's First Attack: Republic II

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pp. 19-21

Although it is sometimes formulated without any reference to divinity, the basic principle of Socratism is really a theological premise or series of premises. Divinity is entirely good; all divine interventions in human affairs produce good and only good for the human beings; "good" means the same for mortals and for divinity; ...

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5. Pathos in Greek Religion

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pp. 22-28

None of the numerous occurrences of paschein/pathein in the Iliad or Odyssey requires us to assume that anything but bad is being endured.1 Yet the occurrences in Homer do exhibit two contrasting uses: the speaker may believe that the suffering was brought on by the sufferer himself—that is, that it was punishment he deserved; ...

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6. Plato's Second Attack: Republic X

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pp. 29-35

Why Plato had to return to the question of the poets at the end of the Republic he himself makes clear. All had not been said yet, and besides, "it is clearer now" why the poets must be banished, "now that the various kinds of psyche have been distinguished" (595a 6-7). ...

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7. Pathos in Greek Tragedy

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pp. 36-48

We shall have many opportunities in Part II to examine the language of pathos in the surviving tragedies. For the present I shall confine myself to two passages, passages in which the poet appears to address himself to the central question: why do we take such profound pleasure in pathē. ...

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8. Pathos in Aristotle

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pp. 49-54

Only once does Aristotle say what the function of tragedy is, its final cause, its that-for-the-sake-of-which: through pity (eleos) and fear (phobos) it achieves a cleansing (katharsis) of pathēmata corresponding to these (Poetics 1449 b 27-28).1 ...

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9. Plato, Aristotle, and the "Shudder"

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pp. 55-62

Aristotle seems to have gone quite far toward an accommodation with the traditions that emphasized pathe. Still, his admiration for popular religion is that of an outsider. On the whole, he found less to praise or imitate than Plato had. This is especially true of his references to the mysteries. ...

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10. Pathos, pathos, passion, and Passion

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pp. 63-69

The theological crisis called by Plato "the ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy" seemed less and less urgent as the fourth century progressed. The main reason for this appears to have been the resounding triumph (among the literate, at least) of Plato's arguments in favor of "philosophy." ...

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11. The Quarrel Today

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pp. 70-75

In Republic X Socrates expresses what seems to be a sincere hope on Plato's part that partisans of poetry will be able to counter his arguments with a sound defense. Socrates warns his companions, however, that, if the defense proves inadequate, they will have to renounce their love for poetry, however distressing that renunciation may be. ...

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12. Two Case Histories

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pp. 76-79

The function of "great literature," says Yeats, is "the Forgiveness of Sins."1 He means, it turns out, that the readers or audience are forgiven their sins, much as believers are by holy stories. In Part II we shall examine Yeats's "Easter 1916" as an example of a political pathos transformed into literature, in a tradition at least as old as Euripidies. ...

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13. Plato/Aristotle and Freud/Jung

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pp. 80-86

Unlike Yeats, Jung failed to connect his dark vision of reality with the power of myth and literature in general. This is presumably a consequence of his piety: a person who puts supreme value on religion—not a religious-like experience, but the assurance of the literal reality of an actual god—will usually balk at the thought that what he cherishes is the satisfaction of a psychological need, ...

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Part II: Pathos and the Appeal of Tragedy

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pp. 87-89

Aristotle was surely right when he argued that tragedy was not life poisoning, as Plato had said, but life enhancing; however, by trying to show in his defense of tragedy how tragedy was in essential conformity with Socratic morality, he was surely wrong. ...

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14. Justice and Injustice in Homer

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pp. 90-103

The Iliad and Odyssey bequeathed to tragedy two patterns. The action of the Iliad takes place in a world that guarantees little justice for individual human beings. This allows us to enjoy what might otherwise have been painful instances of true justice. ...

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15. Justice and Injustice in the Oresteia

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pp. 104-116

The veneration of heroes more than anything else sets Greek religion off from other religions.1 The piety the Greeks felt toward their heroes was a major source for much that we admire in their achievements, including the development and perfection of tragedy. A hero was neither man nor god. Like us, he must suffer and die; ...

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16. Aeschylus the Eleusinian

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pp. 117-129

Neither the Iliad nor the Oresteia is a direct exploitation of hero religion, a deliberate attempt to reproduce its special solemn thrill in an easily recognizable form. For that we shall have to wait until Sophocles. In a hero story of the Sophoclean sort, the death of the hero is usually of supreme importance, ...

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17. Pathos and the "Shudder" in Sophocles

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pp. 130-140

As we pass from Aeschylus to Sophocles we find a shift from the exploitation of initiatory religion to that of hero religion. Hero religion, one senses, is something Aristotle felt more comfortable with. He disliked "religious shock," to teratōdes, the sudden visual scene that convinced the audience of a supernatural presence (Poetics 1453 b 9). ...

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18. The Anger of the Gods and Heroes

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pp. 141-154

Plutarch explains the slow progress of the would-be Platonist by comparing it to Sophocles' account of the stages by which he shook off the influence of Aeschylus and found his own voice (Moralia 78 e-79 b). There is a fabled land, says Plutarch, where it is so cold that words spoken in winter cannot be heard until they thaw out in spring: ...

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19. Sophocles or Socrates?

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pp. 155-170

Anger as a manifestation of divinity is hardly limited to Sophoclean hero stories. It is quite common in the world's religions. The Greeks recognized many varieties of violent divinity—Hephaestus burning, Poseidon shaking the earth, Zeus thundering, Ares raging in battle. ...

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20. Euripides Against the Myths

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pp. 171-188

The "Ancient Quarrel" was not limited to poets and philosophers in the fifth century. Even history might be narrated in such a way that the historian appears to be taking a stand in the "quarrel." Thucydides moves us by a narrative of the last days of Nicias. He gives us details calculated to make us deeply regret his execution. ...

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21. Our Euripides

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pp. 189-204

When modern readers turn to Euripides they often feel that here at last we have the invention of "modern" theater. This impression arises from three characteristics, all of which set Euripides off from the other ancient tragedians. ...

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Part III: Having it both Ways

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pp. 205-208

Is the power of "the pathos itself" an invariable ingredient in tragedy? Is it perhaps the quality that makes a work "tragic"? From our examination of Greek drama this would seem at least to be in line with the poets' own thinking in fifth-century Athens. ...

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22. Was Plato Serious?

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pp. 209-224

Over the entrance to the Academy was the legend, "Let no one enter here who is not already an accomplished mathematician" (Elias, commentary on Aristotle's Categories 118.18 Busse). Socrates' habit of talking with anyone who would stand still for a cross-examination suggests that his criticisms of ordinary values could stir people on all levels of society and in quite brief encounters. ...

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23. The True Dionysus

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pp. 225-240

The quarrel Socrates and Plato picked with the tragedians was theological in the first instance. Plato's psychological analyses came later, in further support of his objections to the religious vision implicit in tragedy. Now, Dionysus was the god, not only of ecstatic religion as such, but also of tragedy in particular. ...

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24. The Trouble with Psychological Explanations

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pp. 241-257

Plato and Freud both construct psychological models for the "ancient quarrel," or rather for its sources within the human personality. In both models the lowest part of the psyche, the epithymetikon and the id, harbors aboriginal and violent phantasies that account for the alarming contents of dreams, madness, and religious and literary myths. ...

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25. The Trouble with Aristotle's Alternative

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pp. 258-267

Plato's perception of the poet's influence as pernicious was obviously not the consequence of a personal distaste for poetry. As we have seen, it was dictated by the logic of Socratism: if it is not possible that a truly good person can ever be truly unhappy, then the vision central to "poetry" is false and dangerous. ...

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26. The Nature of Tragedy

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pp. 268-299

Who is right, Plato or Aristotle? From the sixteenth century to the present this has not seemed to be a very interesting question. Plato was wrong to condemn tragedy, Aristotle right to defend it. That much is clear. But if the question is which philosopher came closer to a true understanding of the nature of tragedy, the answer must be quite different. ...

Bibliography

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p. 300

Text and Commentaries

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pp. 300-301

Secondary Sources

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pp. 301-310

Index

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pp. 311-318