There be dragons!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Horowitz, Homer, Hubris and Hecabe



This quotation is by David Horowitz from his book "The End of Time"

If you last long enough and get to look over collective shoulders and measure the consequences, eventually you achieve life’s most irreversible result, which is the loss of innocence, the illusion that anything can happen and the hope that it will. This is a particularly destructive error. For if anything is possible, then nothing is necessary, and no conclusion follows. Consequently, no consideration can become a caution and no principle a restraint. The desire for more than is possible is the cause of greater human misery than any other.
Therefore recognition of consequences is the beginning of wisdom.
“Death is the dark backing a mirror needs if we are to see anything” (from Ravelstein by Saul Bellow)
This quotation seems to have remarkable pertinence both to the message of growing up in the Iliad and to the naive pride of Hecabe in "The Trojan Women".  In order for Achilles to stop being a menace to himself and others he has to be "pinned" by sorrow and loss so that he lose the vision that he is "the best of the Achaeans".  Only then can he learn real human emotion, share in the sorrow of our race, and consequently share in our ability to love.
Similarly Hecabe in Euripides' play seems to think the world of herself (her recollections of being a queen with so many sons, her repulsion at doing menial tasks such as cooking, and her proud volunteering to debate Helen) - but such an opinion cripples her when it comes to having to deal with the pain of the world.

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