Classical Wisdom Litterae - Sep 2019

Alcibiades, which led to the destruction of the Athenian fleet and Alcibiades’ defection to Sparta. In 409 BC there was a great demand for the return of Alcibiades. Sophocles could have been suggesting the Alcibiades was like Philoctetes in that he was seemingly unbeatable, like Philoctetes’ bow, whilst having underlying flays of arrogance, egotism, hedonism, and dubious loyalty, which can be identified in Philoctetes’ wound that is holding him back from the greatness he is capable of. Essentially, Philoctetes’ wound is a metaphor for Alcibiades’ character flaws. The Athenians, who would have undoubtedly have had war on the brain, may have picked up on this. But unlike the Peloponnesian War, there is no bloodshed in P hiloctetes . Other than the to and fro of bow possession, there is not even actual action in the entire play, so it’s the feeling of tension that drives the plot to its relieving climax. Like in many great productions, it is the threat that a serious incident will occur that is more tantalizing than the actual event itself. As long as there is some ground on which the three men can disagree, there is always a promise of some dramatic explosion, and in this sense, Philoctetes is a far more clever play than most Greek tragedies. And because we don’t get our expected confrontation, the tension is always hanging in the air. A fight or murder would relieve this, but it is only when the curtain falls that we are allowed to exhale. XLV This podcast looks at a man who could be considered the founding father of all we know. He is a man we are culturally and literarily so indebted to that not only does he transcend time and space, but even knowledge. In other words, you are undoubtedly familiar with his works even if you have never take the time to read them for yourself. He is, of course, the legend that is Homer. Listen now or download here . HOMER: M AN OR MYTH ? Homer and His Guide, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1874