Aeschylus and Suffering

φιλεῖ δὲ τῷ κάμνοντι συσπεύδειν θεός. –Aeschylus

“But god loves to haste to the help of him that suffers.”

Aeschylus was the father of the Greek brand of tragedy, the greatest literary art ever produced. For tragedy is man’s attempt to make sense of suffering. We therefore are able to forgive in direct proportion as we are able to see our own suffering of pain as dignified and an opportunity for nobility rather than our involuntary submission—our being compelled—to feel in our souls.

If love is by definition only able to be given and received under conditions of perfect freedom, then love is the opposite of a soul untutored in the goal of tragedy: to value the life lived even in pain.

For I define tragedy as the natural law that a man can obey all the laws of gods and men and still suffer the worst of fates—without thereby invalidating the goodness of his lawful behavior.

The society without an appreciation of tragedy, then, will view pain as a disease which must be cured, the curing of which justifies any sacrifices.

Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for being the gadfly of my discipline.


About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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