Thursday, 16 September 2010

The heroic Bernard Knox

The great classicist Bernard Knox has died, aged 95. Read an obituary here, which contains this defence of Greco-Western culture and repudiation of multiculturalism:

‘Today our literary curriculum is under attack by educational reformers who... are planning to abolish the cultural tradition on which the West’s sense of its unity and identity is founded. They propose, in the name of multi-culturalism, feminism and political correctness, to replace such patriarchal and racist texts as Homer, the Bible, Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe and Flaubert with works that will presumably direct the eyes of the young forward to the new world of universal sister- and brotherhood.’

I strongly recommend Knox’s book, The Heroic Temper, an eminently readable account of the tragic hero in Sophocles, which includes a fascinating theory that suggests the rise and fall of Oedipus is a metaphor for the rise and fall of Athenian empire and society.

7 comments:

Hermes said...

I read Heroic Temper when I was in my mid-20s. A truly great book. He gave me new insights into undersanding Philoctetes.

Anonymous said...

Bernard hit it right on target...

lastgreek said...

Yes, Atticus, take it from me---
lovers are all soldiers, in Cupid's private army.

Military age equals amatory age---
fighting and making love don't suit the old.

Commanders expect gallantry of their men---
and so do pretty girls.

. . .

If war's a gamble, love's a lottery. Both have ups and downs.
In both apparent heroes can collapse.

So think again if you think of love as a soft option---
it calls for enterprise and courage.

Achilles loved Briseis, sulked when he lost her---
Trojans, now's your chance to hammer the Greeks!


From Ovid's Amores Book II, translated by Peter Green, in The Norton Book of Classical Literature, edited by Bernard Knox.

Just a sample of the richness of classical literature to whet one's reading appetite.

To modern times ...

As the shit [financial crisis] goes down, do not doubt that you have what it takes. You are great because the Greeks are what makes Greece great.

The above gem was from U2's Bono to a sold out crowd at the Olympic Stadium in Athens a couple of weeks ago. It's ironic when you think about it---a blatant tax cheat, Bono, saying this to a nation of tax cheats.

Greek TV ad:

Αγαπάς την Ελλάδα;

Απόδειξη.

Yes, folks. In today's Greece, it has come down to silly slogans, not unlike that silly slogan in the US a few decades back: Just say no to drugs.

(Sigh)


PS: More white, dead Europeans, please. Bono, pay your fair share of taxes or drop dead!

John Akritas said...

I don't like Bono or U2 and today's Greeks are certainly not what makes Greece great. Bono is obviously talking out of his backside. And the only way Greeks will pay a fair share of their taxes and generally start obeying laws is if the state – like in every other country – makes them, i.e. punishes them if they don't. It's not astrophysics. Indeed, one of the reasons why Greece will fail and will be strangled by the IMF for years to come is because those part of Greek society that Greeks remain responsible for will continue to remain unreformed and decline.

Hermes said...

U2 is a bunch of Irish dimwits. If one must listen to "Western" rock/pop music then try and listen to Grinderman fronted by Nick Cave. Or the Dirty Three or even Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Some of the music has been inspired by Rebetika and Warren Ellis plays the bouzouki on record. The drums are played by Jim Sclavunos, who has promoted Rebetika in the press and in his music. Rebetika is regularly featured on the Australian version of the BBC and youth radio.

Hermes said...

Recently, the Xylouris Ensemble and Rebetiki were featured on Australian ABC radio. Listen to it here:

http://abcaustralia.net/rn/musicdeli/stories/2010/3010343.htm

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/musicdeli/stories/2010/3010382.htm

John Akritas said...

I don't know Nick Cave that well, but I am aware of Sclavunos' championing of rembetika. The rembetika and Cretan music you link to is very good. Rembetika is known over here on the world music scene, but very small scale. We don't have a dynamic Greek community in London as I presume there is in Melbourne. I have a relative who's excited to be moving out to Melbourne and another one who's currently in Perth and can't speak highly enough of the city and Australia and wishes he'd moved out years ago. I remain unconvinced, though I have been watching a very good crime drama from Australia, called Underbelly, which suggests Australia is capable of interesting cultural output.

This is an article Sclavunos wrote on rembetika for the Guardian a few years back:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2004/apr/19/guesteditors3