1. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    The best book ever written?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Lemex, Jan 7, 2015.

    No, I'm not looking for one. I'm proposing one.

    I am also proposing to everyone reads this. Please, go out and buy yourself a copy of this book. I know the idea of the Chorus will take a bit of getting used to, but take the chance anyway. I guess really the translation doesn't matter, but I highly recommend the Robert Fagles translation. The book I mean is The Oresteia. It is in my opinion, honest opinion, the greatest work of fiction ever written by a human being. I'm hardly alone in this opinion either. Someone, I don't remember who (it's quoted in the video bellow) once said that Ancient Greece produced two eternal works of art, The Parthenon and The Oresteia. Homer is only second rate, apparently!

    What I absolutely love about The Oresteia is the fact that it is, in one respect, the story of people getting things wrong - and I like that a lot. And the characters of The Oresteia do get things wrong, oh so very wrong, and this human core is more interesting than the religious aspects of the trilogy, which are both very important and maybe somewhat lost on our modern, increasingly secular world. Also, the religious and the human are mixed in this trilogy; it ends with a union between the gods and man to create a civilization based on justice, following the barbarity of a civilization based on tribalism.

    The Oresteia, then, is ultimately a calling out for human dignity and union against a backdrop of a world of violence and paranoia. This is the one thing that should be taken away from the ending of the 'Eumenides' and is one of the most beautiful messages I know. We are all brothers and sisters of the human race, and we humanity have both the right and the duty to take care of ourselves. But some pretty dark things had to happen over the course of this trilogy for there to be this euphoria. Really, the Eumenides (often translated as 'The Kindly Ones', is the break in a cycle of violence that was only getting worse and worse. This break is the thing we need to take notice of.

    From the above, I would say that even though this trilogy is approximately 2,500 years old by now, it is still contemporary. The current awful events in the middle east, the religious hatreds, are the result of a cycle of violence that shows no sign of being stopped. And a cycle of violence all to often only gets worse and worse. In this, we today can learn something from this story of Orestes killing his mother, for the murder of his father, for the murder of a child, for the blessing to go to war: all the end result of history.

    If you are interested, I highly recommend this short lecture by Dr. Ralph Williams, who explains the complexity and majesty of this supreme masterwork (and I really do think it is THE supreme masterwork) better than I can. I hope you do watch it, and I really hope you enjoy it:

     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
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  2. Kingtype
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    Kingtype Always writing or thinking things XD Staff Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    @Lemex:

    Aeschylus.....right?

    "Tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the world." I've always loved that quote very much yet I've yet to read anything by him but I heard the quote loooong time ago before who I knew actually said it XD

    But it is time I read this.

    This has convinced me to put it on my already large reading list for 2015.
     
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  3. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    You'd better hurry up because when my book comes out it will lose the title...
     
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  4. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Yeah, Aeschylus it was! :D

    He had some amazingly good quotes. The quote you posted is actually staggeringly beautiful. I also always liked, from The Libation Bearers 'So, win all - lose all, we have come to this: the crisis of our lives'. I don't know why, but that just hits me.
     
  5. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Like many others, I've never really liked the works from Ancient Greece. It's not that I've read them, but they just feel so astoundingly boring. Whenever my Swedish teacher mentioned Ancient Greece everyone in my class would sigh and shake their heads (as in, "For God's sake, not that shit again!").

    However, for the last few weeks/months I have honestly considered reading one of them. It's not because I have learned more about the works, but because I know so little. Though I doubt that had it not been for this forum (I'm looking at you, @Lemex, :p), the thought would never have crossed my mind.
     
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  6. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I think schools almost consciously want students to not like the books they study. It's the only reason why I think Shakespeare is taught so badly, teachers should emphasize the sex jokes and the violence - that's why people went to see the plays in the first place! :p

    Honestly, the Greek classics can be very strange, as they work along different conventions to what we are used to, but it's one of those things where the more work you put in to meeting them on their terms (which is necessary, they are 2,000 years old at least) then the more reward you get out of them. I think it's important to remember who the targeted audience for this stuff was too, Homer was never for the elite, he was for the common man who wanted a story about wars and heroes.
     
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  7. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I wonder what my brother would say if he caught me reading a copy of The Illiad or Oedipus...
     
  8. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Haha, well, if you can get used to the idea of the calling on the muses for support in Epic poetry, which takes most people by surprise and seems rather silly to us now, you should find The Illiad to be a really awesome war story. :D And Oedipus, well, there was a good video about that by my good friends over at CrashCourse:



    If John Green can make it cool, why not? :)
     
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  9. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Haha, that video was awesome.
    And it definitely made Oedipus sound interesting. ;)
     
  10. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    CrachCourse also has a decent video on The Odyssey, but it only discusses one aspect of that poem. It should be a good introduction to Homer anyway.

    I honestly think Greek Drama is something many more people should take interest in, it's a very interesting, very intelligent, and very rewarding subject. :)
     
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