From the Shield of Achilles to the Hill of Mars
Is law, backed up by courts whose Ur-model the Areopagus is, a sufficient solution to the Wild West of pre-Classical Greece? Maybe; probably not (any more than law today tames the Wild West of our modern souls); but it’s an improvement on no law, as in Homeric Greece. This is a moment at which to address lawlessness in contemporary America, from the top down! Do we really have law today or not?
The Eumenides also provides an opportunity to contemplate helmeted, grey-eyed Athena as goddess of wisdom (those eyes!) and of war (that helmet!)! What’s that about?! Because of her parthenogenetic birth does it mean the brain of Zeus was full of war and wisdom…? So she had to represent both? How best to understand what this might mean for us?
The other inexhaustible topic is that the Eumenides means “the kindly ones.” How in heck do we read that?—especially if we trust the accounts that tell us that pregnant women gave birth at the entry of the Furies into the Theater of Dionysus, at the first performance.
Carey Harrison was born in London during the Blitz, the Luftwaffe’s bombing onslaught, and as soon as the war ended he was taken to America, where he has lived, on and off, for the past 74 years. The off periods have coincided with his British education, at Harrow School and Cambridge, and a teaching post at Essex University. He has subsequently taught Comparative Literature at Cornell, at the University of California in San Diego, at the University of Texas in Austin, at the Florida Institute of Technology, and for the past 20 years at the City University of New York. He is the author of 16 novels and over 200 plays and scripts for TV, theatre, radio, and film. His work has been shown in 37 countries, and translated into 13 languages. His novels won him a Fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in 2016/17.