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Ken Armstrong wrote:
>
>
>
>   Carrol,
>
>    It tells me something that you make a conclusion about Eliot based on
> Peter's statement. Just out of curiosity, when did it become necessary to
> exclude the moral and psychological from the political and religious? And
> then you say:

Of course. If Peter's statement is wrong, then the part of my post
grounded on that is wrong about Eliot. Such "if...then" arguments are
commonplace. The part of my post that focused on _Aeschylus_, however,
was quite independent of Peter's account of Eliot. Those who accept my
argument on Aeschylus and know Eliot's drama better than I can make
their own comparisons.

But you too seem to accept what I see as the core of Peter's commentary:
the assumption that Aeschylus' drama has a "moral and psychological"
substance. Now, I remember _Murder in the Cathedral_ a bit better than I
do the other plays. Am I correct that in that play Eliot makes a big
deal out of _motive_ independently of the validity/invalidity of the
action itself? If so, I would say that the play enacts an
_anti-political_ perspective. And as to religion, the religion I was
thinking of (naturally) was that of classical and pre-classical Greece,
and I would certainly relate that to politics more than to what we now
call either moral or psychological (or religious) concerns.

In Aeschylus, as in Sophocles for that matter, "motive" refers to public
reason for an action, not the private state of one's soul. The oracle at
Delphi was the center of aristocratic power in Greece, and its
injunction to "Know yourself" should be translated into modern thought
as "Know your place" or, more explicitly yet, "Honor your betters or get
your head smashed in," which Athenian peasants and artisans, to the
immortal disgust of Plato, stubbornly refused to do, thereby creating
what, so far, is as close as the world has ever come to actual democracy
(rule of the _demos_). I am not overlooking the question of women and
slavery in Athens, but that is too complex to take up here. It is highly
interesting that Aeschylus, at the end of a long life, sitting down in
effect to dramatize the whole history of the world, chose a plot that
involved matricide and an assertion by a female deity favoring men. That
part was not, so far as I know, part of the original mythical material
he worked with. (For detailed discussion of much of this see Ellen
Meiksins Wood, _Peasant-Citizen and Slave: The Foundations of Athenian
Democracy_)

It is also throws some light on classical Greek thought if we remember
that our word for "idiot" (i.e., someone who is 'not all there') comes
from a Greek word meaning "private person."

Carrol