Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Something to think about

It is no weakness for the wisest man

To learn when he is wrong, know when to yield.

So, on the margin of a flooded river

Trees bending to the torrent live unbroken,

While those that strain against it are snapped off.

A sailor has to tack and slacken sheets

Before the gale, or find himsel capsized . . . .

Let not your first thought be your only thought.

Think if there cannot be some other way

- Sophocles - from Antigone

Only fools are certain and immovable.

- Montaigne -


  1. I love this line:

    "Let not your first thought be your only thought."

    So many times we want to act on impulse. It can be hard to pull back the reins on our emotions and think it out before speaking. ( It's something I'm still trying to master, LOL.) Thank you for this gentle reminder.

  2. Cheryl,

    Yes, I hadn't decided yet to use this quote until that line appeared. That was what convinced me.

    And, I'm still working on it also.

  3. With respect to ANTIGONE, I remain torn in my verdict: Is it Creon's or Antigone's inflexibility (inability to yield) that is the more troublesome? Although Sophocles wrote about the tensions between individuals and the polis (city-state), which were often complicated by the interference of the gods, I think modern readers and audiences are faced with an interesting problem: shall we attempt to understand the tragedy by viewing it through the eyes of ancient Athens, or should we view it with modern eyes? The choice very much affects the outcomes and reactions. And so, because of the foregoing contextual challenge, I remain perplexed about feeling either empathy or annoyance with either Creon or Antigone. (Note: I was once in a college production of ANTIGONE, and the director clearly presented Creon as the absolute antagonist and Antigone as the tragic protagonist, the person who deserved all of the audience's empathy; I was not convinced of the heavy-handed sensibility of the director's vision.)

  4. R. T.,

    "Genuine tragedies in the world are not conflicts between right and wrong. They are conflicts between two rights." Hegel

    This is one of the meditations I put up some time ago, and I think it fits here very nicely.
    Considering the way Sophocles wrote the play, I think it exemplifies his point. He puts up good arguments for both sides. I wonder if one could use this play to detect political leanings.

    I used the play whenever I could to bring out some discussion about the relevance of something written 2000+ years ago to contemporary problems. The conflict between religious and secular laws is quickly seized upon by a few.