Time Holds the Mirror: A Study of Knowledge in Euripides' Hippolytus 9004086013, 9789004086012


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Table of contents :
TIME HOLDS THE MIRROR: A STUDY OF KNOWLEDGE IN EURIPIDES' HIPPOLYTUS
CONTENTS
Acknowledgements
Foreword: a question of knowledge
I. The face and the mask, seeing and knowing
II. Other worlds
III. Δίảυτιλογίαζ
IV. The general and the particular
V. Knowledge and ignorance
VI. Play and Audience
Afterword: the tragedy of knowledge
Bibliography of works cited in the notes
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Time Holds the Mirror: A Study of Knowledge in Euripides' Hippolytus
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TIME HOLDS THE MIRROR

MNEMOSYNE BIBLIOTHECA CLASSICA BA TA VA COLLEGERUNT A. D. LEEMAN· H. W. PLEKET · C.

J. RUIJGH

BIBLIOTHECAE FASCICULOS EDENDOS CURAVIT C J. RUIJGH. KLASSIEK SEMINARIUM, OUDE TURFMARKT 129, AMSTERDAM

SUPPLEMENTUM CENTESIMUM SECUNDUM

C. A. E. LUSCHNIG TIME HOLDS THE MIRROR

TIME HOLDS THE MIRROR A STUDY OF KNOWLEDGE IN EURIPIDES' HIPPOLYTUS

BY

C. A. E. LUSCHNIG

E.J. BRILL LEIDEN • NEW YORK • K0BENHA VN • KOLN 1988

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Luschnig, C. A. E. Time holds the mirror. Mnemosyne, bibliotheca classica Batava. Supplementum, ISSN 0169-8958; 102nd) Bibliography: p. 1. Euripides. Hippolytus. 2. Hippolytus (Greek mythology) in literature. 3. Knowledge, Theory of, in literature. I. Title. II. Series: Mnemosyne, bibliotheca classica Batava. Supplementum; 102. PA3973.H7L87 1987 882'.0l 87-32585 ISBN 90-04-08601-3 (pbk.)

ISSN 0169-8958 ISBN 90 04 08601 3

© Copyright 1988 by E.j. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or translated in any form, by print, photoprint, microfilm, microfiche or any other means without written permission from the publisher PRINTED IN THE NETHERLANDS BY E.J. BRILL

To the students of Classics at the University of Idaho, 1975-1984, this work is ejfectionately dedicated

CONTENTS Acknowledgements........................................................... Foreword: a question of knowledge......................................

1x

I. II. III. IV. V. VI.

The general and the particular .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . Knowledge and ignorance........................................... Play and Audience....................................................

3 19 35 53 75 93

Afterword: the tragedy of knowledge....................................

115

Bibliography of works cited in the notes .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .

11 7

The face and the mask, seeing and knowing................... Other worlds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ~t' 0(\l'ttAO')'LOtt; .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .

x1

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

It is a pleasure to thank the following people and institutions for various kinds of help in the writing of this work: the University of Idaho for support during a sabbatical leave ( for 1983-1984); the National Endowment for the Humanities for a seminar at Stanford University on Greek Tragedy, and especially the Director, Marsh McCall, and the members of that seminar; for the use of their libraries, Stanford University, Washington State University, the University of Washington, and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens; the professors who introduced me to Euripides, Stephen Daitz, the late James Vail, Alister Cameron; my friends and colleagues, Louis Perraud, Connelia McQuillen, Stephen Ott, A. L. H. Rabkin and M. Rabkin; and the members of the Classical Association of the Pacific Northwest for patiently hearing these ideas in inchoate form at perhaps too many annual meetings. For financial support, I would like to thank the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, the College of Letters and Science and the Research Office of the University of Idaho. Special thanks is felt for my students at the University of Idaho who on the occasion of my sabbatical presented me with Allen and ltalie, A Concordance to Euripides. Finally, for patience, wisdom, and much practical advice, I wish to express the deepest appreciation to L. J. Luschnig. C.A.E.L. All Souls' Day, 1983 Kos, Dodecanese

Since 1983 I have made a number of revisions in the text and additions to the bibliography. Some of the more recent studies are not fully integrated into the body of my essay and for this I apologize. Feast of Corpus Christi, 1986 Moscow, Idaho

FOREWORD A QUESTION OF KNOWLEDGE Hippolytus, 40

The subject of these six chapters is deliberately limited to the question of knowledge in Euripides' Hippolytus. They deal with how the characters know and with what is available for them to know, with the arrangement each character gives to the world and with the participation of the audience in the process of knowing. All these questions bear on the major critical issues of the play, causation, responsibility, and motivation, the nature and function of the goddesses, the dramatic focus, single or multiple. The approach has rendered valueless the condemnation of either Phaedra or Hippolytus and it is hoped that even Nurse is given the credit due her. Epistemology is not the subject of this work. Rather, the subject is what the Hippolytus has to say about knowing. At times the remarks that follow may seem abstract. This must not be taken as implying a belief that the Hippolytus is a drama about abstract concepts. There are no abstractions in the play: there are people and situations. There is, on the other hand, talk about abstract concepts and it is in character. It is not my purpose to suggest that this is philosophy parading itself as drama, nor even philosophical drama. What philosophy is in the play is popular philosophy. Is too much being made here of the epistemological shortcomings of men and gods and not enough of the moral failings? Only if the connection between knowing and doing is overlooked. Phaedra does not overlook it. Nor does Hippolytus overlook the connection between knowing and being. Is a concern with how we know and what we know too intellectual for a citizen audience? I think not. Is there a philosophical question that finds itself in folktale, legend, and myth more often than this one? If we know only what we see, we are in danger of overlooking a true prince beneath a reptilian skin or a wolf in sheep's clothing. If we believe what we hear we ignore the cry "no one is hurting me" and let the culprit get away. But if we rely on the predictability of human behavior, eventually the wolf will devour all our flocks. Sometimes knowing the story or the story pattern seduces us into faulty expectations. Perceptions change depending on the point of view of the perceiver: an elephant is more than its tail or leg or trunk. And a man is more than another's perception of him. But that is part of what he is.

XII

FOREWORD: A QUESTION OF KNOWLEDGE

Time is an aspect of knowing. Little by little, scene by scene we come to know what there is for us to know, while at the same time we know more than any of the actors on stage. xcxxou~ 8! 8v71"tWV l~t~TjV' O"tCXV -ruxn 1tpo8tti; X!X"t07t"tpov wan 7totp8lv~ Vtqt XP6vo~· 7totp' ofot fLTj7tO"t' &p8t(71v l-yw.

(428-30)

Time's mirror requires a single viewer and it requires a vast number of viewers. Those viewers are the audience. The single viewer changes as the mirror is passed from hand to hand. The connection between seeing oneself and being seen is made intimately in Phaedra's suggestive image. Hippolytus, Phaedra, Theseus see themselves and what they see is good. When they must see themselves as others see them, what they see is evil. A man is more than his view of himself. But that too is part of what he is. We cannot have all points of view at once. But literature allows us more than one. A tragedy involves all our faculties, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, for a limited time in a complete (that is, having a beginning, middle, and end) action. In the Hippolytus, Euripides causes our perceptions to focus and refocus. He draws us into participation in the epistemological questions of the drama, not as philosophers, but as the active subjects of philosophy.

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