Friday, December 10, 2010

The seduction of boys ii

Twenty-four hundred years ago, an 87-year-old man staged a play, on looking right into the eyes of a son of the gods, teaching him to embrace lying about war. The youth obeyed. This was called, tragedy. Those were the days.

I far prefer failure, if it is honest,
to victory earned by treachery.

You will see as I have that everywhere
it is our words that win, and not our deeds.

What are your orders, apart from telling lies?

To take him by trickery, however deceitful.

And you do not find such lying disgusting?

You will be called wise because of your trick,
and brave for the sack of Troy.

Then let it be so. I will do what you order,
putting aside my sense of shame.

409 BC
Gregory McNamee, translation
Copper Canyon Press, 1986©


  1. Laurent, you are so right! It is tragic that there is no honour left today. we should be looking to Olympia and Sparta for inspiration on how to conduct ourselves!

  2. Oh, I'd settle for not cloaking bellicosity in the innocence of the young, eroticising its ignobility with their trusting countenance, and trumpeting their "sacrifice" as honestly procured or even phantasmically justified. I'd not pretend to love them by protecting them from fact. I'd not send them to defend a birthright I debased behind them. And I'd not make an industry of their blood. I admit, we might not see as much war that way.

  3. by the way: the 87-year-old man staged his play at the festival of Dionysus... no question why he won first prize!

  4. Yeah, I hear you guys can get a little outta control at these ceremonies; one shudders to think what might have been on the Late Show. By the way, I was rather hoping you'd like the Apollo Nike. Philoctetes seems much mended after all these years. Does Lemnos bottle any of that water for export?

  5. No water, only Limnio wine...

    Thought it was Neoptolemus in the picture, who must have inherited the heel contours from his father Achilles!

    but I hate the Nikes!

  6. Hating is not your kind of thing, Tassos, and I wouldn't venture into something you're not cut out to do. As for "the Nikes," I don't know if you refer to the mythic figures or this corporation or its logotype or its products; so again you bewilder me. And this sensation is too much like pleasure to have come from hatred. :)