Sunday, November 20, 2011

Quotes from ancient theatrical plays: Aeschylus "Agamemnon"

Agamemnon was the leader of the Greeks in the Trojan expedition. In the Homeric epics his feud with Achilles made the latter withdraw from fighting the Trojans.

I omit many other important quotes cause sometimes translation from one language to another makes some parts lose their initial meaning. Theatrical translation doesn't have to do always with meaning but also with other aspects of theatrical discourse like verses and the musicianship of the lines.

Agamemnon begins with a Watchman on duty on the roof of the palace at Argos, waiting for a signal announcing the fall of Troy to the Greek armies. A beacon flashes, and he joyfully runs to tell the news to Queen Clytemnestra. When he is gone, the Chorus, made up of the old men of Argos, enters and tells the story of how the Trojan Prince Paris stole Helen, the wife of the Greek king Menelaus, leading to ten years of war between Greece and Troy. Then the Chorus recalls how Clytemnestra's husband Agamemnon (Menelaus' brother) sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia to the god Artemis to obtain a favorable wind for the Greek fleet.

The Queen appears, and the Chorus asks her why she has ordered sacrifices of thanksgiving. She tells them that a system of beacons has brought word that Troy fell the previous night. The Chorus give thanks to the gods, but wonder if her news is true; a Herald appears and confirms the tidings, describing the army's sufferings at Troy and giving thanks for a safe homecoming. Clytemnestra sends him back to Agamemnon, to tell her husband to come swiftly, but before he departs, the Chorus asks him for news of Menelaus. The Herald replies that a terrible storm seized the Greek fleet on the way home, leaving Menelaus and many others missing.

The Chorus sings of the terrible destructive power of Helen's beauty. Agamemnon enters, riding in his chariot with Cassandra, a Trojan Princess whom he has taken as his slave and concubine. Clytemnestra welcomes him, professing her love, and orders a carpet of purple robes spread in front of him as he enters the palace. Agamemnon acts coldly toward her, and says that to walk on the carpet would be an act of hubris, or dangerous pride; she badgers him into walking on the robes, however, and he enters the palace.

The Chorus expresses a sense of foreboding, and Clytemnestra comes outside to order Cassandra inside. The Trojan Princess is silent, and the Queen leaves her in frustration. Then Cassandra begins to speak, uttering incoherent prophecies about a curse on the house of Agamemnon. She tells the Chorus that they will see their king dead, says that she will die as well, and then predicts that an avenger will come. After these bold predictions, she seems resigned to her fate, and enters the house. The Chorus' fears grow, and they hear Agamemnon cry out in pain from inside. As they debate what to do, the doors open, and Clytemnestra appears, standing over the corpses of her husband and Cassandra. She declares that she has killed him to avenge Iphigenia, and then is joined by her lover Aegisthus, Agamemnon's cousin, whose brothers were cooked and served to Aegisthus' father by Agamemnon's father. They take over the government, and the Chorus declares that Clytemnestra's son Orestes will return from exile to avenge his father.

lines 160-166

God, whoever he may be,—if by this name it pleases him to be invoked, by this name I call to him—as I weigh all things in the balance, I have nothing to compare [165] save “God,” if in truth I must cast aside this vain burden from my heart.

line  249

Justice inclines her scales so that wisdom comes at the price of suffering

line 456-7

Dangerous is a people's voice charged with wrath—it acts as a curse of publicly ratified doom.

lines 461-473

In the end the black Spirits of Vengeance bring to obscurity that one who has prospered in unrighteousness and [465] wear down his fortunes by reverse. Once a man is among the unseen, there is no more help for him. Glory in excess is fraught with peril; [470] the lofty peak is struck by Zeus' thunderbolt. I choose prosperity unassailed by envy. May I not be a sacker of cities, and may I not myself be despoiled and live to see my own life in another's power!

lines 551-554

Yes, all's well, well ended. Yet, of what occurred in the long years, one might well say that part fell out happily, and part in turn amiss. But who, unless he is a god, is free from suffering all his days? [555] For were I to recount our hardships and our wretched quarters, the scanty space and the sorry berths——what did we not have to complain of . . 

lines 788-798

Many of mortal men put appearance before truth and thereby transgress the right. [790] Every one is ready to heave a sigh over the unfortunate, but no sting of true sorrow reaches the heart; and in seeming sympathy they join in others' joy, forcing their faces into smiles.
Clytaemnystra with her lover ready to kill her husbant Agamemnon

lines 832-837

For few there are among men in whom it is inborn to admire without envy a friend's good fortune. For the venom of malevolence settles upon the heart and [835] doubles the burden of him who suffers from that plague: he is himself weighed down by his own calamity, and groans to see another's prosperity. 

line 885

it is natural  for men to trample all the more upon the fallen

lines 1327-1329

Alas for human fortune! When prosperous, a mere shadow can overturn it; if misfortune strikes, the dash of a wet sponge blots out the drawing.

line 1369

We should be sure of the facts before we indulge our wrath. For surmise differs from assurance

More Quotes:
Iketidae by Aeschylus

sources: for the translated lines for the summary of the play

Friday, November 18, 2011

How the Papal Rome became the capital of Italy.

The Italian peninsula in 1861.

Since the time of the first independence movements in the 19th century, the issue of the ineligibility of the political and spiritual authority of the pope arose. Napoleon III was approving the Italian unification and the restraining of the papal territories but in the same time as a leader of a catholic state he didn't want to see a pope growing weaker and weaker.Additionally the pope was the spiritual father of Napoleon's III son who would be the future king of France.

The Italians were discontent  with the existence of the French papal guard in Rome and didn't cease to remind the issue of Rome to Napoleon III. Napoleon III was trying to find a consenting decision than would satisfy the Italians and wouldn't infuriate the catholics in his country and the catholic bishops.

Napoleon III emperor of France
Paradoxically Garibaldi's conquest of the kingdom of Naples would trigger new developments on the matter. In 1861 Garibaldi encouraged secretly by the Italian government sailed to Palermo to recruit soldiers in order to march towards Rome and occupy it. However Napoleon III was so enraged that the Italians themselves attempted to stop Garibaldi . In 1862 in the battle of Aspromonte Garibaldi was captured and his army was scattered.The next days negotiations between Italy and France began and eventually ended in 1864 with the agreement of September. According to the agreement Napoleon III had to withdraw the french guards from Rome and the Italian king had to respect the papal authority. Victor Emmanuel the Italian king moved his capital to Florence phenomenically quitting from claiming Rome.

Napoleon III  worried about the reaction of the Italian minorities in France was tried to find a way to pay a compensation to Italy. He found a perfect pretext for this in the eve of the war between the Austrians and the Prussians.  Before engaging into war with Vienna, Bismark enquired Napoleon III about his neutrality in this war. Napoleon III told him that he would keep his neutrality and in exchange he wanted Bismark to cede Venice to Italy in case of a Prussian victory.

The Austrians also worried by the prospect of an alliance of the French with the Prussians negotiated to cede Venice to Italy and in exchange if they were victorious they would annex Silesia. Therefore a new situation was created by which Italy would be favoured one way or another.

Giuseppe Garibaldi
Although everything was favourable for Italy in the battlefield the Italian army and navy proved to be much weaker than the circumastances demanded.  Fortunately for the Italians the Prussians were victorious against Austria and set out peace negotiations as winners. Although Bismark didn't negotiate in favour of the Italians, Napoleon's III intervention achieved the annexation of Venice to Italy. This unexpected annexation made the Italians turn their eyes once again to Rome. However the French emperor who was the one who encouraged and supported the Italian unification was the main obstacle in the Italian claims about the political authority of the Pope over Rome.

Once again Garibaldi led a new expedition in 1867 against Rome but Napoleon III under pressure of the French catholics sent a French regiment to Italy in order to stop Garibaldi. The French were successful at stopping Garibaldi and this triggered a series of tensions between the two nations. The French prime minister's speech in the parliament made the situation even worse. He said : Italy will never conquer Rome.France will never tolerate such a violence against its honor and catholicism. The day that Italy will attempt to take Rome France will stand and defend it. 

However these words didn't seem to have much of  importance as three years later when France was in the verge of war with Prussia and negotiated with Italy about a potential alliance. Although the French were not negotiating the Rome issue, after the French defeat in the battle of Sedan and the capture of Napoleon III by Prussian forces the French guard of Rome withdrew and after a parody battle the Italians captured Rome and Victor Emmanuel moved his capital there. Later via a referendum the Italian king ratified the annexation of Rome to Italy.

Napoleon discusses with Otto von Bismark after being captured in the battle of Sedan
source: based on History of Europe by Serge Berstein, Pierre Milza

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quotes from ancient theatrical plays: Aeschylus "The suppliants"

Occasionally i will be posting interesting quotes from ancient literature.This time i will the post the most interesting quotes from the  play by Aeschylus called "The suppliants"(Ικέτιδαι).

The Suppliants is a play about some Egyptian women called Danaids who flee from Egypt to avoid a forced marriage and try to find refuge in a Greek city called Argos.

lines (86-101)  Chorus

εὖ δ᾽ εἴη Διόθεν παναληθῶς
Διὸς ἵμερος οὐκ εὐθήρατος ἐτύχθη
παντᾷ τοι φλεγέθει 
κἀν σκότῳ μελαίνᾳ ξὺν τύχᾳ 
μερόπεσσι λαοῖς.
πίπτει δ᾽ ἀσφαλὲς οὐδ᾽ ἐπὶ νώτῳ
κορυφᾷ Διὸς εἰ κρανθῇ , πρᾶγμα τέλειον
δαυλοὶ γὰρ πραπίδων 
δάσκιοί τε τείνουσιν πόροι 
κατιδεῖν ἄφραστοι.
ἰάπτει δ᾽ ἐλπίδων 
ἀφ᾽ ὑψιπύργων πανώλεις 
βροτούςβίαν δ᾽ 
οὔτιν᾽ ἐξοπλίζει
πᾶν ἄπονον δαιμονίων

But may Zeus grant that it go well with us. For Zeus' desire is hard to trace: it shines everywhere, even in gloom, together with fortune [90] obscure to mortal men.
Safely it falls, and not upon its back, whatever deed comes to pass at Zeus' nod; for the pathways of his understanding stretch dark and tangled, [95] beyond comprehension.
From their high-towering hopes he hurls mankind to utter destruction; yet he does not marshal any armed violence— [100] all that is wrought by the powers divine is free from toil. Seated on his holy throne, unmoved, in mysterious ways he accomplishes his will.

line (165)  Chorus

χαλεποῦ γὰρ ἐκ 
πνεύματος εἶσι χειμών.

 a stormy sea follows a harsh wind.

line (203)  Danaus

θρασυστομεῖν γὰρ οὐ πρέπει τοὺς ἥσσονας.

Bold speech does not suit the weak.

The Danaids

lines (381-186) Chorus

τὸν ὑψόθεν σκοπὸν ἐπισκόπει
φύλακα πολυπόνων 
βροτῶνοἳ τοῖς πέλας προσήμενοι 
δίκας οὐ τυγχάνουσιν ἐννόμου
μένει τοι Ζηνὸς ἱκταίου κότος 
δυσπαραθέλκτους παθόντος οἴκτοις.

Look to him who looks down from above, to him, the guardian of mortals sore-distressed, who appeal to their neighbors, yet do not obtain the justice that is their right. [385] The wrath of Zeus, the suppliant's god, remains, and will not be softened by a sufferer's complaints.

lines (434-436) Chorus

ἴσθι γάρπαισὶ τάδε καὶ δόμοις
ὁπότερ᾽ ἂν κτίσῃς
μένει ἄρ ἐκτίνειν 

For be assured of this—whichever end you bring to pass, to your children and house [435] does it remain to make full payment. Consider these just ordinances of God.

lines (442) King

 τοῖσιν  τοῖς πόλεμον αἴρεσθαι μέγαν 440
πᾶσ᾽ ἔστ᾽ ἀνάγκηκαὶ γεγόμφωται σκάφος 
στρέβλαισι ναυτικαῖσιν ὡς προσηγμένον

There is no result without grievous hurt

lines (697-700) Chorus

φυλάσσοι τ᾽ ἀτρεμαῖα τιμὰς 
τὸ δάμιοντὸ πτόλιν κρατύνει

 May the people who control the state guard its privileges free from fear— [700] a prudent government counselling wisely for the public prosperity.

lines (792-798) Chorus

πόθεν δέ μοι γένοιτ᾽ ἂν αἰθέρος θρόνος
πρὸς ὃν νέφη μυδηλὰ γίγνεται χιών
 λισσὰς αἰγίλιψ ἀπρόσ- 
δεικτος οἰόφρων κρεμὰς 
γυπιὰς πέτραβαθὺ 
πτῶμα μαρτυροῦσά μοι
πρὶν δαΐκτορος βίᾳ 
καρδίας γάμου κυρῆσαι;

Ah that somewhere in the upper air I might find a seat against which the dank clouds turn into snow, or some bare, inaccessible crag, [795] beyond sight, brooding in solitude, beetling, vulture-haunted, to bear witness to my plunge into the depths before I am ever forced into a marriage that would pierce my heart!

theatrical masks. All the actors should wear one.

lines (998-1005) Danaus

ὥραν ἐχούσας τήνδ᾽ ἐπίστρεπτον βροτοῖς
τέρειν᾽ ὀπώρα δ᾽ εὐφύλακτος οὐδαμῶς
θῆρες δὲ κηραίνουσι καὶ βροτοίτί μήν
καὶ κνώδαλα πτεροῦντα καὶ πεδοστιβῆ
καρπώματα στάζοντα κηρύσσει Κύπρις 
καλωρα κωλύουσαν θωσμένειν ἐρῶ,† 
καὶ παρθένων χλιδαῖσιν εὐμόρφοις ἔπι 
πᾶς τις παρελθὼν ὄμματος θελκτήριον 

 The tender ripeness of summer fruit is in no way easy to protect; beasts despoil it—and men, why not?— [1000] and brutes that fly and those that walk the earth. Love's goddess spreads news abroad of fruit bursting ripe. . . . So all men, as they pass, [1005] mastered by desire, shoot an alluring arrow of the eye at the delicate beauty of virgins.

lines (1037-1042)

τίεται δ᾽ αἰολόμητις 
θεὸς ἔργοις ἐπὶ σεμνοῖς
μετάκοινοι δὲ φίλᾷ ματρὶ πάρεισιν 
Πόθος  τ᾽ οὐδὲν ἄπαρνον 
τελέθει θέλκτορι Πειθοῖ
δέδοται δ᾽ Ἁρμονίᾳ μοῖρ᾽ Ἀφροδίτας 
ψεδυρᾷ τρίβῳ τ᾽ Ἐρώτων.

And in the train of their mother are Desire and she to whom nothing is denied, [1040] winning Persuasion; and to Harmonia has been given a share of Aphrodite, and to the whispering touches of the Loves.

line (1048-1049)

ὅ τί τοι μόρσιμόν ἐστιντὸ γένοιτ᾽ ἄν
Διὸς οὐ παρβατός ἐστιν 

Whatever is fated, that will come to pass. The mighty, untrammelled will of Zeus cannot be transgressed.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Can continuous loaning reduce or increase the public debt of a country? Let's go back in history and see.

Between 1822 and 1826  Great Britain which was at the time  a world power as an intention of goodwill(?) offered loans to the countries of Latin America which were under Spanish and Portuguese colonial occupation.The loans were worth of 23 million golden sterlings. We can compare this aid like the Marshall plan undertaken by U.S.A for helping the severely damaged from the WW2 European countries.

These loans were about to be used by the countries to develop an infrastructure, create new working positions for the impoverished population, and develop and prospering economy.Once the loan was approved immediately its amount was reduced by taxation,interest and various expenses.Latin America received the remaining money which which were...7 million sterlings. However those who received the loan should repay the whole amount of the loan and not the amount that eventually ended up in their countries.

One of those loans was given to Argentina in 1824  by the British bank Baring brothers with a guarantee from the British bureaucracy. From the one million sterlings again because of some economic factors only 575.000 were given to Argentina in banknotes instead of pure gold as it was agreed.The governments of these countries were consisted of corrupted aristocrats who were in the sphere of influence of various European countries As a result not even a sterling was used for the development of their countries. There was no infrastructure created no industrial developement and generally there were no positive conditions for these countries to cut the colonial economic bonds with the Europeans.On the contrary the money was spent for personal reasons of the members of the governments and inevitably some years later Argentina was not able to pay the instalments of a loan that technically never received.

The British were not upset for the inability of Argentina to repay the loan.By showing generosity(?) they approved new loans for Argentina so that it could be able to pay the instalments of the old loans.This procedure became permanent . Argentina was receiving new loans in banknotes from which as usual the 50% of money remained in Britain for taxation and etc. Argentina was  paying with that money the instalments of previous loans in the price they were approved and not in the price of money which eventually were received by Argentina.

The first loan which ended up in the pockets of aristocrats was fully repaid in the end of 19th century. With the interest rate Argentina repaid a loan of 500.000 sterlings giving back 4 million sterlings.When Argentina repaid its first loan the whole amount that it owed to Britain for the subsequent loans was 130 million sterlings. This was nearly 260 times higher than the initial amount of money loaned by Britain to Argentina.

This was just a prologue of what was coming 100 years later in 2001.

Wherever you see Argentina replace the name with Greece. And wherever you see Britain replace it with banks. There you go, now we now that history is recursive.

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