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Sing a Song of Woe, But May the Good Prevail!

Even as trouble, bringing memory of pain,

Droppeth o’er the mind in sleep,

So to men in their despite cometh wisdom.

I finished reading Agamemnon, the Greek tragic play by Aeschylus.  The tragic story of a king who sacrifices his daughter to win an epic battle offers many proverbs for the modern reader.  And, surprisingly, I found the first half of the play almost delightful.

What joy is sweeter in a woman’s eyes than to unbar the gates for her husband,

When God hath spared him to return from war?

The love of Clytaemestra for her husband and her exaltation upon his return stirred my own soul.  How much more could I rejoice and sing upon the arrival of my own true beloved?

When a house is righteous,

The lot of its children is blessed alway.

In true Greek epic fashion, this is a morality play.  Morals and proverbs abound, and my journal was soon filled with such “wisdom of men” as we know follow God’s laws.  Indeed, it is hard to read some ancient platitudes without smiling at their familiarity.

Hast thou eyes and lackest understanding?

Kick not against the pricks

Lest though strike to the hurt.

But, most sobering of all, is the solemn warning throughout: the sacrifice of one’s young will not go unpunished.

Not by offerings burned in secret,

Not by secret libations,

Not by tears,

Shall man soften the stubborn wrath of

Sacrifices unsanctified.

Agamemnon’s tale is still a warning to parents today.

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