"The Kingdom of Heaven within us": inner (world) peace in Gilbert Murray's Trojan Women.
"Pity is a rebel passion," claims Gilbert Murray. "Its hand is against the strong, against the organised force of society, against conventional sanctions and accepted Gods. It is the Kingdom of Heaven within us fighting against the brute powers of the world; and it is apt to have those qualities of unreason, of contempt for the counting of costs and the balancing of sacrifices, of recklessness, and even, in the last resort, of ruthlessness, which so often marks the paths of heavenly things and the doings of the children of light. It brings not peace, but a sword." (1)
Thus reads the introduction to Murray's 1905 translation of Euripides' Trojan Women, a passage in which, through hints, clues, and pithy pronouncements, Murray the interpreter directs a reading of Murray the translator. (2) (Not that the two are quite so distinguishable.) Observe the bewildering array of ideas, packaged in the author's trademark authoritative-yet-accessible style. First, compassion is the supreme virtue, although "pity" implies that patronizing regard for one's social inferiors that the historian Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) described as Murray's "aristocratic liberalism." (3) Second, radical compassion ("rebel passion") opposes conservative--Conservative?--indifference. Third, Murray celebrates specific Liberal endeavors: championing underdogs ("against the strong"), controlling executive power ("against the organised force of society"), and supporting individual liberty ("against the brute powers of the world"). (4) Liberal pity resists organized strength. Fourth, note "The Kingdom of Heaven within us" Compassion is an internal, quasi-religious response concerning "heavenly things" and "children of light." This Kingdom, with its "qualities of unreason," encompasses the irrational; one's soul dictates one's moral action, even at the expense of reason. Finally, pity "brings not peace, but a sword." Compassion at any cost does not mean peace at any price.
The Kingdom of Heaven, however, contains yet more. "Live according to Nature," wrote Murray in the introduction to his 1902 Bacchae translation, "and Life itself is happiness. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you--here and now. You have but to accept it and live with it--not obscure it by striving and hating and looking in the wrong place." (5) First, then, acceptance of human(ist) nature brings happiness. Second, ill-judged speculation hides man's essential goodness. (Contrast Socrates' dictum that the unexamined life is not worth living.) (6) Finally, the Kingdom allows no hate, even though it may allow violence. Overall, "rebel passion" motivates compassionate-radical-Liberal-spiritual-humanist-tough-love.
As inaugural chairman of the League of Nations Union, Murray was never far from international politics; as Hellenist, he was never far from Euripides. In keeping with the scope of the present volume, then, I would like to discuss the treatment of, and potential relationship between, war, peace, and internationalism in Murray's Trojan Women--its interpretation, performance, and translation. How might Murray's optimism contend with a play about prisoners of war, with the sordid death of Astyanax, infant son of the dead Trojan hero Hector, hurled from the walls of Troy by the Greeks? If the Kingdom of Heaven belongs in the soul, which earthly institutions best promote its establishment? The Church of England? The League of Nations Union? The Classical Association? In Murray's hands, Trojan Women may well offer an answer of sorts: it undertakes an autopsy of war, induces pity, and performs a metapoetic interrogation of tragic poetry; above all, it brings Liberal secular humanism to the stage.
II. Pacifist Performance
Let us first consider the specter--spectacle?--of war. The play certainly lends itself to antiwar readings, (7) with Murray's translation in particular becoming a pacifist touchstone. Murray was the first scholar to associate Trojan Women with the poet's supposed revulsion for the sack of Melos; this became the standard antiwar interpretation, and Trojan Women has since been dubbed "the greatest anti-war literature there is in the world." (8)
There are objections to this reading: (9) the chorus celebrates Athens, the timescale between Melos and the first performance is tight, sympathy for victims does not necessitate distaste for victors, pacifism is a twentieth-century notion, (10) and war itself presents an opportunity for virtue. According to Goff, "The 'Melos interpretation' ... is thus compelling but questionable.... But it is hard to imagine that Trojan Women was not produced as part of a response to the historical Peloponnesian War and the toll it exacted in terms of political discourse as well as of lives and livelihoods." (11) Likewise, Murray himself disallows direct analogy between Troy and Melos while staking a claim for verse drama as emotional response to historical events. "Not, of course, that we have in the Troiides a case of political allusion.... But [Euripides] writes under the influence of a year which to him, as to Thucydides, had been filled full of indignant pity and of dire foreboding" (6-7, my emphasis). Born from "rebel passion" "indignant pity" and of "dire foreboding" Trojan Women offers a response to wartime suffering, perhaps--as N. T. Croally argues--to tragedy itself. (12)
Murray also responds to contemporary geopolitics: "indignant pity" exemplifies the Liberal reaction to the Boer War (on which see Van Zyl Smit, in this volume). As he later observed, his 1901 antinationalist essay "National Ideals: Conscious and Unconscious" expressed "the feelings of the Liberal minority during the Boer War." (13) Compare the Trojan Women introduction: "Athens, now entirely in the hands of the War Party, had been engaged in an enterprise which, though on military grounds defensible, was bitterly resented by the more humane minority" (4). Note the concession "on military grounds defensible." Murray was one of the--mostly Liberal--sponsors of the South Africa Conciliation Committee (very much distinct from the extreme radical Stop the War Committee), (14) which campained for a "just peace." (15)
Nevertheless, one is still tempted to assume that Liberalism demands interbellum pacifism. (16) Murray, however, eventually eschewed dyed-in-the-wool pacifism for the just war, that is, for reasoned, compassionate military intervention through international cooperation. After hearing the foreign secretary, Edward Grey, speak on 3 August 1914, Murray--the erstwhile peacenik--became the foremost Liberal supporter of British involvement in the war. (17) He published two pamphlets (How Can War Ever Be Right? and Thoughts on the War) (18) and produced The Foreign Policy of Sir Edward Grey, 1906-1915, (19) a lengthy response to radical critiques of the war effort.
Endearing as they are, Murray's war pieces tend to recycle certain tropes: peace requires internationalism; war is bad; just war is not so bad; war engenders and displays human virtue, even beauty; human nature inspires optimism. Suggesting a permanent council, Thoughts on the War reveals Murray's then-nascent internationalism, later summed up in a 1918 pamphlet, The League of Nations and the Democratic Idea: "The principle that will solve the problem of war is not Democracy but Internationalism." (20) In a 1918 lecture on "Aristophanes and the War Party," Murray expressly--and optimistically--contrasted the Peloponnesian War with the First World War. (21) Crucially, Murray could well accept the need for occasional force. (22) Item 2(d) in the "Objects" of the League of Nations Union insists on "Consideration of the necessary means for enforcing international order." (23)
Regardless, one cannot ignore the value of Murray's Trojan Women as plain-speaking pacifist propaganda. In 1915, the Women's Peace Party sponsored a tour of Murray's Trojan Women (on which see Davis and Slater, in this volume). The pacifist tenor of this production forced Murray to explain that it was unrelated to the present war. In a draft "Note by the Translator" for the USA tour, he reminds audiences that Germany is not Greece:
While I am heart and soul with the Woman's [sic] Peace Party in their abomination of War and Militarism and their pursuit of Peace, and while I feel the continuance of the present war a daily and nightly horror, taking the ease and joy out of life, I do not wish my co-operation in this National Tour to be interpreted as meaning that I am in favour of making peace with Germany on whatever terms the German Government may propose. To "crush Germany" is fortunately a sheer impossibility, deliberately to "hate Germany" is a sin against civilization. But I believe that in order to secure the rule of Peace and Public Right in Europe certain safeguards must be obtained and certain reparations must be made. (24)
Leonard Hobhouse (1864-1929), sociologist and Liberal politician, refused to see the first (1905) production at the Court Theatre in London because it "revived troubles that lie too near," viz., South African concentration camps. (25) Others called it "monotonously painful" and even "penitential." (26)
After the First World War, however, the play held more appeal, and Murray, too, was more willing to associate himself and his translation with the peace movement. A 1919 production of Trojan Women in support of the League of Nations Union, staged in Oxford for a "No More War" conference before transferring to London, combined his interests in Hellenism, theater, and Liberal internationalism. (27) Sybil Thorndike remembers, "Whatever may have been the standard of production it caught the mood of the after-war emotion of the time and made quite a sensation. The passionate heart-cry of the great tragedy and deeply moving music of Murray's verse seemed to say something that everyone wanted to say." (28) Note the emphasis on emotion and music: the production concentrated on a harmonious marriage of musical chant and emotional rhetoric, (29) that is, on (re)presenting Greek tragedy as emotionally charged music theater. Regarding the London shows, Murray wanted Euripides to be a music-hall success. (30) This was to be live--living--theater. Indeed, Thorndike recalls being told by some Cockney women who saw the Old Vic production, "we all 'ad a good cry ... you see them Trojans was just like us, we've lost our boys in this--war, 'aren't we, so no wonder we was all cryin'--that was a real play, that was, dearie." Murray considered this "another score for Euripides"; (31) he intended Trojan Women to be experienced as felt grief, not abstracted ideological discourse.
Thorndike offers one final example, from a London performance celebrating the formation of the League of Nations Union (with Murray as inaugural chairman):
The performance itself was one of the most moving I can remember. Audience and actors alike were caught up and united in spirit and intention performing a great religious rite. All the misery and awfulness of the 1914 war was symbolized in that play and we all felt here was the beginning of a new era of peace and brotherhood between nations (alas! the nations fell a long way from that inspiration and ideal some years later). There were shouts and cries at the end for 'Author' louder than I had ever heard, and Gilbert Murray rose and said "The author is not here, he has been dead for many centuries, but I am sure he will be gratified by your reception of his great tragedy" (32)
This Trojan Women, then, is subject to paradox. The Liberal wants peace, but reasonable peace. The interpreter retreats from allegory, but the translator-producer benefits from it, for the antiwar interpretation brought Murray's play success. "It took the Boer War, and Gilbert Murray's idiosyncratic reading of Euripides, to make the Trojan Women socially resonant." (33)
III. Pacifist Translation
So much for the production. What of the text? James Morwood, for one, is unequivocal: "The horror of war, the nightmare of that great British invention, the concentration camp, and the plight of captives and refugees at all times and everywhere merge to form a kind of ground-bass that adds depth and resonance to Murray's text." (34) This is an assertion worth testing, for Murray's own introduction not only rouses memories of the recent conflict, but also suggests that we read Trojan Women as a nuanced autopsy of war itself.
Murray introduces pointed vocabulary: the 'swollen Aegean' (ll.82-83) is a "war of waves" (16); the Trojans not only 'lived on" (l. 393), but "fought on" (31). 'Peace' is an especially loaded term, and the archaizing imperative "Peace!" (instead of 'Calm down!' vel sim.) takes on new meaning in a Liberal Trojan Women. Examples abound, such as at line 737 ('keep silent and bear your fate well'): "Ah, peace! And bear as best thou may, / War's fortune" (48). In a telling instance, Murray renders tyche ('chance, fate, fortune') as "peace": instead of having 'missed out o good fortune (1. 644), Andromache is "fallen from peace" (43). (35)
He likewise presents war as unmitigated waste, rendering 'unchosen Trojan women' (l. 32) as "the waste of war" (12) and describing a siege as "work[ing] this land's undoing" (12). Menelaus ('sacker of Troy', 1. 213) "wasted Troy with war" (22). Moreover, Murray adds a rhetorical question to lines 375-76, underscoring his most poetic evocation of war with a pointed 'Why?': "So the days waned, and armies on the shore / Of Simois stood and strove and died. Wherefore?" (31). The second choral ode makes some pointed juxtapositions at the transition between stanzas: "As a sword and as fire / In vain, all in vain" (52); "war / O Love, ancient Love" (53). Sword and fire are in vain; war is not love.
Some passages imply a pacifist-internationalist reading. At line 400, Cassandra utters what may seem the key pacifist credo in Trojan Women: 'Whoever has any sense should avoid war: In Murray's rendering, this is a specifically international matter: "Would ye be wise, ye Cities, fly from war!" (32). Likewise, compare Poseidon's generalization about city-sackers (ll. 95-97): 'It is a foolish mortal who sacks cities but himself dies later, after giving over temples and tombs--holy places of the dead--to desolation.' Murray frames this as a poeticized imprecation, replete with heightened language:
How are ye blind, Ye treaders down of cities, ye that cast Temples to desolation, and lay waste Tombs, the untrodden sanctuaries where lie The ancient dead; yourselves so soon to die! (16)
Note the moral stance (judging spiritual blindness), the express warning, the second-person address, and the certainty of punishment. This is a direct warning against military invasion. (36)
On the other hand, Murray distinguishes between good and bad defeat, translating lines 401-2, "there is a crown in death / For her that striveth well and perisheth / Unstained: to die in evil were the stain!" (32). Euripides mentions no such "evil ... stain," (37) and one thinks again of the British, letting Afrikaners die after striving well. It would seem that there is some confusion between the pacifist tout court and the pragmatic optimist.
IV. Rebel Passion
Quite apart from any antiwar sentiment, however, this text affords an exercise in compassion, for the Boers as for the Trojans. Murray and his wife donated 100 [pounds sterling]--a not insignificant sum in 1901--to the Boer Women and Children's Clothing Fund. (38) More generally, Murray s oeuvre promotes compassion as the cardinal human(ist) virtue. "It is then an ideal held, and largely acted upon, by many people, to keep looking out always for extreme cases of human suffering and to spend their lives in alleviating them. It is perhaps the noblest, perhaps also the most fruitful, ideal now acting in public life." (39) In fact, humanitas is--despite its etymology--to be a divine spiritual principle:
The humanity of man is an immense spirit.... Deus est mortali iuvare mortalem: "God is the helping of man by man"; or should we rather translate it: "The spirit of mutual help among all mortal beings is the true object of worship?" ... a perfectly real spirit of goodness, which runs in some degree through all life, but finds its highest expression in the best men, the spirit that we can only call Humanitas, Humanity. (40)
Taking that line further, Murray's 1940 book on Aeschylus reified--and capitalized--"Pity" as a dispassionate, impersonal, cosmic principle, "a sort of world force." (41) Even in 1918, Murray claimed, "We cease even to suffer as we should suffer, or to pity as we should pity.... We tend to shrink from the higher emotions because they are difficult." (42) Such esoteric, idealized accounts of pity--and suffering--as an instinctual "higher emotion" or a "world force" sound a strangely anti-radical tone; Murray's radical tendencies only stretch so far. (43)
Murray makes much of gentleness. For example, in The Rise of the Greek Epic: "Sophrosyne ... is something like Temperance, Gentleness, Mercy; sometimes Innocence, never mere Caution: a tempering of dominant emotions by gentler thought." (44) In fact, gentleness--saphrosyne--reappears in a passage from Five Stages of Greek Religion that Fowler calls "the clearest statement of Murray's own creed": (45)
[W]e must use as best we can those fainter powers of apprehension and surmise and sensitiveness ... remembering above all to walk gently in a world where the lights are dim and the very stars wander. (46)
In turn, Murray makes of Trojan Women a Hellenist's manifesto imbued with 'gentle' humanitas. "This tragedy is perhaps, in European literature, the first great expression of the spirit of pity for mankind exalted into a moving principle" (7). He translates tropon ('ways, charm, behaviour; 1. 700) as "gentle piety" (45). 'Fortunate' Athens (1. 209) is "the gentle land" (22). Andromache ironically addresses her captors as "ye gentle Greeks!" (49). (47) Invaders' corpses miss the "gentle" arms of those who would provide a shroud, and defenders' corpses are "gentle dead" (31). (48) Gentleness thus involves a proper response to death. Similarly, Talthybius exhorts Hecuba to meekness: "And bear as best thou may, / War's fortune. So thou shalt not go thy way / Leaving this child unburied; nor the Greek / Be stern against thee, if thy heart be meek!" (48). (49) Such is the captors' Beatitude, with meekness a human(ist) virtue not so far from gentleness. (50)
Athens sets the standard, a "gentle land" where "good spirits dwell" (22). (51) Murray's chorus describes it in phraseology reminiscent of the City of God or the Sermon on the Mount: "a city / Beloved, a City of Light" (51). (52) The note on this passage marks Athens as a center of humanism, despite its wartime conduct: "The poet, in the midst of his bitterness over the present conduct of his city, clings the more to its old fame for humanity" (83). (Compare British humanitas and British conduct in the Transvaal.) One cannot help wondering quite which imperial power is meant when Hecuba implores Menelaus, "Be true, O King; let Hellas bear her crown / Of Justice" (61). (53)
Murray also emphasizes the value of human existence in and of itself, translating line 1172 as "thy soul / No knowledge had nor usage of the whole / Rich life that lapt thee round" (68). (54) He claimed elsewhere, "The man or woman who is sophron walks among the beauties and perils of the world, feeling the love, joy, anger, and the rest.... It is then in this light that I wish to consider certain parts of Greek poetry: as embodying the spirit of progress, that is, of both feeling the value and wonder of life and being desirous to make it a better thing." (55) Humanism, gentleness, sophrosyne values life's highs and lows; "progressive" Greek poetry embodies that value, as does Murray's oddly optimistic Trojan Women.
Despite such indications of relativism, Murray dramatizes a Good/Evil dualism according to which he who is sophron wishes to "make [the world] a better thing." (56) First, he capitalizes Love and Hate as mutually exclusive elemental forces. Agamemnon "cast out Love that Hate might feed" (30). (57) Second, imported moral vocabulary presents evil as the antithesis of goodness into which goodness might degenerate: "many fates / Of wrong" (12) for 'many things' (1. 38); "iron against the wrong" (61) for 'brave in the face of the enemy' (1. 1035); "on thy head / His good is turned to evil" (48) for 'Your father's greatness was no good to you' (1. 744). (58) Finally, consider Hecuba's denunciation of Odysseus (ll. 279-91), rendered as a humanist tirade:
Beat, beat the crownless head: Rend the cheek till the tears run red! A lying man and a pitiless Shall be lord of me, a heart full-flown With scorn of righteousness: O heart of a beast where law is none, Where all things change so that lust be fed, The oath and the deed, the right and the wrong, Even the hate of the forked tongue: Even the hate turns and is cold, False as the love that was false of old! (26)
This effectively outlines a binary ideological manifesto: hate = injustice = lawlessness = falsehood; love = justice = law = truth. Indeed, Murray's Trojan Women as a whole presents a simplified, binary moral: love and hate cause good and evil. Yet this text is also, somehow, relativistic, praising the "whole rich life" (68). Peace, it seems, reigns only when we experience compassion through--not despite--the vicissitudes of life.
V. "Move to the Tune of Tears"
"I have all mylife been an advocate of Peace," claims Murray at the opening of How Can War Ever Be Right? "I hate war, not merely for its own cruelty and folly, but because it is the enemy of all the causes that I care for most." What is more, he cites Trojan Women as proof of an undying, heartfelt love for peace. "If I may speak more personally, there is none of my own work into which I have put more intense feeling than into my translation of Euripides' "Trojan Women" the first great denunciation of war in European literature." (59) On the other hand, war engenders "a strange deep gladness"; quoting a Russian correspondent, Murray asserts, "The wounded all want to get well and return to the fight. They fight with tears of joy in their eyes" (60)
With such passages in mind, Shanyn Fiske argues that Murray developed what I would call an aesthetics of suffering, focused on Trojan Women. (61) Although Murray hates war, it brings him intense feeling--similar, perhaps, to the soldier's tears of joy. Tellingly, he manipulates the ambiguity of the word tragedy (= tragoidia). "War is not all evil. It is a true tragedy, which must have nobleness and triumph in it as well as disaster." (62) Indeed, Murray concludes the pamphlet as follows: "In war ordinary men find it [happiness]. This is the inward triumph which lies at the heart of the great tragedy." (63) Which is the great tragedy? The First World War? Trojan Women? Perhaps war is both tragedy and tragoidia, specter and spectacle. In that respect, at least, I find Fiske's reading attractive: in Trojan Women, Murray discovers a connection between aesthetic pleasure and military conflict. And if so, the "inward triumph" at the heart of Trojan Women is that ordinary men find happiness in war. At any rate, we find ourselves quite some way from the "Melos interpretation."
Murray only partially conceals his statement of intent for Trojan Women in the notes: Hecuba "expresses the inmost theme of the whole play, a search for an answer to the injustice of suffering in the very splendour and beauty of suffering" (94). If the overriding (and paradoxical) concern here is to derive some answer--some benefit--from suffering, the question yet remains: what sort of benefit? Didactic? Emotional? Consolatory? Murray himself encourages interpreters, spectators, and readers to admire noble suffering. "The living drama for Euripides lay in the conquered women"; the female characters are "clearly lit and heroic" (5). Cassandra laments Hector, a fallen, defeated, Trojan (enemy) soldier, with the invented phrase, "how true a heart he bore" (31).
For Fiske, there is aesthetic benefit on offer, which implies a metapoetic reading on Murray's part. Indeed, this expansive translation particularly emphasizes lament, pathos, and the suffering human spirit: "Polyxena the brave, / Lies bleeding" (12) for 'Polyxena has died wretchedly' (1. 40); (64) Hecuba "weeping alone for her dead" (18); "The last dead deep of misery" (51) for 'complete destruction" (1. 798). The drama, remember, "lay in the conquered women." Of extant Greek plays, only Trojan Women and Hecuba center on POW camps; only Trojan Women features an infant captive's corpse. (65) The Kingdom of Heaven thus requires an emotional response that makes sense of suffering via the sublime. (66) To be precise, Murray's Trojan Women does so via musical verse. As Taplin suggests, "It might be argued that one of the fundamental ways in which tragedy gives some meaning to human suffering (or, if you insist, seems to give some meaning to suffering) is by turning it into poetry and music." (67) This neatly encapsulates Trojan Women, which Murray claims is "only the crying of one of the great wrongs of the world wrought into music ... made beautiful by 'the most tragic of the poets'" (7).
This Trojan Women, then, offers a metapoetic reading of tragic poetry, not so much to interrogate its discursive function as to instantiate its affirmatory function. (68) With respect to Trojan Women, Murray claims, "The elements of beauty which exist in any great trial of the spirit ... overpower the evil that created them ... turn it from shame and misery into tragedy" (94). This is to be an exercise in--and an examination of--poetry turning evil into tragedy. So Hecuba: "All with changeful pain / My body rocketh, and would fain / Move to the tune of tears that flow: / For tears are music too, and keep / A song unheard in hearts that weep" (17).
Murray in fact introduces metapoetic phraseology, treating grief as a musical performance of secret memories: "Yet there is something that doth seek, / Crying, for God, when one of us hath woe. / O, I will think of things gone long ago / And weave them to a song, like one more tear / In the heart of misery" (35). (69) Andromache exclaims, "Sing sorrow" and "Sing for the Great City" (40), with no such reference in the Greek. Even war sounds its tune: Murray translates 'spear' (1. 839) as "the wailing of war" (53). Finally, grief is didactic: "Nor all thy griefs have changed them yet, nor learned / Wisdom" (29). (70)
I offer one final passage, lines 604-7. Murray introduces the twinned tropes of memory and music, putting in Hecuba's mouth a poetic evocation of tragedy's power to be a 'tune of tears':
Even as the sound of a song Left by the way, but long Remembered, a tune of tears Falling where no man hears, In the old house, as rain, For things loved of yore: But the dead hath lost his pain And weeps no more. (41)
Croally claims that Trojan Women treats the aftermath of war as a setting for questioning Athenian ideology. (71) Along similar lines, Casey Due argues that the emotional effects of Trojan lament invite the audience of Trojan Women to explore their own suffering through others'. (72) The play is thus a challenge rather than a protest. For Shirley Barlow, Greek tragedy deals with basic, large-scale emotions, and Trojan Women in particular deals with ordinary emotional reactions--albeit writ large--to suffering. (73) And so despite the simplistic ideological use to which Murray's translation was put, his reading is not far off contemporary scholarly opinion: tragedy commemorates the past; alleviates survivors' pain (and survivor's guilt); and seeks pleasure in noble suffering, exploring notions of self and other without criticizing Athenian policy or approving of war. What Murray brings, qua man of the theater, is a sensitivity to tragedy, and tragic lament, as performed musical theater. In a telling note, he describes lines 799-859, as follows:
A striking instance of the artistic value of the Greek chorus in relieving an intolerable strain. The relief provided is something much higher than what we ordinarily call "relief"; it is a stream of pure poetry and music in key with the sadness of the surrounding scene, yet, in a way happy just because it is beautiful. (89)
Gilbert Murray was first and foremost a Hellenist. (74) Moreover, the "practical" side of his binary Hellenism never outgrew its esoteric counterpart. (75) He tended to disapprove of revolution per se, and his nostalgic, anachronistic, "aristocratic Liberalism" could not survive two world wars: (76) it harked back to a lost Arcadia of Hellenism where men were men, where the dispossessed welcomed handouts with open arms and tipped caps. What is more, he found in Euripides--a playwright previously maligned by legions of critics and famously reduced by the English classicist Arthur Verrall (1851-1912) to a dramaturgical fakir (77)--a worthy ally. Murray writes, Euripides' "general spirit is clear: it is a spirit of liberation, of moral revolt, of much denial; but it is also a spirit of search and wonder and surmise. He was not in any sense a 'mere' rationalist"; Murray is quoted as claiming, "I almost feel that he [Euripides] expresses my own feelings and beliefs: rational, liberal, humane, feminist." (78) Yet Euripides is also a conservator of cultural--classical--memory, who "brings things under the great magic of ... something that we can think of as eternity or the universal or perhaps even as Memory." (79) Murray's Hellenism--and his Euripides--is progressive and retrospective, radical and conservative. Murray claims, "In the end, perhaps, this two-sidedness remains as the cardinal fact about Euripides: he is a merciless realist; he is the greatest master of imaginative music ever born in Attica." (80)
Crucially, these two sides of Euripides appeal, respectively, to the practical and esoteric sides of Murray's Hellenism. And between them, this binary Hellenism and bipolar Euripides control and direct his Trojan Women. This play, more than any other, dramatizes Liberal-humanist, practical-esoteric Hellenism--"rebel passion" and the "Kingdom of Heaven within us"--as a radical-conservative 'tune of tears,' finding pity, and beauty, in human suffering. The Kingdom of Heaven resides in the soul and on earth; peace is a matter for the human heart and the League of Nations; tragedy reassures and disturbs. On that note, I shall allow Professor Murray the last word:
The powers of evil and horror must be granted their full scope; it is only thus that we can triumph over them. Only when they have worked their uttermost will do we realize that there remains something in man's soul which is forever beyond their grasp and has power in its own right to make life beautiful. That is the great revelation, or the great illusion, of tragedy. (81)
Victoria University of Wellington
(1) Euripides, The Trojan Women, trans. Gilbert Murray (London: Allen & Unwin, 1905), 5. This translation and others are collected in full facsimile in Gilbert Murray's Euripides: "The Trojan Women" and Other Plays (Exeter: Bristol Phoenix, 2005). Quotations from Murray's Trojan Women, set in double quotation marks, are henceforth followed in the text by references to page numbers from the 1905 edition. My own translations, in single quotation marks, are followed by references to line numbers from Murray's edition of the Greek text, Euripides Fabulae II, 2st ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1904). Readers might also consult David Kovacs's bilingual Loeb edition, with line numbers, Euripides IV (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999).
(2) James Morwood, "Gilbert Murray's Translations of Greek Tragedy," in Gilbert Murray Reassessed: Hellenism, Theatre, and International Politics, ed. Christopher Stray (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 133-44 (138): Murray's introductions mediated the homogeneous nature of his translations. Patricia E. Easterling, "Gilbert Murray's Reading of Euripides," Colby Quarterly 33 (1997): 113-27, discusses the relationship between Murray's translations and his interpretation of Euripides.
(3) Arnold Toynbee, "The Unity of Gilbert Murray's Life and Work," in Gilbert Murray: An Unfinished Autobiography, ed. Jean Smith and Arnold Toynbee (London: Allen & Unwin, 1960), 212-20 (215). Murray asserts that Liberals and Conservatives hold similar ideals: see his "National Ideals: Conscious and Unconscious," in Gilbert Murray, Essays and Addresses (London: Allen & Unwin, 1921), 160-82 (171-73).
(4) See Conrad Russell, An Intelligent Person's Guide to Liberalism (London: Duckworth, 1999).
(5) Gilbert Murray, "The Bacchae in Relation to Certain Currents of Thought in the Fifth Century" in Essays and Addresses, 56-87 (85). This introduction to Bacchae appeared originally in Murray's first volume of translations, The Athenian Drama, ed. George C. W Warr, 3 vols. (London: G. Allen, 1902), 77-154.
(6) Plato, Apology of Socrates, 38a5-6, in E. A. Duke et al., eds., Platonis Opera, vol. 1, Tetralogia I-II continens (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 58.
(7) Barbara Goff, Euripides: "Trojan Women" (London: Duckworth, 2009), 29-35.
(8) Edith Hamilton, Euripides: "Trojan Women" (New York: Bantam, 1971), 1, quoted in Goff, 32. Cf. Edith Hall and Fiona Macintosh, Greek Tragedy and the British Theatre, 1660-1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 510-11; Duncan Wilson, Gilbert Murray OM, 1866-1957 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 201-2. According to James Morwood, in his introduction to Gilbert Murray's Euripides, "even in the unlikely event that someone discovers that others had made the connection before Murray, the strong probability will remain that he was the first to make something significant out of it" (xvi).
(9) See A. Maria van Erp Taalman Kip, "Euripides and Melos," Mnemosyne 40 (1987): 414-19; Peter Green, "War and Morality in Fifth-Century Athens: The Case of Euripides' Trojan Women," Ancient History Bulletin 13 (1999): 97-110.
(10) Martin Ceadel, Semi-Detached Idealists: The British Peace Movement and International Relations, 1854-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 158-59, discusses the term pacifism. In French, pacifisme appeared in 1901; a 1914 Concise Oxford Dictionary supplement included "pacifism."
(11) Goff, 33.
(12) N. T. Croally, Euripidean Polemic: "The Trojan Women" and the Function of Tragedy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
(13) Murray, preface to Essays and Addresses, 7-8 (8).
(14) Wilson, 73-74, which cites Stephen Koss, The Pro-Boers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973), 81-85; Ceadel, Semi-Detached Idealists, 154-55.
(15) Ceadel, Semi-Detached Idealists, 154.
(16) For example, Toynbee, 212, writes that Murray's "work for peace was an expression of his life-long liberalism."
(17) Ceadel, Semi-Detached Idealists, 219. Cf. Wilson, 217-21.
(18) Martin Ceadel, "Gilbert Murray and International Politics," in Gilbert Murray Reassessed, 217-37 (224), claims that both appeared in the Oxford University Press Oxford Pamphlets series of 1914. Wilson, 220, refers only to How Can War Ever Be Right? as an "Oxford Pamphlet."
(19) Gilbert Murray, The Foreign Policy of Sir Edward Grey, 1906-1915 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1915).
(20) Gilbert Murray, The League of Nations and the Democratic Idea (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1918), 28, quoted in Ceadel, "Gilbert Murray and International Politics," 229. In "National Ideals," 181, Murray encourages "the co-operation of nations for mutual help, in the ultimate Fraternity of Mankind." In his preface to Essays and Addresses, 8, he claimed that this essay reads "almost like a conscious argument for the foundation of a League of Nations."
(21) Gilbert Murray, "Aristophanes and the War Party," in Essays and Addresses, 31-55, delivered 7 November 1918 as the Creighton Lecture at the London School of Economics.
(22) Ceadel, Semi-Detached Idealists, 239-80; Ceadel, "Gilbert Murray and International Politics," 233-34.
(23) League of Nations Journal, August 1919, 301.
(24) Quoted in Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson, "The Theatre and Gilbert Murray," in Gilbert Murray: An Unfinished Autobiography, 149-75 (163 n. 1).
(25) Letter from Hobhouse to Murray, in Wilson, 106.
(26) Examples can be found in Hall and Macintosh, 509.
(27) Ceadel, "Gilbert Murray and International Politics," 231. Cf. Thorndike and Casson, 163-65. Wilson, 298, writes, "Murray in his 70th birthday speech described how it was interpreted as antiwar and pro-League propaganda." Cf. Avery Willis, "Euripides' Trojan Women: A 20th-Century War Play in Performance" (PhD diss., Oxford University, 2005), 65-73; Amanda Wrigley, Performing Greek Drama in Oxford and on Tour with the Balliol Players (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2011), 104-5.
(28) Thorndike and Casson, 164.
(30) Ibid., 165.
(31) Ibid., 164.
(32) Ibid., 166.
(33) Hall and Macintosh, 510. Isobel Henderson, "The Teacher of Greek," in Gilbert Murray: An Unfinished Autobriography, 125-48 (139), is more effusive: "Both scholars and producers had told him that the Troades would never come off on the stage; he insisted that it would, and the result of his work was a revolution in the taste of England."
(34) Morwood, "Gilbert Murray's Translations," 138.
(35) See also 20, 32, 48, and 62 (twice!).
(36) I quote Kovacs's note in Euripides IV, 25: "The Greeks are foolish not for sacking cities ... but for alienating their divine ally [Athena] 2 Cf. Kovacs, "Euripides, Troades 95-7: Is Sacking Cities Really Foolish?," Classical Quarterly 33 (1983): 334-38.
(37) At ll. 401-2, dying 'well' (kalos) brings a crown of honor; dying 'badly' (too kalos) brings a crown of ill repute. The adverb kalos ('well') derives from the adjective kalos ('good, beautiful, attractive').
(38) Wilson, 74; Hall and Macintosh, 508-10.
(39) Murray, "National Ideals," 176.
(40) Gilbert Murray, "What Is Permanent in Positivism," in Stoic, Christian and Humanist (Lon don: Allen & Unwin, 1940), 151-89 (185-86), quoting Comte quoting Pliny, Natural History, 2.7.18.
(41) Gilbert Murray, Aeschylus: The Creator of Tragedy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940), 196.
(42) Gilbert Murray, "The Soul as It Is, and How to Deal with It," in Essays and Addresses, 14259(159).
(43) "The Soul as It Is," however, also pays tribute to Gandhi and to Stephen Hobhouse, a conscientious objector.
(44) Gilbert Murray, The Rise of the Greek Epic, 4th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934), 26.
(45) Robert L. Fowler, "Four (Five) Stages of Greek Religion," in The Cambridge Ritualists Reconsidered, ed. William M. Calder (Atlanta: Scholars, 1991), 79-95 (81). Wilson, 409, calls this "the most moving profession of [Murray's] faith"
(46) Gilbert Murray, Five Stages of Greek Religion (London: Watts, 1953), 171.
(47) 'O you Greek inventors of barbarian evils' (1. 764). According to Morwood, in his introduction to Gilbert Murray's Euripides, xvi, Murray's "Boer subtext" is "rammed home by his addition of the word 'gentle.'" Hall and Macintosh, 509-10, write that this line may have inspired Henry Campbell-Bannerman's "methods of barbarism" speech.
(48) Lines 376, 388.
(49) 'If you keep quiet and bear your fate well, you won't leave this child's corpse unburied, and you will find the Achaeans more amenable' (ll. 737-39).
(50) "Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth": Matthew 5:5 (AV).
(51) '[T]he sacred, holy city of Theseus' (ll. 220-21).
(52) '[B]rilliant Athens' (1. 803).
(53) '[C]rown Hellas in full measure' (1. 1030).
(54) 'You do not know; you experienced nothing [of life]' (1. 1172).
(55) Murray, The Rise of the Greek Epic, 26.
(56) Murray finds such dualism in war itself, in "The Evil and the Good of War," in Faith, War, and Policy: Addresses and Essays on the European War (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1917), 77-92.
(57) '[D]estroyed what was most dear for the sake of what was most hated' (ll. 370-71). At line 426, Murray introduces hate: "the hate / Of kings and peoples" (33) for 'attendants to tyrants and cities"
(58) Lines 38, 1035, 744.
(59) Gilbert Murray, How Can War Ever Be Right? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1914), reprinted in Murray, Faith, War, and Policy, 20-45 (20). Cf. Ceadel, "Gilbert Murray and International Politics," 224.
(60) Murray, How Can War Ever Be Right?, 44.
(61) Shanyn Fiske, Heretical Hellenism: Women Writers, Ancient Greece, and the Victorian Popular Imagination (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2008), 192-96.
(62) Murray, How Can War Ever Be Right?, 41.
(63) Ibid., 45.
(64) Murray translates tlemonos ('patiently; 'wretchedly') as "brave."
(65) Hall and Macintosh, 510.
(66) Cf. Goff, 35, on the redemptive optimism of Murray's Trojan Women.
(67) Oliver Taplin, "The Harrison Version: 'So long ago that it's become a song?'" in Fiona Macintosh et al., eds., "Agamemnon" in Performance, 458 BC to AD 2004 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 235-51 (251).
(68) William A. Allan, ed., Euripides: "Helen" (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 4-9, argues that tragedy is a popular, affirmatory art form.
(69) 'I want first to sing out my blessings. That will make my troubles more pitiable' (ll. 472-73).
(70) 'You are not come to your senses through your experiences' (ll. 349-50).
(71) Croally, 258.
(72) Casey Due, The Captive Woman's Lament in Greek Tragedy (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006), 136-50.
(73) Shirley A. Barlow, ed., Euripides: "Trojan Women" (Warminster, UK: Aris & Phillips, 1986), 26-35.
(74) See, for example, "Religio Grammatici: The Religion of a 'Man of Letters," in Essays and Addresses, 11-30; Toynbee; Julia Stapleton, "The Classicist as Liberal Intellectual: Gilbert Murray and Alfred Eckhard Zimmern,' in Gilbert Murray Reassessed, 261-91; Ceadel, "Gilbert Murray and International Politics," 217-19. Murray's second (!) seventieth-birthday Festschrift was titled Greek Poetry and Life (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936).
(75) Murray, "National Ideals," 173.
(76) According to Fiske, 189, the First World War "had a damaging and irreversible impact on the Hellenism that had shaped nineteenth-century thoughts and values" Wilson, 215-16, describes changes in Murray's idealism before 1914.
(77) For example, A. W. Verrall, "The Bacchants of Euripides," in "The Bacchants of Euripides" and Other Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910), 1-160.
(78) Gilbert Murray, Euripides and His Age (New York: Holt, 1913), 190; Francis West, Gilbert Murray: A Life (London: Croom Helm, 1984), 69.
(79) Murray, Euripides and His Age, 243. Consider also Murray's "Ritualist" model of tragedy re-enacting the universal myth of the "Year-Daemon," as in the "Excursus on the Ritual Forms Preserved in Greek Tragedy," which he contributed to Jane Harrison, Themis: A Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1912), 341-63. Cf. Robert Ackerman, "The Cambridge Group: Origins and Composition," in The Cambridge Ritualists Reconsidered, 1-19; Mark Griffith, "Gilbert Murray on Greek Literature: The Great/Greek Man's Burden" in Gilbert Murray Reassessed, 51-80 (71-79); Robert Parker, "Gilbert Murray and Greek Religion," ibid., 81-102 (96-102).
(80) Gilbert Murray, A History of Ancient Greek Literature (New York: Appleton, 1916), 273.
(81) Murray, Euripides and His Age, 242.
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|Title Annotation:||theatrical play 'Euripides: The Trojan Women'|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2010|
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