By James Franklin Johnson
the power of people to believe compassion or empathy for one another—and exhibit that emotion via providing convenience or assistance—is a huge antidote to violence and aggression. In historical Greece, the epics of Homer and the tragic dramas played each one spring within the Theater of Dionysus provided electorate important classes in regards to the necessity and correct program of compassionate motion. This e-book is the 1st full-length exam of compassion (eleos or oiktos in Greek) as a dramatic subject matter in historical Greek literature.
via cautious textual research, James F. Johnson surveys the remedy of compassion within the epics of Homer, in particular the Iliad, and within the works of the 3 nice Athenian tragedians: Aischylos, Euripides, and Sophokles. He emphasizes reciprocity, reverence, and retribution as defining positive factors of Greek compassion through the Homeric and Archaic classes. In framing his research, Johnson distinguishes compassion from pity. while in English the observe “pity” indicates an angle of superiority towards the patient, the notice “compassion” has a extra confident connotation and implies equality in prestige among topic and item. even if students have conventionally translated eleos and oiktos as “pity,” Johnson argues that our modern day proposal of compassion comes closest to encompassing the that means of these Greek phrases. starting with Homer, eleos normally denotes an emotion that includes motion of a few type, while oiktos often refers back to the emotion itself. Johnson additionally attracts institutions among compassion and the ideas of worry and pity, which Aristotle famously attributed to tragedy.
as the Athenian performs are tragedies, they in general exhibit the disastrous effects of an international the place compassion falls brief. even as, they provide glimpses right into a international the place compassion can generate a extra beneficial—and consequently extra hopeful—outcome. Their message resonates with today’s readers up to it did for fifth-century Athenians.
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