Of Aliens & Ancient Greece

23 Jan
Electra Receiving the Ashes of Her Brother, Or...

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“For centuries philosophers and theologians have debated what it means to be human. Perhaps the answer has eluded us because it is so simple. To be human is to choose.”The Outer Limits

I wouldn’t normally think of juxtaposing Sophocles with little green men, it just happened to work out that way.  I was reading Electra tonight and reflecting on how little we had changed in so much time, how still relevant his work was, marveling at how much I identified with the characters.  I had to admit too, that it did remind me for just a moment of reading science fiction.  The places and the names, the traditions – all so foreign to me, it could have taken place on an entirely different world.

I was sitting in my parent’s living room at the time, and after my dad went to bed I started reading aloud to myself, because… well I guess there’s still a bit of the drama geek forever inside me.   The TV was still on, tuned to whatever station my father had snored through before he traded his recliner in for his bed.  It wasn’t really bothering me as I was rather engaged in my reading.  But, then the sportscasters came on.  I was now annoyed.  And for some reason instead of turning the thing off, I flipped down a few stations to something less obnoxious.

I stopped on an episode of The Outer Limits, mostly because it was quiet compared to the ranting from the sportscast.  It was halfway through the show, but suddenly I found myself going back and forth between the two, watching the show, (an episode involving alien abduction) when it was on, and switching back to my performance of Electra during the breaks.  (Yes, these really are the sort of things I do, when no one is watching).

I have to say it was a rather odd and giddy experience.  The show, with its oddly compelling aliens weaved through themes of  fear, violence, pain, sacrifice and ultimately what it means to be human while the play tackled many of the same ideas.

“My acts untimely and my words unmeet.
But your hostility and treatment force me
Against my disposition to this course.” – Sophocles, Electra

Both stories culminated with dire choice. Sacrifice.  Untimely deaths.

Aliens. Ancient Greeks.  How very little we have changed, and how very much I wonder if we ever will.

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2 Responses to “Of Aliens & Ancient Greece”

  1. Carl V. January 24, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Interesting that you mention and were considering Greece and science fiction, as that is discussed in Jo Walton’s book Among Others. Her protagonist is interested in the works of Plato and others as well as science fiction and her observations of the two are interesting.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Reading Electra Aloud In The Dark « - January 26, 2011

    […] I found myself reading out loud.  I do this occasionally, with Shakespeare, or other plays or books that I particularly love, but this story seemed to call for it.  And hey, the majority of the time the characters that are speaking are women, so I really didn’t have a hard time pulling off the voices.  But honestly, there is something about reading this play aloud that brings it to another level.  I think often when dealing with the Greek classics, we forget that most of them were designed for performance or oral story-telling.  That’s when they come alive.  For me, this story came alive late at night, and in the dark. […]

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