Tuesday, January 26, 2010

© Eso Antons Benjamins, a.k.a. Jaņdžs

76 Climbing Mt. Citheron (IX)

There is yet a thirteenth death in “Tiresias’ Revenge”. It is the death of the Sphinx, the chimera of child sacrifice child sacrifice that has been haunting Thebes.

When fleeing Corinth—in order to escape the prediction that he is about to kill his father and marry his mother—and on his way to Thebes, Oedipus meets and kills his father. Sophocles presents the scene as if it is a fated accident. We are told that King Laius and Oedipus meet on the road, but neither of the parties identify themselves, and both try to push each other off the road. The fight over who has the right of way escalates into a deadly fight. In the melee, the captain of Prince Oedipus’ bodyguard kills Laius, the king of Thebes.

After the “victory”, Oedipus continues his journey until he reaches the temple of the Sphinx. The temple is not far from Thebes. The Sphinx, we are told, is plaguing the city of Thebes. The Sphinx will continue to plague Thebes, that is, demand the city to sacrifice its young for its dinner, until someone is brave enough to come before it and answer its ridiculously simple riddle: Who walks in the morning on four, at noon on two, and in the evening on three legs? The answer is “man”, at least this is the answer that everyone in the last two thousand years plus (according to Scaligeri’s chronology) has accepted as being the right answer.

One may accept the given answer as the correct one. On the other hand, we should not forget that the third leg, which is not a nature made instrument, but an instrument made by man, may be presumed to be other than a cane. After a crawl on all fours and learning to stand upright, the hands may hold more than a stick. This is to say that after learning to walk, one may support himself on a spear, a sword, or a rifle. The instrument need not be associated with the physiological nature of man. It may be an instrument that is typical to a cultural ethos.

In any event, Oedipus and his father do not meet each other by accident as Sophocles misleads us to believe. To the contrary, the meeting has been prearranged by Queen Iocaste, the wife of King Laius and mother of Prince Oedipus. The Queen knows that on a certain morning the King is to go and pick up a wagon full of children he has bought from some traders for sacrifice to the Sphinx. The purchase is in lieu of having to sacrifice the children of Thebes.

The Queen arranges an as if accidental meeting by conspiring with her sister, Queen Merope of Corinth. [The history of the two sisters is discussed in greater detail in “Tiresias’ Revenge” (blog 47)]. The captain of the guard which accompanies Prince Oedipus’ flight from Corinth is informed of King Laius’ upcoming transaction, and is to take advantage of the circumstances and kill the king.

In terms of the story, we need to understand that Prince Oedipus’ journey to the temple is not so much the next episode of the play as it is a continuation of action that began at the crossroad where the exchange of the children for payment took place. In short, the death of King Laius is to be identified with the death of the Sphinx. This identification need not be made by anyone else but Queen Iocaste, because it is she who starts the story of Oedipus by refusing to expose him to the elements on Mt. Citheron, which will put him at risk of becoming a sacrifice to the Gods of Fate. Since the Sphinx has wings, we may imagine that he-she could fly from the temple to Mt. Cytheron and snatch the royal child exposed there and deny him life and the right to become part of the royal retinue. Queen Iocaste has a plan that may outwit the Sphinx.

There is no need here to tell the details of the original plot of Sophocles. What we know is sufficient to understand that Sophocles wrote a riddling play from which a number of essential elements of plot have been removed or have been so abstracted as to make the play a riddle. The most likely reason for creating the riddle is political repression. Since the political repression may be for the purpose of ridding society of self-sacrifice by identifying it with the sacrifice of children, the censure and repressive force can only come from a hierarchical society in which self-sacrifice—from the point of view of its elite—is undesirable. Self-sacrifice is an individualistic act in that it is unpredictable (subject to the subjectivity of the individual) and may cast doubt on the authority of those at the top of the pyramid, especially if those at the top have no intention of doing self-sacrifice themselves. Rather than submit their lives to fate, they rather enjoy the “pleasures of life”, albeit a diminished life in that it asks for itself no more than a leisurely drift to Hades via a river called Yana, G(Y)anges, D(Y)on, D(Y)onava, or D(Y)au(n)gava.

As mentioned in earlier blogs, other than sacrifices made during the violent times of Latvia’s founding, Latvia had two distinct opportunities for self-sacrifice in the twentieth century. One was in 1940, when the President Karlis Ulmanis could have (but did not) self-sacrifice himself in the face of the ultimatum to the nation by the Soviet Union, because Latvia had no chance of winning a fight against the aggressor, except make it a symbolic act. The other was in the years immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union, when the post-Soviet Latvian government was on its way to becoming so corrupted that it was obvious (though not necessarily noticed) to most people outside the government, and one Adolfs Bukhis (1993). The latter attempted to redeem the government’s failure by protesting the direction the government by sacrificing his life. His effort was denied recognition by both the post-Soviet Latvian government and its media.

One may object by saying that the troubles of Thebes have little to do with the troubles of Latvia. As the saying goes: yes and no. In this writer’s opinion, we shouldremember that the story of King Oedipus is

1. not as “ancient” as we are led to believe it to be by the Scaligeri chronology (I am inclined to agree with Anatoly Fomenko’s suggestions as to the reliability of orthodox history);
2. fails to confront the interests of a secular and fundamentally laissez faire prince (government) to repress self-sacrifice;
3. substitutes self-sacrifice with a return of child sacrifice, but in place of children, places young immature men and woman, re soldiers;
4. leaves the elite occupy the summit of the power pyramid, where it never makes a sacrifice, but frequently changes chairs of office among its members to escape coming into focus of the public.

The substitution of self-sacrifice and child sacrifice with “war sacrifice” by modern government confirms that our modern orientation of rule is toward maximum, rather than minimum use of violence and terror as the tool of authority for keeping government in power. This keeps the weak bonds of community weak and under the control of the government. Invariably such power is usurped power. How long will it endure? If once the answer was “not for ever”, today it is “not for long”.

Asterisk & Notes of Interest:
On material depravation in Latvia. 
On the theme of “more-equal-than-others” George Orwell's AnimalFarm.  
A recommended read: “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” by Emmanuel Goldstein (A book within a book from George Orwell's "1984" )  
Of great interest to me is this and like articles. It presents some of my reasons for supporting the growing of Johns Grass in Latvia.
These blogs tend to be a continuum of an idea or thought, which is why—if you are interested in what you read—you are encouraged to consider reading the previous blog and the blog hereafter.
Partial entries of my blogs may be found at LatviansOnline + Forum Home + Open Forum –ONLATVIANPOPULISM vs LATVIJASLABEJIE. If you copy this blog for your files, or copy to forward, or otherwise mention its content, please credit the author and http://esoschroniclnes.blogspot.com/  

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