Wednesday, July 30, 2008

after the fall, friends

You know, more and more I think that for many years I looked at life like a case at law, a series of proofs. When you're young you prove how brave you are, or smart; then, what a good lover; then, a good father; finally, how wise, or powerful or what-the-hell-ever. But underlying it all, I see now, there was a presumption. That I was moving on an upward path toward some elevation where – God knows what – I would be justified, or even condemned – a verdict anyway. I think now that my disaster really began when I looked up one day – and the bench was empty. No judge in sight. And all that remained was an endless argument with oneself – this pointless litigation of existence before an empty bench.

My friend Daniel sends me these words he's read recently from Arthur Miller's After the Fall. And Daniel (who's not alone after two divorces as Miller was when writing) goes on to say (out of his own experiences) that

We all have a basic need to be justified or vindicated in some sense, especially in a relational sense. It gets at the heart of who we are. If I and my friend or my spouse have mutual trust and respect, we are justified to each other. We are right with each other. There may be disagreements and offenses, but we are on the same team and are allies who depend on each other.

To which Pindar says

Hesykhia (Tranquility), goddess of friendly intent, daughter of Dike (Justice), you who make cities great, holding the supreme keys of counsel and of wars
φιλόφρον Ἡσυχία, Δίκας ὦ μεγιστόπολι θύγατερ βουλᾶν τε καὶ πολέμων ἔχοισα κλαῗδας ὑπερτάτας

“Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color. Choosing your socks by their character makes no sense, and choosing your friends by their color is unthinkable.”


Daniel Olson said...

Speaking of Dike, this verse is interesting given that Eirene is Dike's sister.

δικαιωθέντες οὖν ἐκ πίστεως εἰρήνην ἔχομεν

J. K. Gayle said...

Interesting indeed. Thanks for sharing this! Makes you understand a bit why Paul pens in Hellene instead of in Roman Latin. Surely his readers would have understood "Iustitia igitur ex fide Pax habeamus". But Greek ruled the day. (And, as it does with most translators, the punny personal allusions to goddesses gets lost on Jerome, whose Vulgate makes it the serious technical "iustificati igitur ex fide pacem habeamus").

J. K. Gayle said...

And, Daniel, what do you think of Doug's quandary over your text as questionably original?