Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lines of Pain

I found myself only partly agreeing with what was discussed by Professor Maria Frank in concerns of the speeches of Hectors wife as well as her discussion of Dido. For the wife of Hector her concern over her husband's death and the pain she felt because of it can be seen as metaphorical. In the second speech after she sees her husband's body she launches in to a long speech talking about how she left her son and her to the vices of the Greeks. While she may just be discussing the pain of what her son will be going through she is also metaphorically discussing the fall of Troy. Like her husband the city will be left to be devoured by worms after the dogs are done. Her husband's death marks the end of the city and the end of his household. Troy relied upon a monarchy as the sole source of government and power with the loss of Hector its entire basis was ripped away and was left in a state of unrest because Astyanax was too young to take the throne. When she burns his clothes it is symbolic of the future of Troy where all the wealth, everything to remind people of what that city was will be burned and left to ashes by the Greeks.
I do agree with how the wife of Hector challenges the Trojan idea of honor and glory. She has to sacrifice her husband, her son and even her own life because of what the men have classified as badges of honor and proof of glory. Her bitterness is real. She as a woman, a widow, has no hope of finding a way to live without the threat of death if she survives the destruction of Rome. She was the wife of Hector, his prize, and she has the destiny of becoming the victors slave, or worse whore. She will have to live a life where her fall will constantly be thrown in her face and she will have to suffer for the actions of her husband. Her son has no hope of surviving. As the sole male heir he will be killed as soon as the Greeks gain entrance. This pain is real and the bitterness attached to it as well.
So many people look at these epic stories as the source for the definition of what a hero is. They also look to these stories as the best example of glory and honor in battle. These men fill the songs of the warriors people seek to aspire to become. Few people take a moment to really look at what these men left behind and the fate they left their family to suffer. These men aren't really heroes. Instead they are men who fight for no real reason and see their family as nothing more than a token of their prowess. What is there between the lines is the pain that the women and children experienced that are slaves to this idea of honor and glory. They have no choice and their fates entirely rest upon the actions of their "hero". Where is the glory in this?
The story of Dido always frustrates me. She is just as much of a hero as Aeneas, if not greater. Everything Aeneas was trying to achieve she had already done and on her own as a woman. Yet, she is belittled and forced to conform to the male conventions of feminine weakness when in the presence of her man. I think her pain is not entirely based upon the fact that Aeneas will not recognize their marriage, but instead of his inability to recognize that she is worth just as much as him. Her suicide is not that of a broken heart, but that of one who is entirely defeated and sees no recovery. Aeneas took advantage and made her break her vow and her reputation as woman was forever tarnished. She has to suffer the fate of a cheating woman rather than a death of a true hero. She takes her own life because she is left to face her people, her brother, and her enemies knowing that all her great deeds were erased in their minds because of Aeneas's rejection of her.
Saba's poem The Goat really struck a chord with me. It's the first time I have seen in writing a recognition that pain is universal whether it be man or animal. It's a concept that many people forget. Pain is felt by every living thing and there is a recognition of it when witnessed. It also brings to light how people rarely take the time to recognize that their pain isn't singular. There are others hurting around them and others who have hurt before. Pain isn't a one instance occurrence. It cycles through man and animal in endless waves with moments of respite. Out of the entire lecture it is this poem I feel that truly addressed pain in purest form.