Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Children of God

Today in Honors class, this guy I'll call J. made an interesting point. Now, J. is a Latin major and has forgotten more about the classics than I'm likely ever to know. He quotes Plato like I quote Douglas Adams. Although both are ancient history, for some inexplicable reason quoting Plato makes one sound more learned. J.'s going to kill the rest of us when we do Plato next week.

But I digress. We were discussing "Alcestis" and J. pointed out the passage where the Boy (son of Alcestis) bewails his mother's death as a cruel stroke of fate, whereas in truth there were a complex series of choices leading up to her death that were beyond the little boy's ken. J. compared this scene to the final passage where Admetus, with his wife brought back from the dead, exclaims over his good luck. The Chorus follows this with:

Many are the forms of what is unknown.
Much that the gods achieve is surprise.
What we look for does not come to pass;
God finds a way for what none foresaw.

God finds a way for what none foresaw. How is it that something written in 438 BC can smack a modern Catholic right between the eyes with its profundity?

The point J. made is that Admetus is like a child compared to the gods. He looks at a circumstance and calls it only luck or blind chance, when in truth there is a purpose behind it all that he cannot see. For all the centuries separating us I don't think we're too unlike Admetus. We do not foresee the way that God will work. At least I know I don't.

You'd think that after 2,500 years we'd start to have a little more faith.

1 comment:

Dernhelm said...

You are rather special yourself, also in a wonderful way! Great insight about Admetus. He is very childlike in many ways; I think I would be really annoyed with him save for that quality. Oh, and good luck on Plato. Are you reading the Republic? My word, I think it could confuse Herodotus...