The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #62: Aeschylus

General Introduction
– Flowin’ like a bottle of Drano
– What’s on the blog?
– A listener vastly overestimates us

Who Is Prometheus?
– Deflating Gilmour’s balloon
– Zeus as new god on the block
– Sympathy for Prometheus

Zeus’s Role in the Play
– Bodily absent, present via agents
– Translating Zeus’s helpers
– (Browning’s translation comes from 1833)
– Descriptions of Zeus
– Zeus’s justice
– Divine ambiguities
– The suffering of Io

Divine Suffering and the Dionysian Festival
– Prometheus as crucified god
– The ambiguities of the festival itself
– Dionysus as suffering god and cause of suffering
– Improper worship
– Why Hephaestus limps

Bad Fortune as a Character
– Lady Fortune knocks some sense into Boethius
– The sublunary world
– Randomness, not malice
– Wyrd fortune
– Wheel! Of! Fortune!

Milton’s Prometheus
– Selfishness
– Satan’s public and private voices
– Milton critics as grumpy Muppets
– Ancient patterns of heroism

Unbinding Prometheus
– Shelley’s dissatisfaction
– The information Prometheus has on Zeus
– How fan fiction “corrects” the ending
– Appealing beyond Zeus
– Why use the Roman names?

The Nü Atheists: Stealing Fire?
– Why theodicy and anti-theodicy is nothing new
– Bart Ehrman’s immense self-satisfaction
– Higher justice and the Catholic Church
– Why Ivan Karamazov is a better Prometheus
– Dawkins and the bigger questions
– Is Prometheus an atheist?

Prometheus Bound and the Modern Christian
– The play as a corrective to syncretism
– Mythology as the good dreams of man
– The punishment for pity
– Shattering the unified “Greek mindset”
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aeschylus. Aeschylus II: The Suppliant Maidens and the Persians, Seven Against Thebes and Prometheus Bound. Ed. David Grene and Richmond Lattimore. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1992.

Boethius. The Consolation of Philosophy. Trans. Victor Watts. New York: Penguin, 1999.

Dante. Inferno. Trans. Mark Musa. New York: Penguin, 2002.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. Trans. Susan McReynolds Oddo. New York: Norton, 2011.

Ehrman, Bart. God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer. New York: HarperOne, 2008.

Euripides. Euripides V: Electra, The Phoenician Women, The Bacchae. Ed. David Grene and Richmond Lattimore. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1969.

Hitchens, Christopher. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. New York: Twelve, 2009.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. New York: Norton, 2004.

Shelley, Percy Bysshe. Prometheus Unbound. London: Black Box Press, 2007.

7 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #62: Aeschylus

  1. Good episode. I especially enjoyed the discussion of the New Atheists at the end – I had not realized that Bart Ehrman had crossed so far to the other side.

    I’ve heard that the Harris book is the best of the Four Horsemen (Is Ehrman vying for a mount?), but Ditchkin’s and Dennett’s work would not take much to be improved upon. I also think that the connection with Bertie Russell was the appropriate comparison to be made here. This really is prime real estate for you guys.

  2. I certainly hope it’s not, John. 🙂

    The reason I worked the Nü Atheists in, of course, is the common move in their texts that holds up humanity, in our Enlightened state, as more moral than those “primitive” gods of Christianity and especially Islam. Michial was right, though, to note that Nietzschean/Karamazovian atheism is actually a better fit with Prometheus because those philosophies acknowledge the actual content of God-speak and reject them rather than ruling God-claims out of court the way that analytic/evolutionary-socilogical systems do.

    1. Oh, I know where you were going! 🙂

      As far as I’m concerned, the Nü Atheists are kind of like Zemeckis’s Beowulf: they’re good for kicking on one’s own way from here to there, but a whole episode dedicated to ’em would just be depressing.

  3. Okay, I couldn’t let this “triptych” pass by without sharing a bad joke.

    An ancient Greek playwright goes to his tailor’s, carrying a torn pair of pants. The tailor looks to the playwright and says, “Euripides?” The playwright responds, “Yes, can Eumenides?”

    Thank you, I’ll be here all night.

  4. I got one too —

    I just heard this kid Oedipus swearing a ton. Do you kiss your mother with that mouth??

    Okay, sorry, that was awful.

    Loved the episode, and similarly to previous comments I really enjoyed the brief discussion about the Nü Atheists. I also completely agree about the Brothers Karamazov. Before leaving Moscow I made sure to buy the book in Russian, and that is my long-term goal as far as learning the language. I want to be able to read that book one day. I don’t know if that’s actually going to happen, but it would be awesome.

    Michial, I do the same thing when it comes to feedback.

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