You Can't go Home Again: On the Conceptualization of Disasters in Ancient Greek Tragedy
Advancing Global Bioethics
The ancient Greek tragedy represents one of the earliest and most dramatic ways of dealing with the phenomenon of disaster in literature. This ancient literary form will be used as a kind of template in the search for recurrent forms of moral attitudes and behaviour that seem to follow almost universally in the wake of war and armed conflicts. First, the focus will be on war veterans' experiences and narratives of going home again, i.e. of returning from combat back to a life called 'normal'.
... called 'normal'. These are experiences that render both the victorious and the defeated representatives of such conflicts extremely vulnerable and susceptible to harm, as dramatically displayed in Sophocles' tragedy Ajax. Second, Euripides' plays Andromache, Hecuba and The Trojan women will be made use of. In these plays, unvarnished versions of the horrors women and children are subjected to as a consequence of war are dramatically displayed. To demonstrate the moral timelessness and didactic potentials of these ancient representations, the fate of war veterans, women and children in the wake of modern wars and armed conflicts will then be displayed through Bryan Doerries' narrative, Theater of war, of exposing US war veterans to Sophocles play Ajax, and through the narratives of 50 Syrian women, all refugees living in Aman, Jordan because of the civil war in Syria, of staging Euripides' play The Trojan women. Tragedies don't mean anything. They do something. (Bryan Doerries 2015) Victory over an enemy force can be interpreted as a licence to rape, with women's bodies seen as the spoils of war.