Semantron 2015

Editor’s introduction

Neil Croally

Welcome to Semantron 15. So various were this year’s contributions that I felt unable to impose any sort of thematic order (as in earlier editions). Instead, the alphabet rules, and serendipitous pleasure is possible. However, as with earlier editions, most of the contributions come from boys in their last year and are based on their extended essay. In addition there are a number of pieces which were entered for an essay prize. The two essays on relativism (Cullen, Nugent) were entered for last year’s Erasmus essay prize, and the 6 pieces by Messrs. Macklin, Shehzore, Sheriff and Tudor were all prize-winners in our own Gareth Evans Essay Competition for boys in the Middle School. The essays by Kottering and Viswanathan, and one by Sealey, were entered for prizes organized by Oxbridge colleges.

Semantron was founded by Jan Piggott and Richard Scholar.



Economic inequality in the USA SIMON BARROW


Why was the aulos the instrument of tragedy? HO TING CHAN


Troades’ remarkable agon NEIL CROALLY

18 Do some kinds of disagreements disprove the idea that one side is right and the other wrong? BARNABY CULLEN


How well does supersymmetry explain the physics beyond the standard model? MATTHEW FEUER


It’s a man’s man’s man’s world: women in the films of Martin Scorsese CHARLIE GODSIFF


Can antigravity explain dark matter and dark energy? HARRY GOODHEW

35 Foreign direct investment: to what extent has it driven the slum growth of developing nations? BEN HURD


The market for art in the Netherlands in the period 1650-1750 MARCUS KOTTERING


Immigrant labour: does it benefit or impoverish the United Kingdom? PRZEMYSLAW MACHOLAK


How is Euripides' Alcestis an exceptional figure in Greek tragedy? ARCHIE MacCORMACK


Why does fiction like to create worlds set in the future? THEO MACKLIN


My new punctuation mark THEO MACKLIN

60 How does Livy explore and subvert Roman morality in his narrative of the rape and suicide of Lucretia? RAFFY MARSHALL


Why is Africa poor? ALEX McCAFFREY


German art since 1945 MAX NUGENT

72 Do some kinds of disagreements disprove the idea that one side is right and the other wrong? MAX NUGENT

74 To what extent was it a foregone conclusion that the Tsarist autocracy would be

overthrown in 1917? RONAN PATRICK


Has the UK ever seen a government committed to socialist ideals? TAIDGH PLEDGER


War and medicine GEORGE PORTER


The death penalty in a democratic society ALEX RACKOW


The classical influence on the framers of the American constitution TOBY REDINGTON


Do the languages we speak influence the way we think and perceive the world? JAMIE SCOTT

95 How do their differing conceptions of the 'state of nature' influence the philosophy of government of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau? CHRIS SEALEY


Did John Stuart Mill really believe in universal free speech? CHRIS SEALEY


Has the internet changed the way we think? ADIL SHEHZORE


Contradiction ADAM SHERIFF


My new punctuation mark ADAM SHERIFF Quantitative easing CHRISTOPHER STONE



Private equity CHARLIE SPARKES


Re-evaluating Fukuyama’s ‘The end of history?’ EDMUND STUTTER


Can western human rights ever be universal in such a diverse world? CHARLIE SWINBURN


Three-parent babies JACK TEH


Are human rights universal? BEN TUDOR

137 How do their differing conceptions of the 'state of nature' influence the philosophy of government of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau? ANAMAY VISWANATHAN

Economic inequality in the USA

Simon Barrow Inequality in the distribution of income from wages and capital is present in any capitalist society; it is how incentives are structured. The CEO of a company making multiples of what the junior employees make serves to incentivize those people to aspire to his or her position. The fact that there is financial reward for employee’s achievements increases their productivity because it gives them a reason to work hard because they know they will be rewarded for it and turn they contribute to the growth and development of the economy of their respective country. Everybody wins, so the traditional argument goes. The question is this: is there a point where inequality is at such a level that it hinders the economy and society more than it helps it, and has America reached this point? Although there is no way to definitively prove that economic inequality is doing more harm than good because anything written about a less unequal America is all speculation. However, I endeavour to convince you, the reader, that inequality is a problem in America and that it is sufficiently serious to warrant action from the government. I will then propose various policies that the government could undertake and evaluate their respective plausibility and practicality. Firstly I will look at the evolution of inequality in the United State in the post-war years. The two world wars had large effects on the distribution of income and wealth in the USA; they changed the structure of the economy. There was a far greater focus on labour in the post-war years than there is currently and capital did not feature in the economy to the same extent that it does. This may explain why the growth experienced after the wars was more equally distributed. I will look at the period leading up to the wars, immediately after the wars and then the post war-recovery levels. The bottom line of America’s inequality story is that it enjoyed equal growth post-war. All wages rose together and the phrase ‘a rising tide lifts all ships’ seemed to have some truth to it. However, since 1970 wage growth for manufacturing labour has flat-lined while the share of income to the top 1% of earners in the US has increased dramatically. From 1947 to 1972 the share of income going to the top 1% of earners decreased by 29.2%. However, from 1972 to 2012 the share of income going to the top 1% of earners increased by a staggering 119.6% to 17.6% of national income. 1 The equal growth experienced from the 40s to the 70s was no accident. It was the result of policy responses to the great depression of the 1920s. There was federal support for collective bargaining, which led to a large increase in trade union density from 1935 up to a peak in 1945. There was a slight decline from 1945 to 1972 but after 1972 trade union density showed an unwavering downward trend as the share of income going to the top 1% increased dramatically. There were other political innovations in the New Deal such as social security and a minimum wage. Civil rights movements and second-wave feminism provided much greater security for working families while simultaneously reducing discrimination in the work place. The tax system at this time also kept high earners’ incomes from reaching levels previously seen in the 1920s. There was regulation on speculative finance accompanied by many public investments in providing access to higher education, mortgage subsidies for veterans, housing projects and an interstate highway system. These policies still rewarded the creation of capital, but they supported the rest of the population too, giving them the security they needed to be productive members of society. In 1972 the New Deal began to be dismantled. The excuse for this at the time was that it was done out of economic necessity and that the world had become far more competitive so the New Deal and the costs it imposed on businesses were no longer sustainable. There was a rise in conservative



politicians around this time and with them they brought the values and policies that would be the final nail in the New Deal’s coffin. There was no longer support for collective bargaining and unions and there were tax cuts accompanied by cuts in social spending. These policies were all undertaken in order to lower business costs and create a true free market. There was also widespread deregulation and privatization. From this time onward inequality has reached new heights. Amongst the OECD countries America is only less unequal than Mexico, Turkey, and Chile after taxes and transfers by the GINI index 2 measure of inequality. 3 So that is a condensed history of inequality in America. Inequality is on the rise and America is among the most unequal developed countries or, as Thomas Piketty put it, ‘(inequality of labour income in America) is probably higher than in any other society at any time in the past, anywhere in the world, including societies in which skill disparities were extremely large.’ 4 Now that it has been established that inequality has increased dramatically over the last 40 years and is looking unlikely to decrease without government intervention, it is important to understand the implications of inequality and the problems it causes in order to address these problems directly as well as inequality itself. Sustained inequality can be very discouraging for those in the bottom percentiles of income distribution because their work is rewarded unfairly in comparison to workers in other income percentiles. Production workers’ wages have stagnated for an entire generation while the top earners are enjoying nearly half of all of the country’s growth 5 and paying relatively little tax. Many of the activities that the top earners engage in such as predatory lending and sub-prime mortgage lending are detrimental to the poor but highly profitable for the rich and unsurprisingly inequality got markedly worse in the run up to the 2008 recession. 6 Moreover, as inequality increases to a certain point, consumption begins to decrease because those with the higher incomes tend to save a larger proportion of income while those on lower incomes consume all of their pay. This can cause a large drag in demand. This occurred in America to a varying extent from the 80s onwards, however easing of credit standards, leading to cheaper, more plentiful borrowing, propped up consumption. This created a financial services sector that was trying to capitalize on the desperate demand for credit from consumers and the desperation for short-term speculative returns from those looking to move up the income ladder at any cost, which, to nobody’s surprise, hugely increased debt in the economy. This ‘let them eat credit’ strategy temporarily subdues the symptoms of sustained high levels of inequality but it also creates an economy reliant on credit and vulnerable to external shocks. The extent to which banks were lending enormous amounts of money to private equity companies and then packaging the debt up in complicated financial products containing various kinds of ‘toxic debt’ simply to allow a continuation of the borrowing binge was at least in part helped by the deregulation and easing of credit standards of the 80s onwards. This combination of businesses and consumers borrowing money at unsustainable levels means that when there are shocks to the economy, as in the credit crunch of 2008, not only do the banks collapse but so does consumer spending because the credit that was funding their consumption is no longer available. This may well have been a contributing factor to the depth of the 2008 recession. Perhaps most importantly, inequality endangers democracy. Economic inequality breeds political inequality because those with the money will have the means to make a significant impact on public policy. This leads to a class of America’s wealthiest citizens, scared of a strong government and distribution of income and wealth, using their money to influence politicians into policies that favour them, thus exasperating the initial inequality. As a result government policy caters for a small portion of the population, namely those who can afford preferential treatment. In recent studies, it was found that policies supported by 20% of affluent Americans have about a 20% chance of being adopted, while policies favoured by 80% of affluent Americans are adopted around 50% of the time. Contrastingly, the support or opposition of the poor or middle class has little to no effect on the likelihood of the

2 3 - Gini_coefficient.2C_after_taxes_and_transfers 4 5 6


policy being adopted. 7 This problem has now increased further due to the citizens united case vs. the Federal Election Committee. Citizens United, a conservative non-profit organization, successfully convinced the Supreme Court that regulation on campaign finance was unconstitutional as political spending was a form of free speech. This means that corporations and other organizations can spend unlimited amounts of money on independent political expenditures such as radio and TV ads supporting a candidate. President Obama said that this ‘gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington’ and that this ruling ‘strikes at our democracy itself.’ This is most definitely a step in the wrong direction for a so-called democracy where votes are losing their spot as the primary influence of politics. 8 Inequality can also lead to a lack of equality of opportunity. Joseph Stiglitz’s book The Price of Inequality lays the argument out as follows: Many people at the bottom and in the middle are not living up to their potential due to the people at the top using their financial means to influence public policy towards cutting taxes and government spending and away from vital things like infrastructure, education and technology. This is devastating for the lower income brackets because they do not have the money that is required to have a good quality of education. 71% of students graduated with student loan debt, and the average debt was $29,400 9 and then a lot of employers are looking for a master’s degree, but only students with rich parents can afford to not work for another few years and rack up that level of debt. Unpaid internships are also a common pre-requisite for a high-earning career path, but again mainly students with rich parents can afford to take an unpaid job. This means that more than ever the income and wealth of one’s parents are influential in bringing about future success. This seriously hinders social mobility and may be why social mobility is as low as half what it is in some western European countries. 10 So inequality damages social mobility, democracy and the economy. The damage it causes is severe enough to contribute to recessions and inequality and financial crises have correlated for a century. Inequality means that the rewards (money) are not going to the most able or those that work the hardest but to those with the richest parents. This means that the economy’s most valuable asset, its people, is being underused. There are benefits to reduced inequality as the IMF concluded that ‘lower net inequality is robustly correlated with faster and more durable growth, for a given level of redistribution.’ Reducing inequality would increase social mobility whilst also reducing damage caused to the economy by inequality, in the form of a parasitic financial sector and a lack of opportunity. This raises the question as to how inequality could be reduced. The following are various policy suggestions that may be appropriate for the government to undertake to reduce inequality. The solution of the inequality issue is all about redistribution of the resources in an economy. Germany, Italy and Portugal all have higher market levels of inequality but the US is the third most unequal OECD country after taxes and transfers. 11 The main problem is in the transfers, that there is not enough social spending on the poor. There must be increased spending on the poor in order to provide them with the opportunities to succeed, should they be capable. Currently in the US there is a lack of opportunity and not a great deal of worker protection. This has led to President Obama calling for the law to be updated so that a woman can ‘have a baby without sacrificing her job’ and that people can ‘care for a sick child or parent without running into hardship.’ This gets to the core of the inequality issue. Equality of opportunity is about investing in the children of a country, and currently only the rich can afford these investments, so the middle class children fall behind for no other reason than their parents lacking money. This is where the government needs to step in and make these 7 inequality/external? gilens& inequality%2Findex 8 9 10 mobility-measured 11


investments in the youth so that they will be more productive. This has productivity benefits for the economy as a whole and may serve to reduce later government spending on welfare. Keeping women in the work force will also increase the amount of money ordinary families have access to and are able to spend on their children, thus reducing the ill-effects of income inequality. This can be shown by the fact that amongst high-earners 66.2% have access to paid parental leave, compared with 10.8% of those who earn the lowest wages. And while 78.5% of the highest-paid workers have access to earned sick time, only 15.2% of the lowest-paid workers have the right to take paid days off if they or a family member get sick. 12 This is worrying because it means that those already in the most fragile of economic situations are most prone to sudden loss of income due to a child or parent getting sick. Greater equality for working parents would mean a more equal upbringing for the nation’s children, which should serve to reduce the manifestations of wage-gaps later on in life and restore a sense of meritocracy to the US economy, so people can finally believe in the American Dream again. To create the revenue for this the government could tax income and wealth at an equal level and strive to eliminate estate tax loopholes that currently allow a very substantial amount of wealth to be passed down to future generations, which is not good for social mobility. Capital gains and wealth should be taxed closer to the level wages are taxed at. It is unfair to tax a labourer considerably more than someone who earns their income from capital gains, they should be treated more equally in tax terms as sources of income. Giving effective tax breaks to those that have capital allows their income to grow faster than the rate of growth of the economy and when this is the case it could lead to greater concentration of wealth and in turn income. This would worsen inequality as a whole, and should be addressed urgently before the problem grows. The government may also choose to focus on consumption taxes to help tax the cash economy could create extra income for the government to then spend on services that increase mobility such as education, healthcare and welfare benefits. Looking at countries with high mobility such as Denmark and Sweden, there is significant public spending on healthcare and education accompanied by consumption taxes. 13 The precedent set by these Scandinavian countries may be something for the US to follow. However, most economists agree that value-added taxes are regressive, which would be an obvious downside to a policy seeking to reduce inequality. There could also be a greater focus on immigration of foreign-born people with a university education to the US without changing the overall level of migration. Currently the professions facing the most competition from immigrants are low-paid manufacturing jobs and hospitality jobs. Well-educated immigrants do not compete with low-paid manufacturing workers; they complement each other. With no US taxpayer dollars needed to educate these immigrants, the US is effectively receiving free human capital. Since demand for college-educated people has increased simultaneously with decreasing supply, increasing the supply of immigrants with university degrees, doctorates and PHDs could well be the answer to the income disparity between less educated and more educated Americans. Moreover, there should be federal support for unions and collective bargaining because between 1935 and 2012 trade union density and inequality have been negatively correlated. 14 Trade Unions allow workers to come together and demand fair wages that they can live off. Middle-class wages have barely changed since 1970 while those of the higher income brackets have increased considerably. Trade Unions would help reduce wage inequality. The strong link between low levels of inequality and high trade union membership 15 should be carefully considered by the government as a feasible way to combat inequality.

In conclusion, inequality in America is a problem mainly because it harms social mobility. Equality of

12 families/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 13 14 15


outcomes is not the answer to America’s inequality problem but rather equality of opportunity. More must be done by the American government to remove influence family money can have on the opportunities available to children. A satisfactory minimum level of education and healthcare are a must for a society that is to function healthily and have an acceptable level of intergenerational mobility. There must also be steps taken to increase the power ordinary citizens have over the government and attempt to reduce the influence wealthy individuals and companies can have on politicians in order to ensure that policies cater for the majority, not the money. In my opinion, the best thing the government could do to reduce inequality would be to give federal support to trade unions to increase the bargaining power of workers. This may impose a minor cost to business, but the benefit to the wider society far outweighs this cost. Finally, more social spending needs to be directed to the poorer citizens of America. The reason Germany is more equal than America after taxes and transfers is not because of the taxes but the transfers. The German government provides vital services and employment conditions that allow the poorer people in their society to earn a wage that is possible to live off. Although this would be politically divisive in the US, it is important for the government to emphasize the benefits of this avenue of reducing inequality. The combination of these two policies would be the most effective way to reduce inequality in America.


Why was the aulos the ‘instrument of tragedy’?

Ho Ting Chan

Athenian tragedy was ‘a musical event’. 1 It is accepted that the chorus was a fundamental element of tragedy with regard to the structure of tragedy and the physical presence of the chorus onstage. 2 However, the chorus was not the only musical element in tragedy. For choruses had an instrumental accompaniment, namely the aulos . In this essay I wish to explore the role of the aulos within tragedy. I shall briefly explain what the aulos is, before examining why the aulos was a most appropriate instrument for tragedy. In addition, I will argue that the aulos was more than a simple accompanying instrument, but was employed to create effects and emotions for the audience. Hence I address the word ‘instrument’ in two different ways: the first is the aulos’ capability as a physical instrument; the second is the aulos capability as an emotional instrument. I shall begin with a description of the aulos . The word aulos is translated from Ancient Greek as a ‘pipe’. The instrument is, in essence, a cylinder-shaped pipe with finger-holes and a double-reed mouthpiece. 3 Therefore, the common perception of the aulos as a ‘flute’ is incorrect because the flute is not played by means of a reed. The aulos should instead be categorised as an ‘oboe’ because they both use a double-reed. The instrument was usually made of wood, ivory, bone or metal 4 and probably consisted of two sections of pipe fitted together. 5 There were usually five finger-holes, including one for the thumb on the underside of the instrument. 6 . As for the reed, this was inserted into a holmos (a smooth, round object), which was a more bulbous section of pipe. 7 The aulos -player, called an aulete , usually played two auloi at once, one in each hand. The aulete wore a phorbeia , a strap designed to ensure that the auloi remained in the mouth to ensure easier playing. 8 The aulos was an ideal instrument for accompanying the chorus. The instrument’s sound was particularly penetrating and projected well, which meant that the music would have carried easily to the audience. The aulos would also have had enough sound to balance well with a chorus of up to 50 members without being overpowering. 9 As tragedies were performed outdoors, it is likely that the aulos was the only instrument capable of projecting music throughout the theatre, as instruments such as the lyre and the panpipe would probably not have had as piercing a tone. Another advantage of the aulos was that it had potentially a much greater range of pitch than the chorus. 10 It was capable of playing in registers much higher than the capabilities of a male chorus. As a result, the aulos may have been used to create an effect of female voices singing as well, if desired. I shall now turn to the aulos as an emotional instrument. The aulos’ sound was connected with the ‘sound of lamentation’, 11 making the instrument suitable for a genre in which grief and mourning were a prominent feature. The aulos could also create sounds of nature or even mechanical objects. 12 The aulete could also switch between musical modes 13 due to the invention of adjustable metal sleeves 1 Wilson 2005 p. 183. 2 Wilson 2005 p. 183. 3 Artistic and literary evidence suggests that a double-reed was used as opposed to a single-reed. A discussion of this is provided in West 1992 pp. 83-4. 4 West 1992 p. 86. 7 Wilson 1999 p. 69. 8 Wilson 1999 p. 70 9 The trumpet existed in Ancient Greece, but its loud volume might have overpowered the chorus. 10 Tragic choruses were usually all-male. There were different types of auloi , categorised by the registers within which they sounded. See West 1992 pp. 89-91. 11 Wilson 2005 p. 185 12 Wilson 2005 p.185 (Plato Laws 669c-e; Aristotle Poetics 1461b). 13 I will summarize what modes are in the next paragraph. 5 Neuman 1995. 6 West 1992 p.86.


on the aulos . Although there is no surviving evidence to suggest that these effects were actually created in a performance, the flexibility of the aulos would have given a tragedian more compositional freedom and the range of effects that could be created through music would have grown. In order to suggest potential effects created by the aulos , a brief outline of modes is required. A mode, in short, is a scale comprising a fixed set of intervals. The starting note of the scale does not matter, as long as the intervals are the same. 14 The modes usually employed in tragedy were the Dorian mode and the Mixolydian; the Ionian, Lydian and Phrygian modes were also used. The Dorian mode was associated with lamentation, but was also seen as a dignified mode, linked with nobility and courage. 15 The Mixolydian mode was associated with mourning and grief. On the other hand, Plato disapprovingly described the Ionian and Lydian modes as ‘soft’ 16 and ‘suitable for drinking-parties’. 17 If we are to believe what Plato has claimed, then these modes would be lighter and less solemn. The Phrygian mode was linked with anything from dutifulness to wild madness and frenzy. It was also the mode most associated with the aulos itself, and the ‘Bacchic 18 activity and all dancing of that sort’. 19 So it seems reasonable to say that the Phrygian mode was capable of inducing strong feelings among an audience. Very few fragments of ancient music survive; one fragment from tragedy which survives is part of a choral ode from Euripides’ Orestes , which is accompanied by the aulos. 20 I have listened to this fragment 21 and will now suggest effects produced by the aulos’ presence in the music. At this point of the tragedy, Orestes, son of Agamemnon, has killed his mother Clytemnestra in revenge for her murder of Agamemnon. As a result, Orestes is driven mad by the Furies over the killing of his mother. This Orestes fragment seems to have been composed in either the Dorian or Phrygian mode. Therefore, the general mood of the music would probably be rather serious and mournful – somewhat appropriate to the text to which the music corresponds.

ματέρος α ἷ μα σ ᾶ ς , ὅ σ ᾽ ἀ ναβακχεύει ; ὁ μέγας ὄ λβος ο ὐ μόνιμος ἐ ν βροτο ῖ ς : κατολοφύρομαι κατολοφύρομαι 22 . ἀ ν ὰ δ ὲ λα ῖ φος ὥ ς τις ἀ κάτου θο ᾶ ς τινάξας δαίμων κατέκλυσεν δειν ῶ ν π όνων ὡ ς π όντου λαʆ βροις ὀ λεθριʆ οισιν ἐ ν κυʆ μασιν . 23

Euripides Orestes 338-344

‘I grieve, I grieve – your mother’s blood that drives you wild. Great prosperity among mortals is not lasting: upsetting it like the sail of a swift sloop some higher power swamps it in the rough doom-waves of fearful toils, as of the sea.’ 24

For most of the fragment, the auloi appear to accompany the chorus by simply playing in unison; however, there are some instances where the auloi diverge from the chorus melody, thereby creating harmony. Given that instances of harmony seem to be relatively uncommon amongst the music, it 14 An example would be the major scale in music. All major scales are part of the modern Ionian mode. 15 Plato Republic 399a 16 Plato Republic 398e 17 Translation taken from Plato, Republic trans. R. Waterfield 1993. 18 Bacchic is a term used to describe Dionysus, god of wine, who is associated with drunkenness and madness. 19 West 1992 p.180 (Aristotle Poetics 1342a-b). 20 The transcriptions of the fragment can be found in West 1992 pp. 284-286, the original fragment is Vienna papyrus G 2315. 21 The recordings are available on a CD entitled Music of the Ancient Greeks performed by Ensemble De Organographia, 1995. 22 In the fragment, line 340 is placed before line 338. 23 All Greek text in this essay has been taken from the Perseus Digital Library. 24 I have used the translation provided by West 1992 p. 284


would appear that Euripides deliberately employed harmony to create certain emotions.

The first place where harmony occurs is at the word ματεʆ ρος , ‘of the mother’, where the auloi seem to be in unison here, both playing a different note to the chorus. I feel that the music would gain more meaning and interest at this point, especially given that the unison music beforehand, while suitably serious in emotion, lacks particular impact. The harmony here draws our attention to the word, and may therefore emphasise the relationship between Orestes and Clytemnestra. The fact that the word α ἷ μα , ‘blood’, comes afterwards would then highlight the violent act of revenge which Orestes has committed. My next point of interest is the word τιναʆ ξας ‘having upset’, where the auloi play one held note whilst the chorus sing a moving melody. The harmony created by the chorus melody here could indicate a change in the tone of the text from one of pity, to one of danger. The meaning of the word is drawn out by the harmony as opposed to unison. The next point of harmony at the word δειν ῶ ν , ‘terrible’, is of particular interest because the auloi diverge, playing two separate notes to the chorus. I believe this this development in the harmony could convey a more intense effect to the audience. Given the meaning of the word, I think that this more unusual harmony could have been intended to give an effect of fear and terror to the audience. The final place in the fragment where the parts diverge is at the words ὡ ς π οʆ ντου , ‘as of the sea’. The chord, which appears to comprise the same notes as δειν ῶ ν , might indicate that Euripides intended to imply a relationship between the δειν ῶ ν and the π οʆ ντου . On the other hand, the chord could simply be one which was often used to convey an impression of power and fear to the audience. Nevertheless, the presence of harmony draws our attention to the destructive nature of the sea. In this essay, I have attempted to show why the aulos was the ‘instrument of tragedy’. 25 I have looked at the reasons why the aulos was employed as an accompaniment to the chorus; that is, the penetrating sound of the instrument enabled it to project music effectively in an outdoor setting. I have also attempted to suggest that the aulos was capable of being more than just mere accompaniment, and that the instrument could be used to convey emotions to the audience. Its ability to switch between different modes meant that it could induce a wide range of feelings among an audience. I also believe that it could enhance the meaning of the text and create the emotions associated with words in the text. I acknowledge that very little evidence is available concerning ancient music, and that one isolated fragment cannot provide an accurate representation of a lost world of music. However, having listened to the fragment reconstructed, I believe that tragedians wrote music for instruments to be interpreted with emotion and meaning, rather than as simply plain accompaniment.


Croally, N., & Hyde, R. eds. 2011). Classical Literature: An Introduction. Abingdon. Csapo, E., & Slater, W. (1994). The Context of Ancient Drama. Ann Arbor.

Ensemble De Organographia (1995). On Music of the Ancient Greeks [CD]. Oregon: Pandourion Records. Neuman, P. (1995). The Aulos and Drama: A Performer's Viewpoint . Retrieved August 30, 2014, from Plato. (1993). Republic. (R. Waterfield, Trans.) Oxford. West, M. L. (1992). Ancient Greek Music. Oxford. Wilson, P. (1999). The aulos in Athens. In S. Goldhill, & R. Osborne, Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy. Cambridge. Wilson, P. (2005). Music. In J. Gregory, A Companion to Greek Tragedy. Malden, MA.

25 I have taken this claim from Wilson 1999 p. 73.


Troades’ remarkable agon

Neil Croally

Introduction: the agon

I do not mean to analyse the agon scene in and of itself, as a stand-alone set-piece debate (interesting though that is). Instead, I want to consider the agon in relation to the rest of the play, most particularly but not only to the preceding Andromache scene. For it is in this relation that we shall see how extraordinary the debate between Helen and Hecuba is. 1 Of course, the agon is a pervasive feature in archaic and classical Greek culture, and can describe everything from athletic competitions to set-piece debates for display, from genuine debates in the law courts to war itself. Athens in the democratic fifth century was not only involved in some form of military activity on most days somewhere in the Greek world; it was also known for being (and knew itself as) a famously litigious society, as Strepsiades’ remark at Aristophanes Clouds 208 makes clear (he has just been shown a map and has asked to be shown where Athens is):

ἐ π ε ὶ δικαστ ὰ ς ο ὐ χ ὁ ρ ῶ καθημεʆ νους

[It cannot be Athens] because I do not see jurors in session

And Cleon, at least the Thucydidean Cleon, is happy to disparage those attending the Assembly as eager ‘spectators of speeches’ ( theatai ton logon ; Thuc. 3.38.4). The agon is also a feature of tragedy, as Simon Goldhill says: In the democratic polis, the law court and Assembly are analogous institutions to the theatre, and these three great public spaces for the performance of logoi – speeches, arguments, language as display – strikingly interrelate. 2 More specifically, the agon is a feature of Euripidean tragedy. While we might disagree with Michael Lloyd that the earliest examples of the tragic agon appear in Sophocles’ early plays Ajax and Antigone (what of Eumenides ?), we can agree with the same critic’s identification of thirteen clearly definable agones in Euripidean tragedy. 3 Lloyd also notes that Euripides very often clearly marks out his agones as separate scenes. 4 That separation has also been a cause for criticism: Bond, for instance, finds the debate in HF quite ungermane; 5 Collard makes this general point about Euripidean agones . They demonstrate

. . . self-indulgent digression for the sake of rhetorical display, at the cost of dramatic continuity and relevance . . . 6

Lloyd, while not quite agreeing with Euripides’ shortcomings as a dramatist, believes that the

1 This paper was origanally delivered at a conference on The Trojan Women in Ravenna, February 2015. In expnaded form it will be published in a collection of the conference papers in 2016. 2 Goldhill 1997: 132. On the agon in Epic, Historiography and Tragedy, see now Barker 2009. On the pervasiveness of the agon in Greek culture, see Croally 1994:120-22. 3 Lloyd 1992: 1 – 3.

4 Lloyd 1992: 2, 4, 14. 5 Bond 1981: 108-9. 6 Collard 1975: 59.


Euripidean agon rarely achieves anything. But he reaches this judgement first because he believes that tragic conflicts are not soluble by rational or rhetorical discussion (possibly true but . . .), 7 but also because he is most keen to compare an agon in one play with one in another; and he is not alone in this. In these terms the debate in Troades conforms in some respects but not in others. It is certainly marked out as a debate (see lines 903-4), as is common in Euripides. Both Duchemin and Lloyd note that, normally in Euripidean debates, the defendant speaks second; Duchemin notes in addition that the defendant is normally the winner. But in Troades Helen, the defendant, speaks first, perhaps because she has been so much accused in the play already. 8 Whether Helen or Hecuba wins or loses the debate – both in terms of the argument and whether she is executed or not – remains a matter of debate. 9 It is more certain, however, that trying to understand the function and meaning of the debate in Troades by reference to the apparent convention of agones in other plays may be to miss the point. Better to look at the debate scene in Troades in the context of the play itself. By doing that we may be able to make more sense of what makes Troades’ debate scene so distinctive: it is not only clearly marked out and perceived as separable ( qua Lloyd); it is also obviously but importantly anomalous in tone. The (imagined) background of the play is the completely destroyed city of Troy. Such a scene is unique in tragedy. 10 The destruction is total (see e.g. 8, 60, 145, 586): all Trojan males (except one) are dead; all the women have been enslaved and are about to be allocated to their new masters (see e.g. 246ff., 659ff.). The scene we see before us – the tents ( skenai ) that the women are supposed to inhabit (though we never see or see used the inside in Troades : this is unique) – is temporary , and will be gone when the play ends. The Trojan Women are to be dispersed under conditions of slavery throughout the Greek world (note 159-62; 180-1). Troy has become a desolation; its name as well as its walls gone (1260ff.). The Trojan women’s experience of the war is to have witnessed ritual practice and even religious belief collapse; they have also witnessed – or the play makes clear – the inversion, collapse, complication or unworkability of constitutive polarities, such as Greek/Barbarian; Free/Slave; Friend/Enemy; Man/Woman. Hecuba, present in all scenes, is in all scenes except the debate scene an obvious example of the appalling effects of war, often indeed so oppressed that she is on the floor. The context Troades is arguably the grimmest play ever written.

The agon: is it anomalous?

The obvious answer is: yes. Here are some of the reasons:

a. It is the first and only appearance of a senior Greek (Menelaus), and is the first and only appearance of Helen; b. the (new) character of Hecuba; c. the arguments themselves.

I shall deal with these three points in reverse order.

i. The arguments are anachronistic; Helen borrows some of the arguments used by Gorgias or, at least, argues in a similar way; Hecuba’s arguments are also sophistic. 11

7 Lloyd 1992: 15-16. 8 Duchemin 1968: 139; Lloyd 1992: 17, 101

9 Some think that Helen wins the argument; most, Hecuba; see Croally 1994: 157-60 for references and discussion. 10 Easterling 1989; 1997: 173. Stieber 2011: 2 n.3 quotes Burian, P. (1999) ‘Melos or Bust: Reading the Trojan Women Historically’, AJP abstracts p. 90: Troades ‘is the only extant tragedy that actually shows the destruction of a polis’. 11 On the relation between Gorgias’ Encomium of Helen and Helen’s speech in Troades , see e.g. Conacher 1998: 51-8; Spatharas 2002. I think some critics get themselves tied up in knots as to how Gorgianic Helen’s speech is, and how sophistic the debate as a whole is. In relation to Gorgias, I think I was right – and Spatharas 2002: 166 agrees – that it


ii. Hecuba is transformed. No longer the pathetic, oppressed victim of war, she becomes an uber-Gorgias, a hyper-sophist. Gellie puts it this way: ‘The mater dolorosa has to become an intellectual heavyweight, a fifth-century free thinker; but this should not disturb us too much.’ 12 But such a transformation does trouble some, especially those who like to see characterization and character development. A.M. Dale, in a famous formula, argued that character in tragedy is formed by the ‘rhetoric of the situation’. 13 Some more recent critics have urged more caution. Donald Mastronarde, for instance, argues that agones can often reshape character in interesting ways, ‘a legitimate facet of the dramatic character, one that is revealed or even triggered by the extreme pressure of a hostile agon ’. Mastronarde also wants to argue that one of the points that Euripides may be making is that character is not simply single, but capable of various and not necessarily consistent actions. 14 There is something in this, but there remains something in Dale’s formulation as well. Clearly, Hecuba needs to respond rhetorically to Helen (indeed she demands that she should be allowed to do so (906-10). But her transformation from victim to rhetorician, and her return to victim after the debate, suggests that neither Dale’s ‘rhetoric of the situation’ nor Mastronarde’s allowance for the plurality of character explain her transformation sufficiently. iii. Troades is not unique in introducing a character only in a debate scene – Pheres is introduced for the agon in Alcestis (614-733) 15 – but it is surely unique in introducing two characters, Helen and Menelaus, both of whom only appear in the debate scene. This fact alone might make Troades ’ agon seem remarkable. Menelaus is also only the second (speaking) man to appear on stage, and certainly the only senior Greek. That his character can be seen as so feeble, feeble-minded and banal is itself of interest, given the context of the play. Certainly, all his rather negative qualities are sharply highlighted by the various ways in which two extraordinary women debate before him as their judge. Hecuba, and her transformation in this scene, we have already mentioned. But Helen – to use the vernacular – is something else. Goldhill says: ‘Casting and dressing Helen is not easy.’ 16 Imagine that you are the Director. How do you cast and dress Helen? The play itself, or at least Hecuba in the play, says this of Helen’s appearance (1022-7):

κἀπὶ τοῖσδε σὸν δέμας ἐξῆλθες ἀσκήσασα κἄβλεψας πόσει τὸν αὐτὸν αἰθέρ᾽, ὦ κατάπτυστον κάρα. ἣν χρῆν ταπεινὴν ἐν πέπλων ἐρειπίοις, φρίκῃ τρέμουσαν, κρᾶτ᾽ ἀπεσκυθισμένην ἐλθεῖν

And in addition to these things you have come out having adorned your body, and you have looked at the same air as your husband, you despicable creature.

You should have come humbly, in rags, shaking with fear, with your head shaved.

So, is Helen all glammed up? Various productions in the UK have her so. See these two pictures: one from the National Theatre in 1995 – Helen as Marilyn Monroe; 17

is a matter not of ‘priority or influence but similarity’. 12 Gellie 1986: 117. 13 Dale 1954: xxv. 14 Mastronarde 2010: 222-8; 245. 15 Rutherford 2012: 193. 16 Goldhill 2007: 203. 17 For criticism of this production, see Goldhill 2007: 127-8.


another advertising the play with (a scantily clad Helen) and the quote: ‘I was sold for my beauty’ (lines 935-6). I have also one famous classical image: Helen seems to be in control (especially with her little helper).

Worman notes interestingly that the organizing principle of Helen’s speech are the desirable bodies of Paris, of Aphrodite, and of course herself. 18 However Gorgianic she is, it just may be that the most persuasive thing about Helen is the way she looks; not only persuasive, but destructive as well, as Hecuba says (892-4):

αἱρεῖ γὰρ ἀνδρῶν ὄμματ᾽, ἐξαιρεῖ πόλεις, πίμπρησιν οἴκους: ὧδ᾽ ἔχει κηλήματα. ἐγώ νιν οἶδα, καὶ σύ, χοἱ πεπονθότες.

So how are we to explain the presence of this debate scene, which Gellie calls ‘eccentric’ and ‘played to special rules’ 19 , another critic ‘baffling’ 20 and which I have referred to as anomalous?

18 Worman 1997: 180. Seneca Troades 882ff. has Helen talking about the benefits both of dressing up and being a captive. 19 Gellie 1986: 114, 117. 20 Amerasinghe 1973: 99.


Let us be clear, though: the anomaly of the scene is not thematic . Earlier critics have referred to the scene as crystallizing some of the intellectual issues of the play, or as bringing together some of the play’s most important motifs, or as being the culmination of the play’s concern with marriage. 21 I do not disagree with any of those assessments. But, in my own terms, I would say the following: the agon in Troades is as much concerned with the terrible effects of war as the rest of the play, as well as being specifically concerned with the causes of the war. Those terrible effects are seen in the problems with important constitutive polarities (human/divine; man/woman; free/slave; friend/enemy; Greek/barbarian. 22 But the agon is also a crucial part – along with the Cassandra scene – of the play’s examination of the agon itself. Though agon can describe a wide variety of contests, in all its forms it is not only a regulated activity; it is also designed to produce a victor (however provisional that status is). Cassandra explicitly and paradoxically questions whether the war – one agon – has produced a winner (365-405). The result of the debate between Helen and Hecuba, while apparently explicit (Helen is guilty and will be taken back to Greece to be executed), stands in tension with Odyssey 4, where Helen is alive and well, and indeed enjoying herself. 23 Some critics are certain that Helen is the winner, even if they are depressed about that fact (e.g. Gellie 1986; Worman 1997); others are sure that Hecuba prevails (e.g. Meridor 2000: 25) 24 . Lloyd argues that only two Euripidean debates produce a result ( Hecuba and Heracleidae ): in his view the lack of resolution is typical and unsurprising – tragic conflicts are by definition not easy to deal with. 25 This view, I believe, underestimates the debate’s contribution to the play’s examination of the agon per se. So the anomaly of the agon is not thematic; it is tonal. And that tonal difference is necessary not for the dramatic structure of the play but for – if I can put it this way – the psychological well-being of the audience. Some critics have remarked on something like this. Stinton described the debate scene as emotional relief; 26 Poole thought that the function of the scene was to ‘alleviate some immediate desperation’; 27 Gellie well argues that there is so much pain in Troades but that ‘The truly tragic experience seems to need something else, a make-weight which tugs against misery in a balancing tension’. 28 Again, I do not disagree with any of the above but I do think that we can make our comments and observations about the function and tone of the agon scene a little sharper. To do that, we first need to look at the Andromache scene. As Andromache enters on a cart with Astyanax, we are perhaps not as well-prepared for her being on stage as we were for Cassandra before and as we will be when Helen enters. For both Cassandra and Helen (especially the latter) are mentioned a number of times before they actually enter the stage. This is not so for Andromache. 29 Straightaway, she and Hecuba jointly lament the destruction wrought by war and, in particular, how their status has changed (576ff.). Andromache brings with her news of Polyxena’s death, which unsurprisingly has a crushing effect on Hecuba (622ff.). Andromache then argues that Polyxena is in a far better position than herself, precisely because she is already dead and will not have to endure the humiliations and deprivations that Andromache will experience in Greece (634ff.). In particular, Andromache notes the horrible irony that her reputation as a model wife has caused her to be allotted to the son of her husbands’ killer (643ff.). Despite that, she is determined to remain faithful to Hector (667ff.). Hecuba advises against that, most specifically because, by devoting herself to her new man, she may be able to raise Astyanax. Her lines here are worth quoting (701-5): 21 Stinton 1965: 39; Ebener 1954; Gellie 1986. 22 The examination of these polarities under the pressure of war is the subject of Croally 1994: chapter 2. Rosenbloom 2006: 256-9 argues that the agon in Troades should be read with/against the Melian dialogue, that famous debate that precedes victor’s actions uncannily similar to those of the Greeks in Troades . On the possibility of contemporary allusions in the play see (now) Roisman 1997. 23 On the relationship with Odyssey 4, see Davidson 1999-2000: 126. 24 ‘And win her case, Hecuba does, as is evident from Menelaus’ decision (1036-41).’ Meridor goes on to argue that the death of Astyanax means that Helen is not be executed; see 2000:27. 25 Lloyd 1992: 15-16. For criticism of my argument about the lack of resolution in Troades , see Barker 2009: 7. 26 Stinton 1965: 39. 27 Poole 1976: 274. 28 Gellie 1986: 114. On pathos and lamentation in the play, see also Due 206: 136-50; Loraux 2002: 8; Suter 2003. 29 Meridor 1989 argues this; cf. Phillippo 2007: 328. It is at this very moment, this moment of rare hope, that Talthybius brings news that the Greek army,


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