Friday, September 09, 2011

Titus Adronicus and Afghanistan

Writing in FP, Nick Schifrin has an excellent essay on Titus Adronicus and the Afghan War:
Titus Andronicus is a play about revenge. It is about how a general fighting for an empire -- Rome -- finally defeats the "barbarous" Goths and returns to his capital with prisoners, the vanquished queen and her sons. Despite the queen's pleas, Titus kills her oldest son to avenge his own sons' deaths, beginning cycles of brutal violence that end in the death of nearly every major character. At its core, Titus Andronicus is a play about how good people can become unhinged and indeed overwhelmed by the need to avenge. It is about how powerful people surrender themselves to cycles of violence, how tribal and religious customs unequivocally demand retaliation, and how two tribes' or two religions' speaking past rather than with each other can lead to chaos. "Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand,/Blood and revenge are hammering in my head," one of Titus's enemies says before the bloodletting begins.

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