Paradise and Death – Montana’s Personal Response

Paradise and Death made by Eric MacKnight really showed me another perspective to reading The Odyssey. It has served as an incredibly well-detailed and summarized version of the topics we covered in class, as well as raising new interpretations of Homer’s poems. In particular, what stood out to me was the notion of getting stuck in the past. It reminded me of a mini-series I watched years ago on Youtube where a cast of characters served as the different aspects of the protagonist’s personalities (Morality, Logic, Anxiety, etc.). In one of the climaxing episodes, Morality got quite literally stuck within their own nostalgia and longing for the past so much so that it caused a breakdown. I found that episode so interesting at the time, and now I’m being faced with the same topic once more.

As someone who commonly finds myself going through the never-ending spiral of “What if”‘s, trying to not get stuck in the Seirênês’ song would’ve been possibly the most challenging temptation for me, had I been in Odysseus’s place. Although, I do think I’ve surrounded myself with a very loving crew of people that would not listen to my begs to untie me. Whenever I do find myself in one of these episodes, I have a handful of people who I can count on,  my crew, who will help me return to my right mind.

As for the structure of this essay, it’s easy to follow and doesn’t bore me like some essays in the past have. I noticed there aren’t nearly as many quotes as I would expect in 18 pages. Maybe that has something to do with the length of the essay itself? Or perhaps I need to rethink the number of quotations I try to put into my essays. Nonetheless, the flow of it is something I strive to accomplish.

Antigone Personal Response – Montana

Antigone was quite the shift for me from Oedipus. This change in tone and the sudden air of seriousness caught me slightly off-guard while reading Antigone. I caught myself approaching it differently, which I thought to be quite interesting. Even with this personal response, I oddly find it much more difficult to write. I truly think that the content of Antigone is much richer and requires lots of thought before you can fully understand it. What made me enjoy Antigone was the powerful lines and stanzas scattered throughout the play, and the two major points I thought were the most important within these lines were the social commentary on the patriarchy and the criticism of power.

Throughout Antigone, various characters make comments on women, about how they are inferior, and other misogynistic views from its time. Ismene comments to her sister, “Remember we are women, we’re not born to contend with men.” (pg. 62). The theme in this quote, which is presented very early, really shows off Antigone’s position in this world. It tells us just the start of what she’ll need to face in the story. This continues later when Creon refuses to succumb to Antigone, “Better to fall from power, if fall we must, at the hands of man–never be rated inferior to a woman, never” (pg. 94). This quote is certainly for the audience, as we come to understand Creon’s character better. We also sympathize with Antigone, as the question is raised; If Antigone was born a man, would Creon ignore her crime, and in turn prevent the tragedies that ensue? The answer is unclear, but the question is fair.

More questions can be raised on other impactful lines, despite the different topics. One of the big themes I picked up on in Antigone was the discussion of power. Antigone’s two brothers fought for it, Antigone herself refused to acknowledge the king’s authority and laws, and we just covered the power of men over women. The power of money was very directly called out in Antigone in the following stanza.

Money! Nothing worse in our lives, so current, rampant, so corrupting. Money– you demolish cities, root men from their homes, you train and twist good minds and set them on to the most atrocious schemes. No limit, you make them adept at every kind of outrage, every godless crime– money! (pg.73)

While reading this, it was instantly put in my notes to look at again during class discussion. It was so shockingly relevant to me that I almost didn’t want to believe it was written so long ago. It goes along with another quote which follows it soon after, “Lucky tyrants–the perquisites of power! Ruthless power to do and say whatever pleases them.” (pg. 84). Once again, we see this view of power being given to humanity and becoming corruptive. We see it all around us today, and even then, in Ancient Greece. Despite the thousands of years that have passed, power remains a constantly corruptive element to humans. And that amazed me.

We like to think that we’ve grown since “ancient times”, that we’re more mature, better than then, but we’re not (at least not as much as we like to think we are). This has been a lesson I’ve been learning while reading Oedipus and Antigone. While we’ve mostly moved past blatant sexism, you start to realize how much personal bias people have against women, and since they can’t be loud about these misogynistic feelings they act out in microaggressions against the female sex, which I’m sure most girls in this class have experienced, including me. In terms of greater history, women’s rights are still incredibly new and continue to be fought for today, take the current situation in Iran as an example. And this same concept still applies to power. Power and money still create unethical people, we still have those same “Lucky tyrants” that Antigone calls out. It’s a pattern that makes us wonder, will it ever get better? I guess we’ll have to see.

How Oedipus Pleasantly Surprised me – Montana

Oedipus was not a book I expected to enjoy. There, I said it. Shocking, isn’t it? A 16-year-old in the 21st century did not think that they’d be moved by some tragedy written sometime in Ancient Greece. At most, I thought I’d enjoy hearing references to the Greek Gods. Now here I am, surprisingly moved by the writing and the humor presented in Oedipus.

As I said before in class, the humor of Oedipus was quite entertaining. I found myself laughing at many parts of the text, which I certainly did not anticipate from a tragedy. One of the many jokes that I appreciated was following Oedipus ranting about how Creon was going to attempt to overthrow him, and Creon responded with a simple, “Are you quite finished?” (pg. 189). Such a hilarious set of dialogue that is still enjoyed in our modern day. Before this, Oedipus proclaims,

Now my curse on the murderer. Whoever he is, a lone man unknown in his crime or one among many, let that man drag out his life in agony, step by painful step– I curse myself as well . . . if by any chance he proves to be an intimate of our house, here at my hearth, with my full knowledge, may the curse I just called down on him strike me! (pg. 172)

This excerpt of pure irony makes us as readers completely facepalm, as with the knowledge we have, we understand the ideocracy of this curse Oedipus puts upon the murderer of Laius, which is himself. Both examples of the humor within what we know as a Ancient Greek tragedy certainly caught me off guard yet amused me.

Another aspect of Oedipus that was very pleasing was the emotional writing. Charged lines within this play whether you are or aren’t expecting them hit you quite hard, no matter what. These lines of dialogue truly remind you that this is a tragedy, lines like,

Apollo, friends, Apollo– he ordained my agonies– these, my pains on pains! But the hand that struck my eyes was mine, mine alone– no one else– I did it all myself! What good were eyes to me? Nothing I could see could bring me joy. (pg. 241)

These few lines truly show the weight of living Oedipus’ life to me, his true intentions and feelings towards what’s happened to him. Here, we can see the trauma he’s endured truly showing through. It is lines like theses that really help immerse me into a book and make me enjoy the material I’m reading.

Overall, this book has caused the impression I’ve had of other ancient Greek tragedies to become less intimidating. Whereas before, the thought of reading them almost frightened me, now I feel as thought I could read through another book of similar type of Oedipus without worry, but instead excitement.

Hello Class Blog! – Montana

Hello! I’m Montana Avila-Piloyan, or Monty, I’ve lived in Canada the majority of my life, however, both my parents are immigrants who met here in Victoria! My dad’s from Nicaragua, and my mom’s from Armenia, and they both had an odd mess of a child, which is me! The eldest of three, I’ve become incredibly interested in film, storytelling, theatre, choreography and music, essentially all of the arts. I’m a semi-professional dancer and love to play volleyball, and my dream is to become involved in movie-making! Much of my enjoyment can be found in English, making it one of my favourite subjects!

I really hope that we read a lot of plays this year, as I’ve surprisingly not read that many. I hope we get the chance to do creative writing as well and have the chance to talk about what makes good stories. I expect myself to be pushed this year, and currently, I’m mentally preparing for that, but I also know that the challenging nature of English will enhance my understanding, and overall benefit my knowledge for the future.