NPR

'Tragedy, The Greeks, And Us' Examines How Classical Philosophers Saw Early Dramas

The Stone's Simon Critchley premises tragedy on action — as opposed to the generally more passive approach philosophy has a reputation for — and examines how Plato and others saw it as a threat.
Greek philosopher Plato with the philosopher and scientist Aristotle in 350 BC painted by Raphael as part of his School of Athens in the Vatican. Source: Hulton Archive

Somewhere between Olympus and humanity there's tragedy.

It endures because it depicts mortals divided against themselves and others while fate looms, inexorable. We're drawn to the boldness of tragic figures, in all their human frailty, as they face down the infinite. They can't look away and, out in the dark, in the audience, neither can we. When it's human will against fate, we know which way it always breaks, though we can't help but admire the resolve.

In , Simon Critchley is particularly focused on what tragedy is — and how it existed in relation to the philosophy of classical antiquity.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR3 min read
Champagne, Caviar And No Shame At All: Remembering Judith Krantz
The novelist, who died last week at 91, was often slammed by critics as a frivolous sex-and-shopping writer. But her luxuries were meticulously researched and her sex scenes gloriously shameless.
NPR2 min read
Senate Passes $4.6 Billion Emergency Border Funding Bill Signalling Battle With House
The sweeping 84-8 vote came minutes after the Senate handily rejected the House's humanitarian assistance bill, signalling what will likely be a contentious battle to reconcile the competing bills.
NPR4 min read
'When We Were Arabs' Is A Nostalgic Celebration Of A Rich, Diverse Heritage
Author Massoud Hayoun has Moroccan, Egyptian and Tunisian heritage — and is also Jewish. He weaves in his family history with the politics that shaped their lives, including European oppression.