Skip to main content

Waging Peace

Tim Connelly: A Greek Tragedy

Five members of the military from my state have died in our wars the past few days.
I am sorry they had to die at such a young age for reasons I will never understand. It surely isn't for our freedom. As the war dead mount and the years pass, I feel ever so helpless and hopeless for this country. You have to wonder if speaking out about the futility of war is worth the time and effort. Has anything really changed in 2,000 years?

In 416 B.C. Euripides wrote the play THE TROJAN WOMEN considered by many a scholar as one of the greatest pieces of anti-war literature. Euripides saw with clarity what war was -- but nothing happened. No one was won over to his side. No one took his idea and told the world -- which was full of war. Athens was fighting a life and death war. Its soldiers must not think. If they began to reason why, it was bad for the army. They must never think about the rights and wrongs of the war.

Athens called that being unpatriotic, not to say traitorous. The war continued and men did not feel guilty when terrible things were done. They grew used to them. A child's death is the chief action in the play. A little boy is taken from his mother to be killed. When the boy's dead body is returned, the mother has been taken away. Only the grandmother is there to receive the lifeless child. The old woman remembers the boy climbing on her bed and telling her what he would do when he was older. Not you, but I, old, homeless, childless, must lay you in your grave, so young, so miserably dead.

Euripides was called "the poet of the world's grief." A couple of years before the end of the war he died, not in his homeland but in another land, lonelier in death than in life. The reason he left his home is not known. It is written in an ancient text that Euripides had to go away because of the "malicious exultation" aroused against him in the city. It's no wonder why. In his play about war he voiced the deepest depths of grief. No other suffering approaches that which war inflicts.  We have suffered too much.  It's time to find peace.


←  Go back                                                  Next page