Thursday, March 22, 2007

More on Aeschylus in class

Just finished reading again the Agamemnon and the Libation Bearers (Choephori)I used Meineck's version since it is the one my students have, and took a few notes in the pages, but will consult the Hughes before I meet class. Boy! These plays fairly shimmer with a deeply resonant elegance. The metaphors--the famous metaphors, celebrated, ubiquitous, commanding--tie it together, drench it in blood, so that each one of them seems to emerge from the depths into a bright sunshine and then drift back to the ooze.
Standard assignments: Describe how the imagery of light and dark functions in the play. Although I think I would know where to begin, finding a way to conclude would tax my energies. Another: Describe how the animal imagery functions in the play. Uhh. I am not sure I like these sorts of study questions, though I might well ask them anyway if I was teaching the whole play, since they do help assure student compliance in the reading assignment. The problem is that you can make the findings, mark them in your text, link them up so that the pattern becomes more visible, but then what do you have? Imagery is likely to be, first, an exciting, thrilling component of our experience in the theater. We aren't (necessarily) searching them out, but rather being shown these vivid glimpses of things that reach deep down--Then the blood belched from him with a strange barking sound (Hughes)--so that they become something like the opposite of decoration.
How can I not teach this next year? Well, I gotta remember, my students will find it pretty challenging, and I may have to spend too much time on the plot itself.