THE STORY: (54 minutes) A queen is visited by a terrifying nightmare. Priests discern what the nightmare means. And a king is faced with a soul-wrenching dilemma: “do I kill my child, or allow my city to burn?” And the king’s decision …? Well, you’ll have to listen in to see how that turns out.
THE COMMENTARY: FATE VS. FREE WILL (18 minutes; begins at 54:00) In this episode of post-story commentary I explore the role of “Fate” in the Trojan War epic. I observe that most of us listening to this podcast (in the 21st century) like to believe that we have some sort of control or agency over our lives. We like to believe that we each have, to a large degree, freedom to choose how our lives will transpire – sort of like being the authors of our own “choose your own adventure” lives. I contrast this belief with the understanding of Bronze Age Greek culture (where our epic story takes place). These people did not believe in agency or free will (except in minor day to day questions, like “will I have fish or lamb for dinner this evening?”). But on the big questions of how one’s life – one’s “adventure” if you will – was going to unfold, well, the Bronze Age Greeks did not believe in free will. Rather, each person (and possibly even the Olympian gods too) was subject to an unavoidable fate or destiny. I cite the famous story of Oedipus to illustrate how this inexorable fate would have been understood by the characters in our story. And I conclude by exploring how the people that we are going to meet in this awesome epic still managed to find meaning, dignity and purpose in a universe governed by Fate. I think you will find the conversation educational, but mostly just a lot of FUN!