Piety And Censorship In Plato And Aeschylus 'Eumenides'

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Piety and Censorship A major debate in the age of Plato and Aeschylus is whether or not piety should be considered a component of the definition of justice. Aeschylus 's Eumenides centers around the conflict between the old view of justice and piety being intertwined, represented by the Furies, and the new view of justice, where the relationship between the gods and the Athenian people plays a less significant role, represented by Apollo and Athena. Both of Plato 's works, Euthyphro and The Republic, deal with the question of what role this relationship should play; Plato 's apparent belief is that piety should be insignificant in an ideally just city, and therefore, strict censorship of old literature regarding the gods is necessary to maintain …show more content…
Fate, the idea that one has a predetermined future, plays a major role in this reality. Gods have a tremendous influence over humans and play with their lives like a game of chess. In fact, without the gods, men are believed to lack knowledge and the power of decision. The testimony of a god makes something true, and consequently, piety is momentously important; what the gods say and do are thought to be correct and able to be used as models for moral action. Purging and "houses ridden by a curse" are also common (Aeschylus 203, 553). Orestes ' entire family is plagued by a curse; his entire family, from Tantalus to Agamemnon, has been tortured throughout history with a cycle of killings that are justified with the excuse of bringing justice to the previous victim (Aeschylus 279). Because of the curse, doing the right thing brings punishment to those involved. By way of example, the Furies, gods of retribution, seek vengeance on Orestes for murdering Clytaemnestra: "...and from the outraged dead we rise, witness bound to avenge their blood we rise in flames against him to the end!" (Aeschylus 245, 318-320). Due to the relevance of fate, and curses, and purging, the definitions of virtue and piety are not as straightforward many believe them to be. Piety is bound by divine commands. Virtue, by the same token, is not similar in any way to how Socrates defines it; moderation, wisdom, …show more content…
Socrates, in the Republic, looks at the stories about the about the gods as "lies" and that these lies are not "fine ones" (Plato 55, 377d). He comes to this conclusion after making the assumption that gods are ideal beings when he states, "Now, the god and what belongs to the god are in every way in the best condition" (Plato 59, 381b). He explains that Homer 's story about Zeus and Agamemnon, as well as the story about Zeus and Leda, must be false because, he argues, perfect beings would not "voluntarily wish to lie about the most sovereign things to what is most sovereign in himself" (Plato 60, 382a). Athens has changed since the time of Orestes; no longer do curses, purging, and fate play such meaningful roles in society. Now, in order for the gods to be gods they must act justly and virtuously, not with the imperfect human qualities that so many authors had given

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