The civilization to be defended

September 21, 2001

Grenville Wall [ ]
Friday  21 September 2001, 06: BST

One of the very earliest jewels in the civilization the West wants to defend
against terrorism is The Oresteia by Aeschylus, first performed in 5th
century BC Athens. The action of this tragedy presents us with two
arguments. The first is that if we respond to terror and cruel injustice
with terror and "private" retaliation, the ensuing cycles of vengeance
threaten the whole community with destruction. The second is that this
destruction can only be averted if the determination and administration of
justice are taken out of private hands and made the responsibility of the
city as a whole. Aeschylus speaks to us even more urgently now that we live
in a global city in which we are all interdependent.

Grenville Wall

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