It's a tragedy, sure, but Shakespearean or Greek?

Shakespeare, Spitzer, Aeschylus

Shakespeare, Spitzer, Aeschylus

Sure, the story of Eliot Spitzer spitzering himself is tragic, but no self-respecting journalist would just leave it at that. Simple "tragedy" is never enough... it has to be some kind of tragedy. And, of course, the two go-to categories for tragedy are Shakespearean and Greek.

Both have gotten a fair share of use this week. Maureen Dowd can always be counted on for a Shakespeare reference, but she wasn't alone. As for the Greek treatment, USA Today has helpfully compiled examples.

OK, but which is it? If you're going to take the time to sound like a cultural elite, you might as well be right. So we checked with an expert.

Martha Rozett is a professor of English at U Albany. She specializes in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature. She was nice enough to take up our question:

Well, one of the key elements in Greek tragedy and epic is the concept of hubris, or excessive pride and arrogance, including defiance of fate or the gods, leading to the character's downfall. When English tragedy was reinvented in the early modern period, it was sometimes described in terms of the fall of a great man, sometimes a king or world leader, from a high position, partly as a consequence of his own actions. When I teach Shakespeare I try to get students to stop thinking of tragic "flaws" and think instead of tragic errors or mistakes. Spitzer made a mistake, alright, but was it tragic? Perhaps it was for his wife and followers, who might evoke our sympathy, but I don't think anyone is sympathizing with him in the way we do with King Lear or Othello or Richard II or Brutus or Antony. For that reason, the Shakespeare connection is a little harder to make (though with Patrick Stewart playing Macbeth to much acclaim in NYC right now, I wouldn't be surprised if someone made the analogy).

So, it's Greek. Now you know.

(Thanks, Martha!)

Comments

You guys think of the greatest topics for cocktail party conversation.
Kathleen Lisson

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Gawking at the new Schenectady train station

In a bit of a surprise the new Schenectady train station opened this past Wednesday, a few weeks ahead of the announced schedule. The $23... (more)

A little push up the hill

Wrapped into my update this past week about what it's been like to use a bike as one of my primary ways of getting around... (more)

A collection of castle day trips

This part of the country is dotted with castle-like structures, full of history, mystery, romance, and fairytale. Here's a handful of castles that are within... (more)

Classics of Science Fiction at The Linda

A multi-day get-together called Classics of Science Fiction will be at The Linda in Albany November 1-4. Blurbage: Guests include authors, artists, podcasters, cosplayers, business... (more)

Cuomo leads in Q-poll, NTSB still hasn't examined limo from deadly Schoharie crash, Schenectady and GE

Q-poll shows Cuomo with strong lead The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Andrew Cuomo with a 23-percentage point lead over Republican challenger Marc Molinaro. [Spectrum]... (more)

Recent Comments

I ride every day to work, and also after work for exercise. I love the concept of being a person who happens to ride a bike. There's a level of bike riding, with the high performance gear and sleek clothing, that makes riding seem like its not for everyone. I try to avoid markers like that, and always wear regular clothing/shoes/backpack with dumpy-looking bike. One concession is bike gloves.

A little push up the hill

...has 1 comment, most recently from Danny C

Today's moment of mural

...has 3 comments, most recently from Rich

A year later I'm still using a bike to get around town -- here are a few thoughts about how that's worked out

...has 13 comments, most recently from Randal Putnam

It's looking like it could be a relatively warm winter. Probably.

...has 2 comments, most recently from Jeff D

Now is a good time to get a flu shot

...has 5 comments, most recently from Beck