HAMLET AND ORESTES Essay

07

1

THE BRITISH SCHOOL

THE GROSS ANNUAL SHAKESPEARE SPIEL

1914

Hamlet and Orestes

A

Research

in Classic

Types

By simply

Gilbert Murray, LL. Deb., D. Litt.

Regius Mentor of Traditional in the College or university of Oxford

Fellow from the

Academy

New york city

Oxford School Press American Branch

35 West 32nd Street

Birmingham

:

Humphrey Milford

THE UNITED KINGDOM ACADEMY

THE ANNUAL SHAKESPEARE LECTURE

1914

Hamlet and Orestes

A

Study

in Traditional

Types

By

Gilbert Murray, LL. D., G. Litt.

Regius Professor of Greek inside the University of Oxford

Fellow of the Academy

New York

Oxford University Press American Part

35 Western world 32nd Street

London

:

Humphrey Milford

Copyright in the United States of America

by the Oxford College or university Press

American Branch

1914

CU387143

MARCH 22 1914

ANNUAL SHAKESPEARE LECTURE,

1914

HAMLET AND ORESTES

A STUDY IN TRADITIONAL TYPES

By Gilbert Murray, LL. G.,

D. Litt.

FELLOW FROM THE ACADEMY

People,

I i am no Shakespearian scholar

its

and

if perhaps

I have embarked, at the

to simply accept the risky honour of deliv-

Senior high,

Annual William shakespeare Lecture

invitation of the

ering

;

in sequence to academics,

whose specialist on this subject matter is

much larger than mine, it is to get a definite explanation. In studying the general advancement Tragedy, Greek, English, French and

Mediaeval Latin, I have found myself haunted by a inquisitive problem, difficult to state in exact conditions and perhaps not possible to answer, which I should very much like to place before a group such as this. This concerns the interaction of two elements in Literature, and especially in Drama, a very simple and in-born kind of materials I mean the 2 elements of tradition and technology, or the subconscious and the mindful. The problem has been raised in three quite recent discussion posts: I mention them in

chronological order. My own note on the Ritual Forms in Greeh Tragedy, printed in Miss Harrison's Themis; Mr. F. Meters. Cornford's publication on the Beginning of Loft Comedy; and a span of lectures presented at Oxford by Miss Spens of Lady Margaret Hall

and

in the occurrence of guests,

:

on The Scapegoat in Disaster, which I wish to see published next year.

I actually am certainly not proposing to-night to argue in preference of the

theories

propounded

any of these

in

treatises.

I

i am

rather con-

sidering, in a single salient illustration, a large problem which appears to As for my own, personal tentative solution,

underlie them.

I will only mention that

A single

friend features assured

this

me

has brought in exclusive two criticisms.

knew it before another

that every a single

;

has observed that most discovered men, at some point, go a

little

:

ANNUAL SHAKESPEARE SPIEL,

4

mad on several

subject or other, and this I

i am

1914

almost the right

age to begin.

My personal subject is definitely the study of two wonderful tragic heroes, Hamlet and Orestes, viewed as Traditional Types. I do certainly not compare get play, although simply persona with personality, though for the duration of the evaluation I shall of course consider the conditions in which my personal heroes are put, and the different persons with whom they are associated.

Orestes in Ancient greek language

occurs in

poem

is definitely

very evidently a traditional personality.

He

after poem, in tragedy after tragedy, various

slightly in each a single but often true to type.

He

is usually,

I think, the

most central and standard tragic main character on the Greek stage; and he ^eight if we

happens in at least seven of our extant tragedies

count the Iphigenia in Aulis, in which he is a child whereas

Oedipus, for instance, just comes in 3 and Agamemnon in

—

—

several.

I shall use these seven performs as materials

:

viz.

Aeschylus,

Choephori and Eumenides; Sophocles, Electra; and Euripides,

And

Electra, Orestes, Iphigenia in Tauris, and Andromache.

just before any of these...

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