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Gordian Plot

THIRTY-SIXTH SITUATION

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(A Kinsman Slam; a Kinsman Spectator; an Executioner)

Here all is mourning. In long funeral processions we see them pass, the heroes of this Situation; they move from the dark home to the dark church, and from there to the cemetery, returning only to weep by the hearth until they leave it on the departure of another from among them.

A (1)—Witnessing the Slaying of Kinsmen, While Powerless to Prevent it:—The "Niobe" and "Troilus" of iEschylus; "Polyxena" and "The Captives" of Sophocles ; a part of his "Laocoon;" "The Troades" of Euripides and of Seneca.

(2)—Helping to Bring Misfortune Upon Ones People Through Professional Secrecy:—"Les Baillonnes" (Mme. Terni, 1909).

B—Divining the Death of a Loved One:—"The Intruder" and "The Seven Princesses" by Maeterlinck, the one modern master of the Thirty-Sixth, and how powerful a one!

C—Learning of the Death of a Kinsman or Ally:— Part of the "Rhesus" attributed to Euripides; "Penthesilea," "Psychostase" and "The Death of Achilles" by iZEschylus; "The Ethiopians" of Sophocles. Here is added the difficult role of the messenger of misfortune—he who bends beneath the imprecations of Cleopatra, in Shakespeare. From comedy:—"Cent Lignes Emues" by Torquet.

D—Relapse into Primitive Baseness, through Despair on Learning of the Death of a Loved One:—"La Fille Sauvage" (Curel, 1902).

But embody, in a human figure, the wrong, the murder, which is abstract in most of these examples. Still bound by his helplessness, how the unfortunate who is made a spectator of the agony will struggle, appeal, and vainly implore the heavens—the Victim, meantime, humbly beseeching him who thus looks on in despair, as though he had power to save. The haughty sardonic silhouette of the Executioner dominates the scene, intensifying the keenness of the grief by his cynical pleasure in it . . . Dante has conceived of no sharper sorrow in the circles of his Inferno.

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