The Anti-Theatrical Prejudice
I actually never realized that there was an anti-theatrical prejudice until Monday's class. I found the explanation of Plato's and Socrates' prejudices to be fascinating. However, I've never been one for philosophy, so I am not sure I completely understand Plato's and Socrates' prejudices against the theatre. So, I think I understand that Plato believes all forms of art to be imitations of reality. And imitations are sub-par to excellence - so in that case, would "excellence" be the gods? Is Plato saying that artists attempting to create a perfection that only the gods could achieve? Again, I struggled in my philosophy classes, so I have no idea if I am interpreting this correctly at all. Socrates' own prejudice seemed pretty similiar, except he says that viewers of art must have a philosophical understanding of it, because one's understanding will be ruined without that. So, is Socrates saying that philosophers, such as himself, are the only ones adept at understanding such works? It seems to me that, by saying this, Socrates, is putting himself above the average person. It is like he identifying more so with god than person.
I found it very interesting that pagan authors were very much in favor of the barbaric spectacles in the arena, while Christian authors were against them. I wonder if pagans who participated in these spectacles considered the end result to be a sacrifice to their gods. Weren't a lot of these spectacles just for entertainment? Like, betting if the lion or the gladiator would come out of the arena alive? Or maybe, pagans believed their gods deserved to be entertained, too?
What I find most interesting, and I never thought about until now, is the Christians' view of this. They believed these acts to be barbaric. These spectacles went against the idea of God as a creator. However, the God of the Old Testament depicted was a vengeful God. God was to be feared, and devout Christians were make sacrifices to Him. But the God of the New Testament was a loving father. When and why did the switch in the way Christians viewed God happened?
Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim
The contrast between Paganism and Christianity is also present in Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim's play. The very opening talks about Agape being married off. Agape is a Christian woman living in the time where paganism was the norm. On page 5 of the place, Diocletian calls Agape mad:
"Why, this above all, that you abandon the religion of your ancestors, leave its sacred rites, and follow in its stead this vain new Christian superstition."
Diocletian's frustrations with Agape leaving the religion of her ancestors is understandable. That is a problem that families today still have to deal with. But I am very curious as to why he considers Christianity to be "vain." I wonder if it comes from the fact that pagans worship multiple gods. Maybe Diocletian finds the worship of one individual being to be selfish on that god/God's part?
These sections from these three readings stuck out to me because I am very interested to learn more about pagans' views of Christianity. I hope that's something we discuss further during Monday's class.