THE WRITERS WHO HAVE COMPILED A HISTORY OF THE PHILOSOPHERS

"Orpheus"shows Cocteau's taste for magic and enchantment; he uses simple but dramaticspecial effects and trick shots to show his characters passing into the worldof death by stepping through mirrors, and when he wants a character to spring backto life, he simply runs the film backward. He weaves his effects so lightlyinto the story that after a time they aren't tricks at all, but simply theconditions of his mythical world.

Tennessee Williams' play "Orpheus descending" - an ..

tennessee williams play orpheus descending an ..

This much, then, I place on record, and am aware that some things have perhaps escaped me, but other things have not. And in that, after expending much thought and pains so that the result might be a continuous and definite account of the lives of the most celebrated philosophers and rhetoricians, I fell short of my ambition, I have had the same experience as those who are madly and feverishly in love. For they, when they behold the beloved and the adored beauty of her visible countenance, bow their heads, too weak to fix their gaze on that which they desire, and dazzled by its rays. But if they see her sandal or chain or ear-ring, they take heart from these and pour their souls into the sight and melt at the vision, since they can endure to see and love the symbols of beauty more easily than the beauty itself; thus too I have set out to write this narrative in such a way as not to omit in silence and through envy anything that I learned by hearsay, or by reading, or by inquiry from men of my own time, but, as far as in me lay, I reverenced the entrance and gates of truth and have handed it down to future generations who may either wish to hear thereof or have power to follow with a view to the fairest achievement. Now the period I describe is somewhat interrupted and broken up by reason of the calamities of the State. Still a third crop of men began with the days of Claudius and Nero (for the second which came next after Plato has been commemorated and made clear to all). As for those unlucky Emperors who lasted for a year only, they are not worthy of record; I mean, for example, Galba, Vitellius, Otho, and, following them, Vespasian, Titus and those who ruled after these men; and no one must suppose that I pay serious attention to them. Anyhow, to speak cursorily and in brief, the tribe of the best philosophers lasted on even into the reign of Severus. And surely this is part of the felicity that belongs to emperors, that in history the date which marks the superlative virtue of a philosopher is that which dates the superlative luck of an emperor. Therefore let no one take it amiss if I, recording as I do the period for which it was possible for me to obtain evidence, or with which I could make an appropriate beginning, embark on my narrative at this point.

Orpheus Descending is a play by Tennessee Williams

Hisstory begins in the Poet's Cafe in Paris, where a famous middle-aged poet namedOrpheus () is scorned by younger poets who want to displace him. Abrawl breaks out, and a young rival named Cegeste (Edouard Dermit) is struckdown. A Rolls-Royce materializes, and its owner, a striking princess (MariaCasares), orders her chauffeur to put the young man in the back seat. Then sheorders Orpheus to come along "as a witness," although their routetakes them not to the hospital but into a cloudy shadowland that eventuallybecomes the underworld.

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Having discussed with Hermogenes the single point of the origin of the soul, so far as his assumption led me, that the soul consisted rather in an adaptation of matter than of the inspiration of God, I now turn to the other questions incidental to the subject; and (in my treatment of these) I shall evidently have mostly to contend with the philosophers. In the very prison of Socrates they skirmished about the state of the soul. I have my doubts at once whether the time was an opportune one for their (great) master-(to say nothing of the place), although perhaps does not much matter. For what could the soul of Socrates then contemplate with clearness and serenity? The sacred ship had returned (from Delos), the hemlock draft to which he had been condemned had been drunk, death was now present before him: (his mind) was, as one may suppose, naturally excited at every emotion; or if nature had lost her influence, it must have been deprived of all power of thought. Or let it have been as placid and tranquil so you please, inflexible, in spite of the claims of natural duty, at the tears of her who was so soon to be his widow, and at the sight of his thenceforward orphan children, yet his soul must have been moved even by its very efforts to suppress emotion; and his constancy itself must have been shaken, as he struggled against the disturbance of the excitement around him. Besides, what other thoughts could any man entertain who had been unjustly condemned to die, but such as should solace him for the injury done to him? Especially would this be the case with that glorious creature, the philosopher, to whom injurious treatment would not suggest a craving for consolation, but rather the feeling of resentment and indignation. Accordingly, after his sentence, when his wife came to him with her effeminate cry, O Socrates, you are unjustly condemned! he seemed already to find joy in answering, Would you then wish me justly condemned? It is therefore not to be wondered at, if even in his prison, from a desire to break the foul hands of Anytus and Melitus, he, in the face of death itself, asserts the immortality of the soul by a strong assumption such as was wanted to frustrate the wrong (they had inflicted upon him). So that all the wisdom of Socrates, at that moment, proceeded from the affectation of an assumed composure, rather than the firm conviction of ascertained truth. For by whom has truth ever been discovered without God? By whom has God ever been found without Christ? By whom has Christ ever been explored without the Holy Spirit? By whom has the Holy Spirit ever been attained without the mysterious gift of faith? Socrates, as none can doubt, was actuated by a different spirit. For they say that a demon clave to him from his boyhood-the very worst teacher certainly, notwithstanding the high place assigned to it by poets and philosophers-even next to, (nay, along with) the gods themselves. The teachings of the power of Christ had not yet been given-(that power) which alone can confute this most pernicious influence of evil that has nothing good in it, but is rather the author of all error, and the seducer from all truth. Now if Socrates was pronounced the wisest of men by the oracle of the Pythian demon, which, you may be sure, neatly managed the business for his friend, of how much greater dignity and constancy is the assertion of the Christian wisdom, before the very breath of which the whole host of demons is scattered! This wisdom of the school of heaven frankly and without reserve denies the gods of this world, and shows no such inconsistency as to order a "cock to be sacrificed to Aesculapius: " no new gods and demons does it introduce, but expels the old ones; it corrupts not youth, but instructs them in all goodness and moderation; and so it bears the unjust condemnation not of one city only, but of all the world, in the cause of that truth which incurs indeed the greater hatred in proportion to its fulness: so that it tastes death not out of a (poisoned) cup almost in the way of jollity; but it exhausts it in every kind of bitter cruelty, on gibbets and in holocausts. Meanwhile, in the still gloomier prison of the world amongst your Cebeses and Phaedos, in every investigation concerning (man's) soul, it directs its inquiry according to the rules of God. At all events, you can show us no more powerful expounder of the soul than the Author thereof. From God you may learn about that which you hold of God; but from none else will you get this knowledge, if you get it not from God. For who is to reveal that which God has hidden? To that quarter must we resort in our inquiries whence we are most safe even in deriving our ignorance. For it is really better for us not to know a thing, because He has not revealed it to us, than to know it according to man's wisdom, because has been bold enough to assume it.

Nina Stemme « Reviews by Josmar Lopes

"Orpheus" is a Greek myth about a musician whodescends into the underworld to reclaim his dead wife, and so enchants the godswith the music of his lyre that they permit her to return to the land of theliving--on the condition that he never look at her. Jean Cocteau set his 1949film of the story in modern-day Paris, and added twists that would havestartled the Greeks, especially a romantic triangle with Death as the thirdpartner.

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"Orpheus"became famous for its use of two leather-clad motorcyclists as the errand boysof death; their costumes, especially the high boots and leather corsets, edgedinto fetishism, and the Princess, arrogantly asking death's tribunal if she maysmoke, is from the same image pool. Orpheus was played by the handsome JeanMarais (in real life, Cocteau's lover). Moviegoers in 1949 could find parallelsbetween his career and the poet he was playing; both were famous at an earlyage, both were associated with important work (Marais as the Beast in Cocteau's1946 masterpiece ""), and both were keenly awareof a new generation snapping at their heels.