Postscript: Homer, Shakespeare, and the Conflict of Values

John Casey

in Pagan Virtue

Published in print October 1991 | ISBN: 9780198240037
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680069 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Postscript: Homer, Shakespeare, and the Conflict of Values

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This chapter discusses the history of Lear criticism. King Lear is someone who was once proud, but whose pride has, with age and flattery, degenerated into childish vanity and irascibility. It also states part of the greatness of King Lear lies in what, ethically speaking, could be regarded as confusion. It makes use, opportunistically, of some of the most potent images and emotions in our culture — the humbling of pride, the survival of love, finding oneself through losing oneself, redemption. At the same time, and even as a condition of the power to move us of such things, there is in the background a recognition of the good of ‘noble rage’, of outrage at ingratitude, of horror at the comprehensive defeat of manhood. It has been a theme implicit in this book that we inherit a confused system of values; that when we think most rigorously and realistically we are ‘pagans’ in ethics, but that our Christian inheritance only allows a fitful sincerity about this. It would therefore be wrong to assume that any thorough return to ‘pagan’ ways of thinking about ethics is being suggested.

Keywords: Lear criticism; King Lear; noble rage; manhood; pagans; Christian inheritance

Chapter.  6194 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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