Zeus, who guided men to think,
who has laid it down that wisdom,
comes alone through suffering.
Still there drips in sleep against the heart
grief of memory; against
our pleasure we are temperate.
From the gods who sit in grandeur
grace comes somehow violent.
Aeschylus, trans. Lattimore, Agamemnon, ll. 176-183.
I first read that quote in “Franny and Zooey.” I think it went like this, there:
Even in our sleep, pain which we cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, against our will,
through the awful grace of God.
Apparently, Robert Kennedy used this quote on the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination, when informing the crowd he was speaking to in Indianapolis about the murder.
Fascinating… I had no idea that quote was connected with this particular week; the passage just struck me as I was reading Agamemnon the other day.
See? In 1968, it wasn’t considered “bad form” to use, in ordinary daily life and speaking, a literary reference from ancient Greece.
That came later.
Wait–you mean there was a time when shared cultural knowledge consisted of more than what was on tv that season? How peculiar…
Yes. Imagine that….
(And of course, video of this moment has now been posted on YouTube.
Here’s another, with the full context. Hard to believe, only two months later, he would be murdered, too.)