I’ve recently re-read the plays of Sophocles. Paul Roche translated the Signet version. This translator has also ably translated Ten Plays of Euripedes and The Complete Plays of Aristophanes. (Euripedes counts as my favorite of the three Athenian Tragedians, by the way–which puts me in the minority for sure!) The Ancient Greek proverbs and ideals come across in an authentic manner even though the prose is written in good, modern English. While reading the play this time, I was impressed with the notion of hubris leading to a fall and how hubris is punished by the gods. But, my interpretation of how Sophocles understanding of hubris evolves over the course of his plays would not have occurred to me if not for a particular conversation with a friend of mine.
In that conversation, I opined that people have forgotten that God punishes people for pride. My friend responded that if God really punished people for pride, we would all be dead. This struck me as a profound insight. Indeed, is God under any especial necessity to punish people for pride? Pride, like the other capital sins, carries its own punishment with it. Pride distorts our view of ourselves, which in turn hinders us in our interactions with the real world. Socrates made the foundation of philosophy, the love of wisdom, to know oneself. If we don’t know ourselves, we fail countless times, wound ourselves, and vex the people around us such that we drive them away. What is more offensive than arrogance? What could be a worse affliction in and of itself?