Deinon Posted on June 22, 2015 by jkcohen The world’s terrors are without number, but none is more terrible than man.
Polla ta deina– Sophocles didn’t actually say “numberless,” just “many.” Which is enough to worry about.
And deinon: ok, “terrors,” if we make sure the word carries the side meaning of “a handful,” as in “he’s a terror” (said of a two-year-old). A thing that is “deinon” is something that makes you feel you don’t know what it will do next: something uncontrollable and therefore powerful. Socrates was blamed for being “deinos legein,” “a hell of a handful once he starts talking,” and that was a clever if stupid strategy by the prosecution because it ensured that more than half the audience would have their ears stopped up. It has been used against me on one of my few visits to a law court. So in sum I would say, “terror” doesn’t convey the faint hint of respect that goes with the rejection. Humans are astonishing (another meaning of deinon), but you don’t want to be alone in a room with them.
Imperfect remembrance of Richard Garner’s class back in the day. But there is a certain wonderment in man as terror — it is a wonder how can he come up with such convoluted reasoning and justifications for such terrible acts.I think of the legislators in S. Carolina who spent most of their time on the flag debate urging that the Confederate flag should be taken down so that a more obscure Confederate flag, equally meaningful to them but, they hoped, less meaningful to others, could be put in its place.