Denied To The Gods
I feel guilty. In seeing Amphitryon (version) 38, I am seeing, what is for me, Amphitryon (version) I. The other thirtyseven varieties of this famous brand, Greek. Latin, Italian or English, are entirely unknown to me, and I come to this worldly-wicked, fantastic, naughtynaughty frolic of contemporary mythology with at least a fresh mind. And I find it irresistible fun not meant for one second for serious consumption, and neither worthy nor in character for moral homilies.
The story is of a jealous god who fell in love with a mortal woman—one of his own creatures. The problem set is the difficulty of such a god as Jupiter to make acceptable love to such an utterly faithful wife as Alkmena. The solution is found by the subtle Jupiter, who, for purposes of wooing, assumes the only welcome shape to Alkmena—that of her husband, Amphitryon. But the final word is with the woman, Alkmena, who disposes all things according to her will—even the gods.
From such a display of smooth rhetorical fireworks as this translation from the French of M. Giraudoux provides, it is almost too dazzling for the mind's eye to discern any subtler philosophic depths in Amphitryon 38. The tremendous impression of high polished virtuosity of the inimitable Lunts (Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt) Makes it all the harder, too, to detach oneself from the pleasure of the comfortable, chuckling state into one of philosophic consideration.
But in spite of my remarks above that Amphitryon 38 must not be taken with solemnity, nevertheless it does whisper in undertones one big sermon—the importance of being mortal. Appreciation of the shifting moment, the satisfying pleasure of gradual maturity, the glory of choice between good and bad—all these things the gods have not. But we have.
Lyric. I. C.