The Fall was a tragedy: a conflict of irreconcilable cosmic and moral imperatives, binding upon all the actors, that can find its final resolution only at final consummation of the eschaton, when Christ shall be all in all, and Lucifer and his minions damned forever in virtue of their own incorrigible permanent decision.
What can we learn from this about the dramatic form of tragedy? What, then, do we learn about drama in general? Tragedy is both root and summit of drama, and its apotheosis. Comedy is a type of tragedy; it is tragedy writ small, and only trivially injurious (it is funny when Buster Keaton falls down; it would not be funny if he fell upon a spike and bled there to death, pinned and writhing).
The pitiless cruel fate of Greek tragedy is the inexorable logic of theological metaphysics. That logic is mysterious, and so apparently arbitrary, ergo capricious and fundamentally unjust, only on ignorance of theology and of metaphysics. Once you get the theological metaphysics, the dooms of Oedipus, of Prometheus and of the Argives are all no more than foregone conclusions. Given what they had all elected freely to do, nothing else could possibly have happened. What is more, on a proper understanding of theological metaphysics, their mundane dooms do not then spell the ultimate ends of any of the protagonists of those tragedies, or for that matter of their antagonists. On theological metaphysics, all shortcomings in the mundane lives both of protagonists and of their antagonists are at the eschaton made up, and reconciled, and healed, and indeed transfigured into exquisite beauties – provided that they themselves rise and humble themselves to allow and enable and accept their redemption and rescue.
Tragedy is tragic then only on the mundane perspective. On the transmundane perspective – on, that is to say, the correct perspective – mundane tragedy is a story of transmundane triumph, and of everlasting solace, and indeed of rejoicing. As actors all gather for a dram or a pint after a successful production, so shall we all – with Oedipus and Agamemnon, with David and Saul, gather all together at Valhalla, again and yet again. There shall we reenact our play, again and again, and then at each daily evening of all things again rise and rejoice together, and laugh at the absurdity inherent in conflict per se.
Tragedy after all is conflict of goods. On omniscience, and indeed on mere logical coherence, there can in the final, ultimate analysis be no such thing as conflict of goods – as, likewise, there can be no conflict of truths, or aye therefore also of beauties. All goods are reconciled necessarily in the Good himself. Nothing else is possible.
Tragedy is painful then only insofar as we find ourselves unable to transcend our mundane perspective. But the whole rhetorical point of dramatic tragedy is to engender that transcendence. Drama per se wants us to rise above our quotidian predicaments, with all their harrowing desperate tragic aspects, so that we can understand them under the terms of the everlasting triumph that necessarily awaits all goodness.
Drama then wants to encourage us. It wants us to confront our predicaments squarely, honestly, and rightly, and so to transcend them – and, so, to meet them more capably. And so it more or less succeeds in doing. This is why we seek it out. Drama settles our guts for the coming fight, and consoles us. The coming fight looms before us all, always. So drama is to us all ever useful, and generative, and regenerative.
This is why thespians suffer and travail in order to play for nothing to soldiers at the front line. To what other audience could their magic be so salient, or so important? What, indeed, could be more angelic to a young man in the trenches than the vision of a beautiful girl? What could be more encouraging to him, than the portrayal of an heroic man – even, perhaps especially, a tragic hero such as Oedipus, or aye as Achilles, or a fortiori as Hector?
Hector is I think the archetypal hero. He gives his life for his people, to overwhelming, unsurpassable Death.
Is all drama about that sort of sacrifice, when push comes to shove? Not just tragedy, but drama per se? I do not know enough about theater to have an opinion on the matter. But I would not be surprised to find that it was so. Greek theater began, after all, as a sacrificial ritual.