Classical Courts

In a strange bit of synchronicity, my spiders this week seem to have found several examples of the Classical World making appearances in American courtrooms. Earlier this week we mentioned a decision wherein justices decided (while citing Robert Fagles!) that  translation is not interpretation (Honored Justices, We Respectfully Disagree). Next, they brought back an abridged version of some legal paper involving Prometheus Labs, which appropriately opened thusly:

Then beneath the earth those hidden blessings for man, bronze, iron, silver and gold—who can claim to have discovered before me? No one, I am sure, who wants to speak to the purpose. In one short sentence understand it all: every art of mankind comes from Prometheus.

—Aeschylus (generally attributed) 1

On July 29, 2011, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit handed down the long-awaited decision in Association of Molecular Pathology v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (AMP v. USPTO or Myriad I) 2 upholding the patentability of claims on isolated human genes 3 in a 2–1 decision that has provoked a petition to rehear the case en banc, 4 which was denied. 5 Subsequently, a Supreme Court petition for certiorari was filed, 6 which the high court recently granted, vacated, and remanded (GVRed) in Ass’n of Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. (Myriad II) 7 in light of their recent decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. (Prometheus). 8 […]

Then this morning, the incipit of an opinion piece in the Inquirer (not sure which one):

In every telling of Trojan War stories from Homer to Hollywood, Agamemnon is depicted as a jerk: cruel, small-minded and rude. That should have made him an inconsequential character in a saga of heroic mortals and spiteful gods but for the awesome power of his position as supreme commander of the Greek armies. It’s his hubris—plain yabang—that is a companion vice to small minds, that drives the narrative of that magnificent tale.

He takes as war prize the daughter of Apollo’s priest in Troy so the god sends a plague to his armies. He returns her to her father and takes for himself the war prize of his greatest warrior, the half-god Achilles, who then refuses to fight anymore so the Trojans keep kicking their butt in battle after battle. Even before his armies sail for Troy, he slays a sacred stag and boasts that he is a better hunter than Artemis, so the goddess withdraws the winds from the seas, disabling their thousand ships.

To appease Artemis, Agamemnon slays his own daughter in sacrifice.

It’s mind-boggling how awful the suffering can be when brought on by awesome power in the hands of a jerk. But it’s also heartwarming that such suffering can bring out the valor in mortals: in the warriors Ajax and Diomedes and Patroclus, of course, but more so, if also heartrending, in the jerk’s own daughter, Iphigenia.

She is summoned by Agamemnon on the pretext of being wed to Achilles. When she discovers the deception, she agrees to die by his hand at the altar of the goddess he has offended. To save him from the wrath of his own generals, whose quest to redeem the honor of Greece is being frustrated by his transgression. To save Achilles, whose own sense of honor compels him to protect her to the death. And for the honor of Greece: “I forbid you to shed tears. I come to bring the Greeks salvation and victory,” she says to her mother in Euripides’ scintillating play, “Iphigenia at Aulis.”

Such is the nobility of the daughter of a jerk.

A week or so ago, in the saga titled “Chief Justice on Trial,” I think I saw Iphigenia’s valor in the defendant’s daughter, Carla Corona-Castillo. Quezon City Sheriff Joseph Bisnar, a witness Corona’s lawyers presented in his defense, declared under oath that she had acquired 90-percent ownership of a corporation established by relatives on her mother’s side. In an auction conducted nine years ago, with her as the only bidder, of shares owned by the surviving heirs, her own cousins, who only learned about it from Bisnar’s testimony. Her winning bid was P28,000. At the time of the transaction, the corporation had over P34 million in cash—proceeds from the sale of a property her great grandparents had acquired and bequeathed to ALL their children. […]

Not sure why there’s been this sudden ‘outburst’ of Classicalia in the courts … maybe my spiders have just suddenly woken up to its existence?

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