Friday, October 24, 2008

Achilles and Patroclus in Austria

Geoff Coupe has asked "Mrs Wood" to comment on the Jörg Haider saga. Why he deems her of all people qualified to do so, is beyond me. She's a real girl, after all, and unfamiliar with the antics of those still in, or half out of their various closets.

Having said that, Mrs Wood doesn't believe for a second that anything serious was going on between Haider and his blonde lapdog Stefan Petzner. The "special relationship" that has become the latter's nauseating mantra (see Dale's comment here) seems to have been more akin to the drooling kind of total adoration that Nazi- and Neo-Nazi leaders have always expected from their abject underlings.

What the whole affair has affirmed once again, too, is the wise old adage that there really is nothing new under the sun. Remember the Iliad, more specifically the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus depicted there? Another purportedly homosexual couple - though scholars beg to differ on the quality of their relationship, most of them claiming that the two mythical men were really "just" martial buddies.

Now here's Mrs Wood's mythopoeic interpretation of the Austrian situation: Stefan Petzner is the pitiful Achilles - all heel and no knickers - weeping his eyes out over the body of Haider-Patroclus, not only during the latter's funeral, but also in an interview with Krone-TV (the excrescent appendix of Neue Kronen Zeitung - the Austrian equivalent of Bild or The Sun).

Go on, watch it! It's about as slurry as Kerry Katona's recent embarrassment.

And just as in Homer's epic, a conflict has emerged over the body of the hero killed in action, as Frau Haider plans to drag her husband's corpse off to Italy for yet another post mortem. To prove that Haider's sudden death was a case of foul play. As if the man wasn't already martyr enough!

For an aptly dismissive depiction of the Achilles-Patroclus relationship, see Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, I.iii., where we find the image of a "large Achilles, on his pressed bed lolling" and of Patroclus, similarly lounging "Upon a lazy bed, the livelong day/Break [ing] scurril jests." You can just see Haider and Petzner enacting the scene, can't you?

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