Tragedy and History in Reinhold Niebuhr's Thought

Abstract
Reinhold Niebuhr begins an essay he wrote for The Nation in 1938 by noting that "one of the recurring motifs of Greek tragedy is the hero's deeper involvement in his own fate through his very efforts to extricate himself from it."1 Niebuhr calls this "abundant proof of the profound insight [of the Greek dramatists] into human tragedy" and suggests that "they were [in fact] not writing melodrama but were interpreting history."2 The essay was occasioned by Niebuhr's deep distaste for the unwillingness of democratic nations of the West to challenge the increasingly aggressive posturing of the axis powers in the years leading up to the second World War. The war they seek to avoid, Niebuhr (as it turns out, correctly) ..
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