Allusion and Hamartia

I love older music, one song I happened to listen to this week was We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel. An old pop song, it is a wonderful landmark of past current-events.

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”
Eisenhower, vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye
Released in 1989, the world had seen major changes in just a few decades prior. Not only does Billy Joel allude to 3 presidencies, but also one of the most infamous: that of Richard Nixon’s. This large opening to the song, and other allusions adding up to the entirety of the tune minus its chorus, would be rather pointless if the audience did not know of the relationship held in his words. Marilyn Monroe would just be another Jane Doe, not the beloved cultural phenomenon. Relying heavily upon the connection of allusion, Billy Joel managed to produce a pop sensation.
In Crash Test Dummies’s Afternoons and Coffee Spoons there is the allusion of “coffeespoons and T. S. Elliot.” to the writer’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Crash Test Dummies is a less mainstream group, but quite catchy, I particularly like Mmm Mmm Mmm.
Achilles has one of the most striking hamartia in mythology. Immune to injury to the entirety of his body except for a small region at his ankle. The Greek hero is supposed to have been dipped in the River Styx, that leads to the Underworld, that gave him his pseudo-immortality. Unfortunately his mother happened to leave him vulnerable at one of the oddest places and most insecure places, far away from the core of the body and at a rather weak joint. According to lore, Achilles was shot with an arrow at his heel, killing him. While begging questions, this hamartia just serves as a plot device to move the story of Achilles along, after all how interesting could another demi-god be?
For Julius Caesar, his hamartia is that of the character Brutus, who ends up killing him in a twisted manner to help Rome.

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