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September 22, 2005

Behind Hurricane Katrina: Catharsis and Torture

In the tragic aftermath of the recent natural disaster in New Orleans, my first thoughts are of the countless victims and their sufferings. One yearns to connect to a person, to a named individual. Instead we, as a nation, are left only with the personification of a storm and the beautiful name Katrina.

Aristotle The exact etymology of the name is disputed. The name may be related to that of the Greek goddess Hekate, best known (though somewhat inaccurately) to later history as the patron of witchcraft. Other possible origins of this name include the Greek verb "katharizein," meaning to purge or purify--the root of "catharsis." Aristotle considered this a major element of tragedy, a term frequently applied to what happened when Hurricane Katrina made landfall; "hekateros," meaning "each of two," and "aikia," meaning "torture."

Doubtless this last theory seems most apt for what the people of the Gulf Coast states have had to endure.

Posted by Diane Prange at September 22, 2005 11:00 AM
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