From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The word Agonistes (pron.: //), found as an epithet following a person's name, means “the struggler” or “the combatant.” It is most often an allusion to John Milton’s 1671 verse tragedy Samson Agonistes, which recounts the end of Samson's life, when he is a blind captive of the Philistines, described as being “Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves”. The struggle thatSamson Agonistes centres upon is the effort of Samson to renew his faith in God’s support. E. H. Visiak wrote a study of Milton titled Milton Agonistes.
Etymology and pronunciation
|Look up agonistes in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
The word “agonistes” is a borrowing from Greek “agōnistēs” (ἀγωνιστής), where it means “someone who struggles for a cause”. The same Greek word has given rise to English “agonist” (including the forms “protagonist” and “antagonist”). This word is derived from “agōn” (ἀγών) meaning a struggle, contest or assembly. In English, “agon” usually refers to the conflict between the main characters in a literary or artistic work. Another related word is “agony”, which originally referred to mental struggle.
As in Greek, the word “agonistes” is four syllables long.
Probably the most famous post-Miltonic use of “Agonistes” is by T. S. Eliot, who titled one of his dramas Sweeney Agonistes, where Sweeney, who appeared in several of Eliot's poems, represents the materialistic and shallow modern man. Another well-known example is Garry Wills' 1969 political book Nixon Agonistes, discussing embattled President Richard Nixon. Today, the word occasionally appears in headlines in a similar fashion, e.g., Rumsfeld Agonistes, George W. Agonistes. Also, the term Gore Agonistes was used to describe Vice President Albert Gore's struggle during this 2000 Election recount imbroglio.