Who is the ancient Greek hero?

A while back, one of my Instagram friends @maankawas, kindly requested I elaborate on civic identity and the Greek hero. At the time, I’d been encountering, in Roman scholarship, descriptions of the Greek hero as ‘fighting for himself.’ This ‘selfish’ Greek (and presumably always male) hero was then contrasted with the Roman hero who didContinue reading “Who is the ancient Greek hero?”

Some meditations on Meditations

“I myself am not yet harmed, unless I judge this occurrence something bad: and I can refuse to do so.” Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is perhaps the most intimate ancient text I’ve ever experienced. Reading it can at times feel almost intrusive, in particular in the moments when it feels most like a private journal thatContinue reading “Some meditations on Meditations”

What are Helen and Andromache weaving in the Iliad?

At two cosmically significant moments in the epic, the poet describes Helen and Andromache weaving diplaka porphyrein, a dark, gleaming, double-folded cloak: At Iliad 3.125-128:“[Iris] found [Helen] in a great room weaving on a great loom,A dark, gleaming, double-folded cloak. She was sprinkling into it the many contestsOf the Trojans, tamers of horses, and theContinue reading “What are Helen and Andromache weaving in the Iliad?”

Is ancient Greek verse “literature”?

Recently, I received a request to share a post about the figure of the hero in classical Greek thought. In order to do that, I realized, it may be helpful first to address an adjacent issue, which is this: What do we call ancient texts that have come down to us from (mostly) 5th andContinue reading “Is ancient Greek verse “literature”?”

Reception of Homer in Classical Athens

What is a place that you love to return to? One of mine is Delphi. This photo of the Athenian treasury at Delphi is from my last visit in Feb. 2020. It feels like a fitting image for what I’m thinking about today: reception of Homer in classical Athens. Something I’ve been thinking about forContinue reading “Reception of Homer in Classical Athens”

More Thoughts on Translation and Odyssey 1.1-9

“Any theoretical remarks offered by a translator are bound to be an apology for his failures. Obviously, no sane translator can allow himself to dream of success. He asks only for the best possible failure.” —John Ciardi, Translator’s note, The Divine Comedy As I have been working on rendering Homer in English, one of myContinue reading “More Thoughts on Translation and Odyssey 1.1-9”

Verse from a time of conquest

About this time last year, several media outlets reported on six lines of Greek poetic verse dating to around the 2nd century AD. These lines were inscribed on a gemstone that was found in the sarcophagus of a young girl who was wearing it at the time of her entombment: Λεγουσιν | They sayα θελουσινContinue reading “Verse from a time of conquest”