Aeschylus & Euripides: Vengeance, Justice, Pity

What is the opposite of vengeance? Aeschylus’ Oresteia and Euripides’ Orestes seem to engage this question via the narrative of Orestes, with what seem to be quite different results. Oresteia and Orestes were produced 50 years apart, in 458 and 408 BC respectively, at very different periods in Athenian history. Athens in 458 was ascending,Continue reading “Aeschylus & Euripides: Vengeance, Justice, Pity”

Book review: “Eros the bittersweet” by Anne Carson

How do we study something through fragmentary and partial remains? This latent question seems to pester scholars of antiquity like the horsefly sent to trouble Io. It seems also to animate Anne Carson’s method in “Eros the bittersweet,” a study of Eros and eros in ancient Greek poetry and philosophy and of the scholar studyingContinue reading “Book review: “Eros the bittersweet” by Anne Carson”

Book Review: “Daphnis and Chloe” by Longus

“When I was hunting in Lesbos, I saw, in a wood sacred to the Nymphs, the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen—a painting that told a love-story.” So begins the ancient Greek prose narrative of Daphnis and Chloe, attributed to Longus, who goes on to describe the beautiful painting that provoked “a longingContinue reading “Book Review: “Daphnis and Chloe” by Longus”

Book Review: “The Ingenious Language” by Andrea Marcolongo

“I am certain, however, that studying Greek helps you develop a talent for life, love, and hard work, for choosing to take responsibility for your successes and failures. It also helps you take pleasure in things, even when things aren’t all that perfect.” “The life of a language resides in the human beings who useContinue reading “Book Review: “The Ingenious Language” by Andrea Marcolongo”

How to frame the relationship between Greece and Rome?

“The Romans inherited the story-world of the Greeks’ myths, absorbing and expanding it with their own distinctly flavored narratives.” Last night, I started reading The Greek Myths: A New Retelling by Charlotte Higgins. I’ve only read the introduction and invocation of the Muses, but so far, the writing is lovely and lyrical. The theme HigginsContinue reading “How to frame the relationship between Greece and Rome?”

Book Review: Inventing Homer: The Early Reception of Epic by Barbara Graziosi

How do ancient sources represent the figure of Homer? This question launches Graziosi’s study, which reaches back to the sixth and fourth centuries BC, cataloguing how ancient sources describe, debate, and imagine the poet “Homer.” The book is divided into six chapters, each tackling a different issue around Homer: his birth, name and place ofContinue reading “Book Review: Inventing Homer: The Early Reception of Epic by Barbara Graziosi”

Book Review: “All that You’ve Seen Here is God” by Bryan Doerries

“All That You’ve Seen Here is God” is a collection of four ancient Athenian tragedies—Prometheus Bound and Sophocles’ Ajax, Philoctetes, and Women of Trachis—translated and introduced by Bryan Doerries. In addition to being a translator, Doerries is a writer and director who founded Theater of War and co-founded Outside the Wire. Both are theater projectsContinue reading “Book Review: “All that You’ve Seen Here is God” by Bryan Doerries”

Book Review: “Thucydides: On Justice, Power, and Human Nature” by Paul Woodruff

One of my current work projects is this collection of selected passages from Thucydides, summarized and translated by Woodruff. It is not a scholarly work in the traditional sense, featuring a stated thesis, supported by analysis of evidence. The scholarship lies in the curation and translations, which present an argument about what Thucydides’ preoccupations andContinue reading “Book Review: “Thucydides: On Justice, Power, and Human Nature” by Paul Woodruff”

Why does war continue?

Among the extant complete (ish) plays of Euripides, five (Bacchae, Alcestis, Medea, Andromache, and Helen) feature these lines in the Chorus’ final stanza: «πολλαι μορφαι των δαιμονιων,πολλα δ’αελπτως κραινουσι θεοι» “many are the forms of superhuman forces,gods bring to pass many unexpected things” In Euripides, as in Homer, we are constantly confronted, within their narrativesContinue reading “Why does war continue?”

Book Review: “The Power of Thetis and Selected Essays” by Laura Slatkin

“The task of hearing as Homer’s audience did requires the apparently paradoxical task of listening for what is unspoken.” Originally published in 1992 and reprinted in 2011 with six essays, The Power of Thetis explores the ways the Iliad engages, via the relationship between Thetis, Achilles, and Zeus, a traditional motif—goddesses who seek immortality forContinue reading “Book Review: “The Power of Thetis and Selected Essays” by Laura Slatkin”