What is Penelope wondering about?

Lately, I have been reading about the web of associations among weaving, oral poetry, and rituals (festival and funeral) in ancient Greece, as traced across vase images, Homeric narrative, and the structure of language. These associations are so intricate that it has been a struggle to wrap my head around it. It makes me wonderContinue reading “What is Penelope wondering about?”

Book Review: Daughter of Sparta by Clare M. Andrews

Set in the mythical past, Daughter of Sparta, which I received from NetGalley for review, draws loosely on the story of Daphne and Apollo. Andrews does not rehash the ancient story in modern language or setting; rather, she plays with timelines, figures, and myths to tell her own story, drawing on Olympian gods, heroes, andContinue reading “Book Review: Daughter of Sparta by Clare M. Andrews”

Collaboration > competition

The irony of my title above is that it puts collaboration and competition in, well, competition. I’m sharing it as a helpful reminder, to myself especially, of how very, very hard it is to actualize our ideals and to suggest that we be gentle with ourselves and each other. Perhaps it is helpful to thinkContinue reading “Collaboration > competition”

Book Review: Homer: A Beginner’s Guide by Elton Barker and Joel Christensen

“Homer’s story is also a story about us. It is about where we think poetic beauty and sublime meaning come from, about how we think about two poems that both belong to their own time and speak across the generations, about our basic assumptions concerning the nature of literature. In short, it is about whyContinue reading “Book Review: Homer: A Beginner’s Guide by Elton Barker and Joel Christensen”

The Sirens’ Promise

What are your thoughts on sirens? The topic came up in my comments section on Instagram recently and it got me thinking about a few things. One is how Homer’s portrayal of them in the Odyssey can be a source of surprise for first-time readers, who might expect (if they’ve seen 19th century paintings) sirensContinue reading “The Sirens’ Promise”

Book Review: Flamefall by Rosaria Munda

Rosaria Munda’s Flamefall is the second book in a fantasy young adult series in conversation with ancient texts. The first book, Fireborne, draws on Plato’s Republic and Virgil’s Aeneid. Flamefall, the follow up published this year, takes inspiration from Homer’s Iliad and Sophocles’ Antigone. In addition to the ancient influences, which Munda mentions explicitly inContinue reading “Book Review: Flamefall by Rosaria Munda”

Odysseus in the post-heroic age

An interesting contrast to contemplate: On the one hand, Homer’s Odyssey has been beloved from antiquity to the present. On the other hand, in much ancient literature after Homer, Odysseus is presented in a somewhat suspicious light. The contrast with Aeneas in Virgil’s epic is especially pointed. Where Aeneas gets all his men safely toContinue reading “Odysseus in the post-heroic age”

Why retell ancient myths?

In the ancient world, myths seem to have functioned as repositories of cultural knowledge—historical (this is where and who we came from), sacred (this is what and who we believe in), didactic (this is how we should behave), among others. History, religion, philosophy, pedagogy…these are categories that we moderns have increasingly atomized; ancient myths conflatedContinue reading “Why retell ancient myths?”

Book Review: “Helen of Troy” by Bettany Hughes

Have you ever experienced cognitive dissonance reading a book? Where you recognize the parts but not the whole the authors shapes them into? This was my experience reading Bettany Hughe’s Helen of Troy. It felt like watching toddlers play with a rubix’s cube. They seem to be making all the right moves, but it’s effectivelyContinue reading “Book Review: “Helen of Troy” by Bettany Hughes”