War Stories

One of the most powerful war books I’ve ever read is Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a collection of semi-autobiographical stories based on the author’s Vietnam experiences. The collection is notable for boundary crossing. The stories are not fiction, exactly, but they’re not essays either. Rather than deferring to the usual categories, O’Brien differentiatesContinue reading “War Stories”

The Odyssey’s opening stanza, Part 2

“Sing to me of the resourceful man, O Muse, who wandered far after he had sacked the sacred city of Troy. He saw the cities of many men and he learned their minds. He suffered many pains in the sea in his spirit, seeking to save his life and the homecoming of his companions. ButContinue reading “The Odyssey’s opening stanza, Part 2”

The Odyssey’s opening stanza

“The man, Muse—tell me about that resourceful man, who wandered far and wide, when he’d sacked Troy’s sacred citadel: many men’s townships he saw, and learned their ways of thinking, many the griefs he suffered at heart on the open sea, battling for his own life and his comrades’ homecoming. Yet no way could heContinue reading “The Odyssey’s opening stanza”

What is ancient Greek heroism?

“and the rest of Asia imperishable fame.” “And all the elder women shouted aloud/and all the men cried out a lovely song/calling on Paon farshooting god of the lyre,/and they were singing a hymn for Hektor and Andromache/like to gods.” These lines, all from Sappho fragment 44, refer to the marriage of Hektor and Andromache.Continue reading “What is ancient Greek heroism?”

War as topic vs. setting

“It is a pretty poem, Mr Pope, but you must not call it Homer.” Richard Bentley If I had to pick one favorite statement about translation, Bentley’s would be it. The beauty of Pope’s translation—as with others’ from his time up to ours—can be intoxicating. In Pope’s case, the translation’s beauty inspired generations of Englishmen,Continue reading “War as topic vs. setting”

Understanding that we do not understand

“[Agamemnon] has sent the best men to you to supplicate you, choosing them out of the Achaian host, those who to yourself are the dearest of all the Argives. Do not make vain their argument nor their footsteps, though before this one could not blame your anger. Thus it was in the old days also,Continue reading “Understanding that we do not understand”

Iliad 23 and conflict resolution

“Antilochus, I will now give way and leave off my anger against you; you were never wild or thoughtless before this, though this time youthful spirits overcame your judgment; another time be careful to avoid deceiving your betters. No other man of the Achaeans could easily have won me over, but you have endured muchContinue reading “Iliad 23 and conflict resolution”