Did Achilles have a choice? In Iliad 9, Achilles famously reveals that two options are available to him: either he can remain in Troy, die in battle, and be immortalized, or he can return home and live a long but unremarkable life. The debate over whether he actually has control is one of those deliciousContinue reading “Ajax and Achilles”
I’ve had Edith Hamilton’s “The Greek Way” on my bookshelf for a few years. The first time I tried to read it, I was a bit put off by her East-West binary, which feels anachronistic and oversimplified. But the book will inevitably be a product of its time, as we all are, to some extent,Continue reading “Book review: “The Greek Way” by Edith Hamilton”
What happens to the gods in the age of empire? This week, I’ve been reading David Raeburn’s translation of Metamorphoses by Ovid, arguably the most influential ancient myth retelling on modern myth retellings. To clarify, I’m not challenging the view that, overall, Homer remains the most influential ancient poet. But as far as how mythologyContinue reading “Gods in the age of Empire”
Shall we talk about Helen of Sparta? This Roman relief, believed to be based on Greek models and dating anywhere from 100 BC- 100, depicts Aphrodite, Eros, and Peitho (goddess of Persuasion) overseeing the meeting between Helen and Paris. In both Greek and Roman mythologies, Helen’s birth follows sexual violence. In Ovid, she is bornContinue reading “Helen in Greek and Roman Mythologies”
Over the last month, I’ve been slow-reading Coleman Barks’ collection of Rumi’s verse about love. Also during this time (surely inspired by Barks), I’ve been challenging myself to translate favorite passages from Homer and render them into self-contained moments. Helen at her loom in Iliad 3. Odysseus’ encounter with Ino in Odyssey 5. Any sceneContinue reading “Reading poetry, translating poetry”
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”
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”
“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”
“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”
“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?”
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