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?”
“Theseus: Now then, you who sit there in misery, I bid you reveal your face to a friend. No darkness has a cloud so black as could conceal the depths of your misfortune. Why do you shake your hand at me, showing fear? Are you afraid I may be polluted if I speak to you?Continue reading “Euripides’ Heracles and Theseus”
In Plato’s Symposium, Diotima, Socrates’ teacher “in the ways of love,” describes Eros as a daimon megas, “a great superhuman force,” who serves as an intermediary between gods and humans. Eros fills the space between “what is liable to death and what never dies,” and in this way, it “binds together all that is.” LoveContinue reading “Plato and Homer”
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”?”
Two questions that I ponder endlessly as I attempt to render Homer in English are these: What do we, as modern readers, want from a text? And if I want to render what the Homeric texts give us, to what extent do I need to set aside what we, as modern readers, want from texts?Continue reading “On translation, again, still”
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”
“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”
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”
What are your thoughts on Calypso? One of the passages I worked on recently was Calypso’s final speech to Odysseus. There’s something equal parts chilling and poignant about her. On the one hand, she is keeping Odysseus hostage. She offers him unending pleasure, ageless youth, eternity, but he does not want any of it. HeContinue reading “Homer’s Calypso”
The more time I spend translating Penelope’s speech and scenes, the more “heroic” she seems to become—possessing superhuman strength, pursuing fame, potentially being the recipient of cult honors. It makes me wonder what she meant to the historical women of archaic and classical Athens. Three potential clues might be 1) the existence of women cultContinue reading “A Penelopiad”
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