What are Helen and Andromache weaving in the Iliad?

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?”

Plato and Homer

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”

Verse from a time of conquest

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”

Homer’s Calypso

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”

A Penelopiad

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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