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

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”

Book Review: Hearing Homer’s Song by Robert Kanigel

“The first paradox about the Iliad is that it is a text which is not a text, i.e. it comes out of a tradition of oral performance and oral delivery.” Barbara Graziosi’s above description—noted on the occasion of Anthony Verity’s OUP Iliad translation, for which she provided notes and an introduction—is accepted as common knowledgeContinue reading “Book Review: Hearing Homer’s Song by Robert Kanigel”

Book Discussion: Singer of Tales by Albert Lord

“The picture that emerges is not really one of conflict between preserver of tradition and creative artist; it is rather one of the preservation of tradition by the constant re-creation of it. The ideal is a true story well and truly told.”—Albert Lord, “The Singer of Tales” One of the biggest challenges researchers of anyContinue reading “Book Discussion: Singer of Tales by Albert Lord”

Book Review: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

“But do you realize what it’s doing to our society to train our children, practically from birth, to idealize and glorify fighting? To worship the First Citizens like saints? We should be teaching our children to be more caring, more inquisitive—not only to destroy, but to build” (182). Which of the books in the photoContinue reading “Book Review: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson”

On reading Aeschylus’ Suppliants

“Tell me now, Muses,Who live on Olympus—for you areGoddesses, and are present,And know all things, while weHear only reports and know nothing.”—Iliad 2.522-526, Stanley Lombardo translation “The mind of ZeusIs trackless, unbounded.”—Aeschylus’ The Suppliants, Peter Burian translation The partial, subjective nature of human knowledge seems to be a prominent theme threaded through ancient Greek thought.Continue reading “On reading Aeschylus’ Suppliants”

Book Review: The Immortal Game by Talia Rothschild & A. C. Harvey

What (if anything) do you like to see in ancient myth retellings? I’ve noted before that my favorite types of retellings are thought experiments in which ancient stories that transcend time and place are transplanted into a different context. The latest in my “read” pile is The Immortal Game by Talia Rothschild and A. C.Continue reading “Book Review: The Immortal Game by Talia Rothschild & A. C. Harvey”