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”

Iphigenia’s heroic moment

κλέος γὰρ οὔ σε μὴ λίπῃIphigenia at Aulis, line 1505 When we read anthologized exploits of ancient Greek heroes, the stories typically revolve around male warriors, such that the concept of “heroic exchange” seems to be defined primarily, if not exclusively, in terms of physical skill. Heroes are often portrayed as warriors who excel onContinue reading “Iphigenia’s heroic moment”

Calling Roman texts ‘derivative’ makes me cringe

There’s no shortage of memes that poke fun at Roman texts for being derivative. As is often the case when one thing is either elevated or mocked at the expense of another, it’s an oversimplification. A case of extrapolating a kernel of truth to a degree that misleadingly glosses over a more complex dynamic thatContinue reading “Calling Roman texts ‘derivative’ makes me cringe”

Book Review: Alessia in Atlantis: The Forbidden Vial by Nathalie Laine

As with other popular children’s fantasy series (e.g. Harry Potter, Keeper of the Lost Cities, Percy Jackson), Nathalie Laine’s Alessia in Atlantis: The Forbidden Vial revolves around a child, in this case 12-year-old Alessia, who discovers that she is not who she thought she was and is whisked away to a hidden world, the titularContinue reading “Book Review: Alessia in Atlantis: The Forbidden Vial by Nathalie Laine”