A visit to Delphi

“Then you raced up a mountain ridgeand came to Krisa beneath the snows of Parnassos,where the shoulder of the mountain turnstowards the west, with a rockhanging over from aboveand a hollow rugged glade running underneath.There the lord Phoebus Apollodecided to make his lovely temple.” Hymn to Pythian Apollo, trans. by Jules Cashford One of myContinue reading “A visit to Delphi”

Favorite ancient classics

My friend Mariana recently asked me to share three favorite books. It’s always difficult for me to pick favorites, as a general rule. I love so many books, for such different reasons. The moment I commit to one, I think about all the others I didn’t pick and wonder why. If you’re here at thisContinue reading “Favorite ancient classics”

Longing for completion

“They sing of Letowith her lovely ankles,how she gave birthto the best of childrenof all the gods,supremein what they sayand do.”Hymn to Artemis, trans. Jules Cashford This sculpture lives at the archaeological museum on Delos and, according to the placard at its base, depicts Leto. Her ankles are covered by her dress, if anyone isContinue reading “Longing for completion”

Erinna and ancient lament

“… Baucis, these tears are your embersand my memorial, traces glowing in my heart,now all that we once shared has turned to ash …” (Erinna, trans. Josephine Balmer) These lines are from The Distaff, a 300-line hexameter poem that survives only in fragments. It’s attributed (though debated) to Erinna, an ancient Greek women whose poetryContinue reading “Erinna and ancient lament”

War Stories

One of the most powerful war books I’ve ever read is Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a collection of semi-autobiographical stories based on the author’s Vietnam experiences. The collection is notable for boundary crossing. The stories are not fiction, exactly, but they’re not essays either. Rather than deferring to the usual categories, O’Brien differentiatesContinue reading “War Stories”

The Odyssey’s opening stanza, Part 2

“Sing to me of the resourceful man, O Muse, who wandered far after he had sacked the sacred city of Troy. He saw the cities of many men and he learned their minds. He suffered many pains in the sea in his spirit, seeking to save his life and the homecoming of his companions. ButContinue reading “The Odyssey’s opening stanza, Part 2”

The Odyssey’s opening stanza

“The man, Muse—tell me about that resourceful man, who wandered far and wide, when he’d sacked Troy’s sacred citadel: many men’s townships he saw, and learned their ways of thinking, many the griefs he suffered at heart on the open sea, battling for his own life and his comrades’ homecoming. Yet no way could heContinue reading “The Odyssey’s opening stanza”

What is ancient Greek heroism?

“and the rest of Asia imperishable fame.” “And all the elder women shouted aloud/and all the men cried out a lovely song/calling on Paon farshooting god of the lyre,/and they were singing a hymn for Hektor and Andromache/like to gods.” These lines, all from Sappho fragment 44, refer to the marriage of Hektor and Andromache.Continue reading “What is ancient Greek heroism?”