reason your viceroy in me, me should defend

“On the other hand,” I said, “if there are any examples, in the speeches or actions of distinguished men, of endurance in the face of everything, then these are models for our guardians to observe and listen to. For example:  He smote his chest, and thus rebuked his heart.  ‘Bear up, my heart. You have borne yet worse than this.’  “Yes, those are unquestionably the right models,” he said.  -Plato, The Republic, Book III, 390; quoting the Odyssey, 20.17-18 +++ Heart, my heart, so battered with misfortune far beyond your strength, up, and face the men who hate us. Bare your chest…

Simone Weil on the Iliad, or ‘the poem of Force’

“Once the experience of war makes visible the possibility of death that lies locked up in each moment, our thoughts cannot travel from one day to the next without meeting death’s face. The mind is then strung up to a pitch it can stand for only a short time; but each new dawn reintroduces the same necessity; and days piled on days make years.” -Simone Weil, “The Iliad, or the Poem of Force,” 1940. As translated by Mary McArthy, 1945.

As though forever

+++ At this moment that unmanning thunder cloud,the aegis, Athena’s shieldtook form aloft in the great hall. And the suitors mad with fearat her great sign stampeded like stung cattle by a riverwhen the dread shimmering gadfly strikes in summer,in the flowering season, in the long-drawn days.After them the attackers wheeled, terrible as falconsfrom eyries in the mountains veering over and diving downwith talons wide unsheathed on flights of birds,who cower down the sky in chutes and bursts along the valley —but the pouncing falcons grip their prey, no frantic wing avails,and farmers love to watch those beaked hunters.So these…

I don’t suppose you walked here on the sea.

+++ No other Odysseus will ever come,for he and I are one, the same; his bitterfortune and his wanderings are mine.Twenty years gone, and I am back againon my own island. +++ Of mortal creatures, all that breathe and move,earth bears none frailer than mankind…Our minds are as the days are, dark or bright,blown over by the father of gods and men. — Book 18, 160 +++ As translated by Roger Fitzgerald. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, New York: 1998.

The Odyssey

+++ What shall Isay first? What shall I keep until the end?The gods have tried me in a thousand ways.But first my name: let that be known to you,and if I pull away from pitiless death,friendship will bind us, though my lands lie far.I am Laertes son, Odysseus. – Book 9, ‘New Coasts and Poseidon’s Son’ lines 15-20. … in one stride he clutched at my companionsand caught two in his hands like squirming puppiesto beat their brains out, spattering the floor. -315 – 320 … Should destinyintend that he shall see his roof againamong his family in his father…

The Odyssey is the weirdest

“He made his way to a grove above the wateron open ground, and crept under twin bushesgrown from the same spot — olive and wild olive —a thicket proof against the stinging windor Sun’s blaze; fine soever the needling sunlight;nor could a downpour wet it through, so densethose plants were interwoven. Here Odysseustunneled, and raked together with his handsa wide bed — for a fall of leaves was there,enough to save two men or maybe threeon a winter night, a night of bitter cold.Odysseus’ heart laughed when he saw his leaf-bed,and down he lay, heaping more leaves above him. A…

The Iliad, books 18 – 24

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Imagine how the pyre of a burning townwill tower to heaven and be seen for milesfrom the island under attack, while all day longoutside their town, in brutal combat, pikemensuffer the wargod’s winnowing; at sundownflare on flare is lit, the signal firesshoot up for other islanders to see,that some relieving force in ships may come:just so the baleful radiance from Akhilleuslit the sky. – Book 18, The Immortal Shield, lines 240 – 255 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ You see, don’t you, how largeI am, how well-made? My father is noble,a goddess bore me. Yet death waits for me,for me as well, in…

The Iliad, books 1 – 17

+++ “The cry went out, the men came crowding, officers from their commander’s side went swiftly down to form each unit — and the grey-eyed goddess Athena kept the pace behind them, bearing her shield of storm, immortal and august, whose hundred golden-plaited tassels, worth a hecatomb each one, floated in air. So down the ranks that dazzling goddess went to stir the attack, and each man in his heart grew strong to fight and never quit the melee, for at her passage war itself became lovelier than return, lovelier than sailing in the decked ships to their own native…

To Do List

“The Turn of the Screw,” Henry James“The Illiad,” Homer – again“The Magic Mountain,” Thomas Mann“The Odyssey,” Homer – again And onto revisiting Virgil’s Aenied and Ovid’s Metamorphoses… Onwards. (Backwards?)

To Do List

“The Turn of the Screw,” Henry James“The Illiad,” Homer – again“The Magic Mountain,” Thomas Mann“The Odyssey,” Homer – again And onto revisiting Virgil’s Aenied and Ovid’s Metamorphoses… Onwards. (Backwards?)

Notes from the Iliad

“The cry went out, the men came crowding, officers from their commander’s side went swiftly down to form each unit — and the grey-eyed goddess Athena kept the pace behind them, bearing her shield of storm, immortal and august, whose hundred golden-plaited tassels, worth a hecatomb each one, floated in air. So down the ranks that dazzling goddess went to stir the attack, and each man in his heart grew strong to fight and never quit the melee, for at her passage war itself became lovelier than return, lovelier than sailing in the decked ships to their own native land….

Notes from the Iliad

“The cry went out, the men came crowding, officers from their commander’s side went swiftly down to form each unit — and the grey-eyed goddess Athena kept the pace behind them, bearing her shield of storm, immortal and august, whose hundred golden-plaited tassels, worth a hecatomb each one, floated in air. So down the ranks that dazzling goddess went to stir the attack, and each man in his heart grew strong to fight and never quit the melee, for at her passage war itself became lovelier than return, lovelier than sailing in the decked ships to their own native land….

Current project: Epic poetry

Revisiting the epics, and filling some gaps. Paradise Lost, for example. Kill me. c. forever ago: The Epic of Gilgamesh. [CHECK] c. 800-600 BC: The Iliad, Homer. Fitzgerald trans. (Reread) c. 800-600 BC: The Odyssey, Homer. Fitzgerald trans. (Reread) c. 100 BC: The Aeneid, Virgil.c. 100 AD: Metamorphoses, Ovid.c. 8th-10th century: Beowulf (Reread)11th century: The Song of Roland [CHECK] 12th century: The Nibelungenlied [CHECK] 14th century: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight14th century: The Divine Comedy, Dante. (Reread)1667: Paradise Lost, John Milton.1806: Faust, Goethe. (Reread)1874: Idylls of the King, Alfred Lord Tennyson. And then I want to revisit everything Shakespeare…

Current project: Epic poetry

Revisiting the epics, and filling some gaps. Paradise Lost, for example. Kill me. c. forever ago: The Epic of Gilgamesh. [CHECK] c. 800-600 BC: The Iliad, Homer. Fitzgerald trans. (Reread) [CHECK] c. 800-600 BC: The Odyssey, Homer. Fitzgerald trans. (Reread) [CHECK] c. 100 BC: The Aeneid, Virgil. [CHECK]c. 100 AD: Metamorphoses, Ovid. [CHECK]c. 8th-10th century: Beowulf (Reread) [STILL NEEDED]11th century: The Song of Roland [CHECK] 12th century: The Nibelungenlied [CHECK] 14th century: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight [STILL NEEDED]14th century: The Divine Comedy, Dante. (Reread) [CHECK]1667: Paradise Lost, John Milton. [CHECK!]1806: Faust, Goethe. (Reread)1874: Idylls of the King, Alfred…