Suggestions for Further (and Leisure) Reading

As you relax from the rigors of the semester, you may like one or more of these Suggestions for Leisure Reading: an Amazon list of Troy-themed novels and more. On the list you’ll find works funny and serious, long and short, graphic novels and epics, classic films and classically awful movies. I’ll be reading Malouf’s Ransom this summer, and perhaps Miller’s Song of Achilles. Enjoy! And thank you again for a memorable and stimulating semester.

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Marginalia 4.29.2012

From my own personal Mt. Olympus (aka my living room), let’s take a look at the new and notable in the world of antiquity on-line:

  • Sortes Vergilianae & Sibylline Oracle for iOS! “This app provides to you the same opportunity as the Romans, except now it’s truly random: press a button and you’ll be presented with one passage from the Aeneid or from the Sibylline Oracles. What does it mean? That’s for you to decide, but if you don’t like it just press the “burn it” button to get a new prophecy!”

  • Ovid’s Metamorphoses & Art History (via The Guardian): “The National Gallery is putting on its show Metamorphosis to celebrate the two great Titians it has purchased in partnership with the National Gallery of Scotland. Diana and Callisto and Diana and Actaeon both depict scenes from Ovid. But if Titian was the greatest visualiser of Ovid he had a lot of competition. Such marvels of art as Correggio’s Jupiter and Io, Michelangelo’s Fall of Phaethon, and Carravaggio’s Medusa all draw heat from Ovid’s imaginative fire. The exhibition Metamorphosis, an Olympic special tied in with new opera productions, involves works by contemporary British artists – including Chris Ofili and Mark Wallinger – that respond to Ovid’s myths. The gallery is also publishing newly commissioned poems after Ovid by writers who include Seamus Heaney….”
  • David Bianculli talks “I, Claudius” on the occasion of its 35th anniversary: “The miniseries boasts impressive performances from several key British actors. Patrick Stewart, long before Star Trek: The Next Generation, shows up here. So does John Hurt, as a memorably unhinged Caligula. And the women, including Sian Phillips as Livia and Sheila White as Messalina, are deadlier, and even more fascinating, than the men. John Hurt (Caligula) and Derek Jacobi (Claudius) square off in the miniseries I, Claudius.Except, that is, for Claudius himself. Played by Derek Jacobi, it’s a performance that spans wide-eyed youth and weary old age…”
  • A nifty collection of podcasts about ancient medicine (via Love of History Blog)
  • Taylor S. (BMC ’14) reviewed Anne Carson’s memorable performance at Haverford last week.
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Eyewitness: Battle of Gallipoli

Lizzie passes this along (thanks!):

The BBC has an interview with a New Zealander who survived the Battle of Gallipoli and he describes the terrible conditions and his “lucky” escape from the battle (his leg was blown off so the army had to send him home):

Interestingly, he talks about the Turkish enemies with great respect and describes their trenches as being so close they could reach out and shake hands with the other side. I thought there were some interesting parallels with the relations between the Trojans and the Greeks in the Iliad, especially the physical proximity the two sides had throughout the war as well as the general stagnation of the fighting.

Although we tend to think of modern warfare as mechanizes and impersonal–and this was a concern of many of the authors that we read–we should remember that there could be moments of terrible (and occasionally heartwarming) Homeric intimacy among combatants in modern times.

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Taylor’s Review of Anne Carson’s Performance

Taylor reviewed Anne Carson’s performance for the Bi-Co News.

This past Wednesday, audiences at Haverford College were treated to a unique array of stimulants during poet and classicist Anne Carson’s presentation of Cassandra Float Can (an essay on translation) and Bracko (an evocation of Sappho), collaborative pieces with Robert Currie, artist and Benjamin Miller, composer. The two creative pieces, though distinct in topic and production, functioned as an exceptional entity, combing literary criticism, poetry, dance, visual aids, and musical accompaniment.

Read more…


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Modern Troys: Simmons’s Ilium

Teaser Plot Summary

Thomas Hockenberry, once a classics professor, now works for the ancient gods as a scholic during the Trojan War. Each day he observes the battle and reports his findings back to the muse he serves. While the events at first strictly adhere to Homer’s account in the Iliad, the plot soon

On the Earth, the race of humans is no more than one million and could care less about things such as reading and writing.  However, due to the curiosity of one man named Harman, a small group of new-style humans set out to learn about their own world. Their encounter with the only old-style human left on Earth leads them on an eye-opening adventure.
Mahnmut, a lover of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and Orphu, a devotee of Marcel Proust, are moravecs, sentient creatures with both organic and mechanical parts. They are selected for a secret mission: to deliver a Device to Olympos Mons on Mars, a hotbed of quantum instability. Continue reading

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Modern Troys: Joyce’s Ulysses

Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves.

Ulysses 9.1044-1046

James Joyce’s Ulysses is a modernist reinvention of Homer’s Odyssey through more than just allusion. The novel takes place during the course of one day (June 16, 1904) in Dublin, Ireland, with the final chapter taking place during the morning of the next day. It mostly follows the stream-of-consciousness of Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, and Molly Bloom throughout their day. In the Homeric parallel, Dedalus corresponds to Telemachus, Leopold Bloom corresponds to Odysseus, and Molly Bloom corresponds to both Calypso and Penelope. It is important to note that not much happens plot-wise; the reader learns most about the characters and past events through the stream-of-consciousness of the three characters and their interactions with others throughout the novel. The first three chapters are told from the perspective of Stephen Dedalus, an aloof, young teacher and writer/poet who is tormented by the loss of his mother and the current state of the world that surrounds him. Continue reading

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Modern Troy: O’Neil’s Mourning Becomes Electra

Mourning Becomes Electra is a trilogy of three plays: “Homecoming”, “The Hunted”, “The Haunted”.


Act One
Civil War-era New England April, 1865.  The first act opens with three townsfolk and the Mannon gardener acting like a Greek chorus by revealing Ezra Mannon (the Agamemnon character) as coming from a family who has “been top dog round here for near on two hundred years” and, individually as “best fighter in the hull of Grant’s army”. The townsfolk are suspicious of his wife, Christine, (the Clytemnestra character) and they describe the family as full of secrets and looking as if they constantly wear masks to conceal them. Ezra’s daughter, Lavinia, (the Electra character) rejects a marriage proposal from a family friend because she cannot bear to leave her father revealing remarkable similarities to an Electra Complex.  Also, a mysterious stranger, Adam Brant, is revealed to be the son of the forbidden love affair between Lavina’s great-uncle and the family maid. The latter were cast out of the Mannon household, and Brant has sworn revenge on the family. Thus far, he has been romantically linked to both Lavinia, and her mother, Christine. Continue reading

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Modern Troys: Frazier’s Cold Mountain

Charles Frazier is an award-winning American historical novelist who is most famous for his NewYork Times best-seller Cold Mountain and his second novel, Thirteen Moons. A North Carolina native, Frazier graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1973. He also received an M.A. from Appalachian State University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of South Carolina.

Cold Mountain is the story of Inman, a wounded Confederate army soldier who deserts from the military. This novel traces his journey back to his home in Cold Mountain, North Carolina and to his love interest, Ada. The novel alternates back and forth between their two stories, describing either Inman’s adventures or Ada’s struggles with running Black Cove, the farm that was left to her following her father’s death. Inman encounters impediments along his walk, including near-fatal encounters with the Home Guard, other bounty hunters looking for deserters, severe weather, harsh terrain, and hunger. He is helped along by others who oppose the war, and in turn assists those he finds to be in need. Continue reading

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Modern Troys: Derek Walcott’s Omeros

Derek Walcott’s Omeros is an epic poem published in 1990 that draws on Homer to addresses issues in the post-colonial world of the island St. Lucia.  Walcott divides his epic into seven books of various lengths, with a total of sixty-four chapters.  Each chapter, which generally focuses on one particular character, is divided into three short sections.  Walcott writes in hexameter, the same meter as Homer, and in a rough terza rima, the same form that Dante used.  The poetry is incredibly well crafted, and this summary does not pretend to approach or describe the power and meaning of the work itself. Continue reading

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Felix Dies Natalis, Roma!

Rome turned 2,765 years young today!

birthday cupcake

Not an authentic Roman birthday treat.


But this is: Ovid describes the Parilia, the festival Romans celebrated to mark the founding of their city. There are cows jumping over fires… and quite possibly fratricide.

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