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"He's been in the black earth now for a thousand years"

Deaths in the Iliad is an infographic by Laura Jenkinson presenting every death in Homer's Iliad. In her book of poetry Memorial Alice Oswald did something similar, writing about all 213 named men who die in the epic poem. You can read excerpts of the poem and listen to her read these excerpts at the Poetry Archive (1, 2). Or you can listen to her discuss Memorial on the Poetry Trust podcast (iTunes, mp3).
posted by Kattullus on Jul 30, 2014 - 19 comments

I sing of legs and a tail

puppy aeneid
posted by grobstein on May 3, 2014 - 8 comments

Why are Christians so concerned about sex?

Why are Christians so concerned about sex? When English interpretations of the New Testament talk about ‘sexual immorality’ they are really translating the Greek word porneia (πορνεία), it’s used almost every time the topic of sex comes up and often when talking about the worst sins in general. If you can really grok what Paul was talking about as he uses the root for the word over and over again (it appears 32 times in the New Testament) then the rest falls into place. Now porneia has always been translated into Latin as fornication, while being understood by many conservatives to just be a 1:1 stand in for ‘any sexual expression not between husband and wife’. However, Porneia in post-classical Corinthian Greek did not mean generic sexual sin, or even sex outside of marriage, at all exactly and neither did fornication in actual Latin. The truth, like in many things, is a little bit more complicated and a lot more interesting. TRIGGER WARNINGS AHEAD FOR DEPICTIONS OF SEXUAL EXPLOITATION IN CLASSICAL GREECE, ALSO AN NSFW VASE. (SFW version) [via mefi projects]
posted by jaduncan on Mar 26, 2014 - 108 comments

Sappho's sixth and seventh poems

Although she is a literary legend, only one complete poem of Sappho's survives, along with substantial fragments of four others (the last discovered in 2004). Now two new fragments have been discovered. [more inside]
posted by Athanassiel on Jan 28, 2014 - 89 comments

The Best Hundred Novels (1898 Edition)

The Queenslander, April 4, 1898: "Mr. Clement K. Shorter, asked by 'The Bookman' to write out a list of 100 of the best novels in the English language, supplied the following list, naming only one book of each author, and giving the date of publication :--" [Via.] [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Nov 6, 2013 - 57 comments

18 Books Ernest Hemingway Wished He Could Read Again for the First Time.

18 Books Ernest Hemingway Wished He Could Read Again for the First Time. "I would rather read again for the first time Anna Karenina, Far Away and Long Ago, Buddenbrooks, Wuthering Heights, Madame Bovary, War and Peace, A Sportsman's Sketches, The Brothers Karamazov, Hail and Farewell, Huckleberry Finn, Winesburg, Ohio, La Reine Margot, La Maison Tellier, Le Rouge et le Noire, La Chartreuse de Parme, Dubliners, Yeat's Autobiographies and a few others than have an assured income of a million dollars a year."
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Sep 23, 2013 - 24 comments

Ex Urbe

"But Freud had a second fear: a fear of Rome's layers. In formal treatises, he compared the psyche to an ancient city, with many layers of architecture built one on top of another, each replacing the last, but with the old structures still present underneath. In private writings he phrased this more personally, that he was terrified of ever visiting Rome because he was terrified of the idea of all the layers and layers and layers of destroyed structures hidden under the surface, at the same time present and absent, visible and invisible. He was, in a very deep way, absolutely right." [more inside]
posted by Paragon on Aug 20, 2013 - 31 comments

Achilles sat on the shore and looked out to the wine-dark sea

That Homer used the epithet "wine-dark" to describe the sea in the Iliad and Odyssey so puzzled 19th Century English Prime Minister William Gladstone that he thought the Ancient Greeks must have been colorblind. Since then many other solutions have been proposed. Scientists have argued that Ancient Greek wine was blue and some scholars have put forward the case that Homer was describing the sea at sunset. Radiolab devoted a segment to the exploration of this issue, saying that Gladstone was partly right. Another interpretation is that the Ancient Greeks focused on different aspects of color from us. Classicist William Harris' short essay about purple in Homer and Iliad translator Caroline Alexander's longer essay The Wine-like Sea make the case for this interpretation.
posted by Kattullus on Aug 12, 2013 - 108 comments

The small print

Typographic Insanity. You can still read the text of James Joyce's Ulysses even if all 265,222 words are printed on a 33 x 47 inch poster. It's a little harder when you cram the 820,000 words of the King James Bible. "Warner says theoretically they could print letterforms that are just seven printing dots high, meaning a type size of 0.3pt, where the capital letters would be .0002 inches tall. “That would be a poster with way over 1 million words,” he says. “And as of yet, we’ve not found a famous work in the public domain that long.” Also available, Das Kapital, Faust, Moby Dick, Origin of Species, MacBeth, Pride and Prejudice, Kama Sutra, Don Quixote, Tristram Shandy with more to come.
posted by storybored on Aug 1, 2013 - 31 comments

Five Feet of Books

"During his days as Harvard’s influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. Publisher P. F. Collier and Son loved the idea and asked Eliot to compile and edit the right collection of works. The result: a 51-volume series of classic works from world literature published in 1909 called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf, which would later be called The Harvard Classics." (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 11, 2013 - 89 comments

Sturgeon! Dick! Asimov! Heinlein! DeCamp! Bradbury! Sheckley! Pohl!

The very first major science fiction series for adults on radio was Mutual Broadcasting System's 2000 Plus (1950-1952). An anthology program, 2000 Plus used all new material rather than adapting published stories. Just one month after its premiere, NBC Radio began airing Dimension X (1950-1951), which dramatized the written work of such young writers as Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Kurt Vonnegut. In 1955, NBC relaunched Dimension X as X Minus One (1955-1958), drawing from stories that had been published in the two most popular science fiction magazines at the time: Astounding and Galaxy. 17 of 30 episodes of 2000 Plus, all 50 episodes of Dimension X, and all 125 episodes of X Minus One are available for free download as individual mp3s from the Internet Archive. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 12, 2013 - 23 comments

I said Goddamn!!!

Gorgeous Portraits of Movie Characters & Classic Shots by Massimo Carnevale [slimgur]
posted by cthuljew on Apr 4, 2013 - 41 comments

friends sisters dance mean sick muddy yes? no! write read walk marry*

Cozy Classics are board book versions of classic novels, each story represented by 12 child-friendly words and 12 needle-felted illustrations, with the idea of developing "early literacy"—everything children know about reading and writing before they can actually do either. Current titles include Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, Les Miserables, and War and Peace, with Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist forthcoming. [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco on Mar 22, 2013 - 15 comments

Looking Good, Ancient Rome

Amateur archaeologist and "forensic hairdresser" Janet Stephens has discovered how to recreate the Seni Crines, the elaborately braided hairstyle worn by the vestal virgins. Don't miss Stephens' other classical hairstyle videos.
posted by Miko on Jan 9, 2013 - 35 comments

Cities and the Soul

With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else. December 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of Invisible Cities -- the sublime metaphysical travelogue by author-journalist Italo Calvino. In a series of pensive dialogues with jaded emperor Kublai Khan, the explorer Marco Polo describes a meandering litany of visionary and impossible places, dozens of surreal, fantastical cities, each poetically reifying ideas vital to language, philosophy, and the human spirit. This gracefully written love letter to urban life has inspired countless tributes, but it's just the most accessible of Calvino's fascinating literary catalogue. Look inside for a closer look at his most remarkable works, links to English translations of his magical prose, and collections of artistic interpretations from around the web -- including this treasure trove of essays, excerpts, articles, and recommended reading. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 30, 2012 - 26 comments

Loebolus

All the 245 pdf-format, public domain Loebs conveniently arranged in one place, ready to be downloaded for your classics reading pleasure. (via time's flow stemmed)
posted by Marauding Ennui on Nov 26, 2012 - 47 comments

Why Must I Be A Roman Tribute In Love?

An animated depiction of Teenage life in Anicent Rome
posted by The Whelk on Oct 31, 2012 - 21 comments

The Writing on the Wall

The Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum is a massive, 17-volume catalog of 180,000 inscriptions and graffiti found across the Roman Empire in classical times. It's available for free online now, starting with the parts published before 1940. I'm fond of volume 4, which covers Pompeii and Herculaneum. (Pompeii graffiti prev) [more inside]
posted by msalt on Aug 24, 2012 - 19 comments

If it was good enough for Ted Roosevelt, it's good enough for me

Classicly is a curated collection of pre-1923 books in Kindle format, ranging from haughty epics to intellectual fiction, without taking away from the no-brow everyman's novel and even some timeless non-fiction. A great way to sort your way through their impressive inventory is their annotated collections, but there's enough serendipity going around in the main page that you get around to books you even forgot you wanted to read.
posted by syntaxfree on Aug 14, 2012 - 14 comments

The story is about a very very hairy eagle who hangs out with fancy ladies.

"This is about a girl that goes mining. I don’t know why, but she looks like she would go mining, mining for gold. " Judging a Book by its Cover: A 6-Year-Old Guesses What Classic Novels are All About.
posted by Navelgazer on Jul 19, 2012 - 89 comments

Erotic classics

"Explosive sex with Mr Rochester," anyone? A publisher decides to add more sex to Jane Eyre and other classics.
posted by anothermug on Jul 18, 2012 - 83 comments

Turn all book covers into wallpapers

Turn all book covers into wallpapers [via mefi projects] Lovely book cover images from classic novels, remixed with "the most defining quote" from each book.
posted by exceptinsects on Jul 17, 2012 - 15 comments

The A-Okay Gatsby

The goons at Something Awful have a field day photoshopping downgraded and cut-rate literary classics. Part 2.
posted by The Whelk on May 31, 2012 - 150 comments

Gac Filipaj gets his degree from Columbia after 20 years

Filipaj worked as a custodian for 20 years to finance learning English, then Latin and Greek. He says he'll keep working at Columbia while continuing to study, rather than looking to move to a more lucrative job immediately.
posted by BibiRose on May 9, 2012 - 25 comments

"It's not a race where you need good luck. It's a race where you've got to make sure you don't have any bad luck."

With Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (results), the Belgian professional bicycle racing season has begun. Races are contested in the capricious spring weather, on devastatingly steep hills called hellingen, winding roads, and the cobbles known as pavé. Only cycling's true hardmen win these Spring Classics. [more inside]
posted by entropone on Feb 27, 2012 - 9 comments

Intervals

Star Wars. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Battlestar Galactica (1978), Superman: The Movie. What do all of these iconic scifi music themes have in common? Bear McCeary discusses the physics behind them. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 12, 2012 - 36 comments

No, I DON'T want a bedtime story tonight

Smother Goose, an invaluable resource for anyone who was ever traumatized by a childhood "classic", covers everything from popular kids' books to bizarre movies, even that odd little song you had memorized as a kid. [more inside]
posted by misha on Jan 28, 2012 - 25 comments

Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government

How well do you really know old Arty? It all began with the Welsh: The The Annales Cabriae (inside) and parts of the Welsh oral tradition (later collected into the Mabinogion) give a very different picture of the popular King Arthur than contemporary readers are familiar with: no Lancelot, three or four different Guens, no love triangles or Holy Grails. A look at the vast scope of the Arthurian legend. [more inside]
posted by kittenmarlowe on Dec 19, 2011 - 30 comments

Kitty Lit 101

Comediva is having a Cat Week, and one of the features is "Kitty Lit 101".
posted by reenum on Dec 4, 2011 - 9 comments

Beyond "Total Noise"

The New Classics: The most enduring books, shows, movies, and ideas since 2000. [more inside]
posted by vidur on Nov 7, 2011 - 132 comments

On The Set

Hervé Attia has made dozens of videos showing movie locations as they look in the present day juxtaposed with clips of the actual film. He also puts himself into the film sometimes. [more inside]
posted by gman on Nov 7, 2011 - 9 comments

Hanover Historical Texts Project

Hanover Historical Texts Project is a collection of primary source texts from ancient times to the modern era in English translation. There is a great number of interesting texts, for instance accounts of Zeno, he of the paradoxes, the diary of Lady Sarashina, a lady-in-waiting in Heian era Japan, a letter from Count Stephen of Blois and Chartres, a crusader writing to his wife, Arthur Young's travels in France before and during the Revolution, a report by the American ambassador in St. Petersburg on March 20th, 1917, immediately after the February Revolution, and finally Petrarch's letter about his graphomania. That last one is from what is perhaps my favorite part of the website, a trove of Petrarch's Familiar Letters. But there's much more in the Hanover Historical Texts Projects besides what I've mentioned.
posted by Kattullus on Oct 24, 2011 - 6 comments

The personal website of a retired classics professor

Humanities and the Liberal Arts is the personal website of former Middlebury classics professor William Harris who passed away in 2009. In his retirement he crafted a wonderful site full of essays, music, sculpture, poetry and his thoughts on anything from education to technology. But the heart of the website for me is, unsurprisingly, his essays on ancient Latin and Greek literature some of whom are book-length works. Here are a few examples: Purple color in Homer, complete fragments of Heraclitus, how to read Homer and Vergil, a discussion of a recently unearthed poem by Sappho, Plato and mathematics, Propertius' war poems, and finally, especially close to my heart, his commentaries on the poetry of Catullus, for example on Ipsithilla, Odi et amo, Attis poem as dramatic dance performance and a couple of very dirty poems (even by Catullus' standard). That's just a taste of the riches found on Harris' site, which has been around nearly as long as the world wide web has existed.
posted by Kattullus on Sep 30, 2011 - 18 comments

Clifton Fadiman's Lifetime Reading Plan

Clifton Fadiman's Lifetime Reading Plan, 3rd Edition (not to be confused with Clifton Fadiman and John S. Major's Lifetime Reading Plan, 4th Edition) [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Sep 13, 2011 - 34 comments

VSA! VSA! VSA!

Q: Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus if I traveled back in time with a modern U.S. Marine infantry battalion or MEU? A: It might be harder than you expect.
posted by overeducated_alligator on Aug 31, 2011 - 377 comments

Audionatomy of Melancholy

A discussion on BBC Radio 4 of Robert Burton's 17th-century compendium The Anatomy Of Melancholy. Examining the medical, literary, political, and religious influences of this enormous work, as well as how it contributed to those same fields over its many years of revisions and continuing popularity. Not exactly thorough (how could it be?) but an interesting listen.
posted by BlackLeotardFront on May 14, 2011 - 26 comments

Sydromachos had a backside “as big as a cistern.”

Titas wuz here: Ancient graffiti begins giving up its secrets. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Mar 23, 2011 - 15 comments

Magnificent Obsession

The Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles' second film, has inspired a legend around the lost footage excised by the studio to make it more appealing to audiences. The film's making is a cautionary tale in letting the studio have creative control, and the finished product pained Welles to his dying day. The mythical status of the lost footage has inspired a few to try and track it down. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Dec 13, 2010 - 25 comments

Balzac, Eco, Chekov, Virgil: unnecessary

The State University of New York at Albany's motto is "the world within reach." But language faculty members are questioning the university's commitment to such a vision after being told Friday that the university was ending all admissions to programs in French, Italian, Russian and classics, leaving only Spanish left in the language department once current students graduate.
posted by Stewriffic on Oct 4, 2010 - 68 comments

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.

The Gecko Wears A Tiara [via mefi projects] Sumarian proverbs. Compare those with the 1600BCE Ashubanipal proverbs and Proverbs From the Ancient Egyptian Temples and indeed, modern Iraq and Arabic more generally. Enjoy, culture geeks. [more inside]
posted by jaduncan on Nov 6, 2009 - 32 comments

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius: Was He Quite Ordinary? [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Jul 24, 2009 - 32 comments

Think you've read Madame Bovary?

4,500 additional pages omitted from Flaubert's 500-page Madame Bovary have been released online (in French). "The site – www.bovary.fr – contains not only the published text and images of the barely legible manuscripts but interactive controls which allow the reader to re-instate passages corrected or cut by Flaubert or his publishers." It took "between three and 10 hours to decipher a single page of Flaubert's writing," done mostly by volunteers from around the world.
posted by stbalbach on Apr 19, 2009 - 39 comments

The worst face of intellectualism: the bluestocking

On British TV last night, Gail Trimble, a Classics scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, singlehandedly trounced the opposing team in University Challenge. To some a smug, bluestocking know-it-all, to others a role model. Cue the fightback and lots of questions about whether we, as a society, actually like really clever people and specifically, clever women?.
posted by MuffinMan on Feb 24, 2009 - 166 comments

Thus did the sons of the Heike vanish forever from the face of the earth.

The Tale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari) is a medieval Japanese account of the rise and fall of the Taira clan and has inspired many other works of art. Click on the chapters and scroll down to see Heike illustrations (or start here), see more art or figures inspired by the Heike. Would you rather read? [more inside]
posted by ersatz on Nov 16, 2008 - 10 comments

Ancient, Medieval and Classic Works

In Parentheses is a collection of many ancient, medieval and classic texts from all over the world, many of whom are hard to find anywhere, let alone on the internet. There are translations from Greek, Old Norse, Medieval Irish, Japanese, Incan, Old French, Medieval Latin and many more! As well as all that they have papers in medieval studies and vaguely decadent and orientalism series. Adding to that there's a linguistics section with wordlists and language flash cards in languages such as Icelandic, Quechua, Basque, Classical Armenian and a whole bunch more. [flashcard links go to pdf files]
posted by Kattullus on Jul 10, 2008 - 18 comments

Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology

Theoi Greek Mythology is an internet encyclopedia with over 1500 pages on various characters from classical myth, covering everything from famous gods and goddesses to obscure nymphs, titans and monsters. If the confusing familial relations of the Greek gods vex you, there are 10 different family trees to help you make sense of it all. There's also an extensive library of ancient works concerning classical mythology and a bibliography should you long for more to read. Last but not least, Theoi has a gallery of over 1200 artworks from antiquity, which I have been happily browsing for a good while.
posted by Kattullus on Feb 14, 2008 - 23 comments

Parmenides

Parmenides. "The pre-Socratic philosopher sparked an intellectual revolution that still echoes today. Yet for philosophy and science to continue to progress in the 21st century, we may need to embark on an entirely new cognitive journey ."
posted by homunculus on Dec 27, 2007 - 21 comments

It is no small labor to rescue all mankind, every mother's son

The MacArthur Foundation awarded its "genius" grants yesterday. Among the winners was Jonathan Shay, a a VA psychiatrist whose midlife discovery of the Homeric epics inspired him to use their depictions of soldier bonding and cohesion, leadership, trust and betrayal, and terror and rage to treat the psychological disorders and transition difficulties of combat veterans. NPR interview.
posted by Miko on Sep 26, 2007 - 17 comments

De architectura - Vitruvius' The Ten Books of Architecture

De Architectura, known also as The Ten Books of Architecture, is an exposition on architecture by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. Originally in Latin, here it is translated into English.
posted by nthdegx on Nov 9, 2006 - 15 comments

'That is all very well, but who is to bell the Cat?'

Aesopica: Aesop's Fables in English, Latin & Greek
posted by anastasiav on Oct 25, 2006 - 17 comments

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