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
). Or you can listen to her discuss Memorial on the Poetry Trust podcast (iTunes
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
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]
, 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]
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
, 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
, Yeat's Autobiographies
and a few others than have an assured income of a million dollars a year."
"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]
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.
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.
"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]
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
. 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]
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]
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]
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
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]
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
"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.
"Explosive sex with Mr Rochester," anyone? A publisher
decides to add more sex to Jane Eyre
and other classics.
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.
Filipaj worked as a custodian for 20 years to finance learning English, then Latin and Greek.
he'll keep working at Columbia while continuing to study, rather than looking to move to a more lucrative job immediately.
With Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
), 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]
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]
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]
is having a Cat Week, and one of the features is "Kitty Lit 101"
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.
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
and his thoughts on anything from education
. 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.
'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]
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.
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]
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.
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.
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
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
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
inspired by the Heike. Would you rather read? [more inside]
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
, Old French
, Medieval Latin
and many more! As well as all that they have papers in medieval studies
and vaguely decadent
series. Adding to that there's a linguistics section
with wordlists and language flash cards in languages such as Icelandic
, Classical Armenian
and a whole bunch more. [flashcard links go to pdf files]
Theoi Greek Mythology
is an internet encyclopedia with over 1500 pages on various characters from classical myth, covering everything from famous gods
to obscure nymphs
. 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.
"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 ."
, 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.