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The Ship of State

A ship operated by a dysfunctional crew is the metaphor of Plato when discussing the problems of governance in a political system not based on expert knowledge. The teller of this parable, Adeimantus, firstly asks his listener, Socrates, to imagine a ship which is in a state of mutiny, with sailors who are quarreling about the steering and take possession of the ship.[1] Hieronymus Bosch: The Ship of Fools, c.… Read more

Open House | Iliad 6 “War Crimes” with Joel Christensen

We are delighted to welcome back Professor Joel Christensen, of Brandeis University, to join members of the Kosmos Society for an Open House discussion on “Violence and War Crimes in Iliad 6.” As Professor Christensen writes in his Substack post noted below: The story of excessive violence in the Iliad is that of the rejection of conventions meant to make war in some way predictable and ‘acceptable’ to the combatants.… Read more

Book Club | May 2024: Heron of Byzantium Siegecraft

Everything about siege machines is difficult and hard to understand, either because of the intricacy and inscrutability of their depiction, or because of the difficulty of comprehending the concepts, or, to say it better, because of their incomprehensibility to most men… The most competent military commander, kept safe by Providence above because of his piety, and obedient to the command and judgment and good counsel of our most divine emperors,… Read more

Gallery: Three Ancient Greek Monsters

There are many references to monsters in ancient Greek texts, some with detailed descriptions. This Gallery illustrates how just three of them were depicted in the visual arts: Scylla, the Hydra, and the Chimera. Scylla When Circe warns Odysseus that his journey must take him past the dangers posed by Scylla, who lives up in a sheer cliff face, she provides a vivid description of what he will face: …… Read more

Titanophobia

O Mighty Titans, who from heav’n and earth Derive your noble and illustrious birth… Avert your rage, if from th’ infernal seats One of your tribe should visit our retreats.[1] Zeus is the king of the Greek gods on Mount Olympus, but “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”[2] In the first book of the Iliad the hero Achilles tells the tale of his mother the goddess Thetis rescuing… Read more

Women and Goddesses in the Epic of Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh is a Babylonian epic, recorded in Akkadian on a number of ancient tablets. Gilgamesh is thought to have lived around 2,800 – 2,500 BCE[1], and most of the tablets, telling the standard version of the story, are thought to date from the seventh century BCE. Stephanie Dalley also gives an earlier version in her book, called the Old Babylonian Version, dating to around the early second millennium[2]. There are… Read more

Book Club | April 2024: Juvenal Satires

“Yet what state did Xerxes return in, on relinquishing Salamis? He vented his savage rage by lashing the winds, Caurus, Eurus, Who’d never experienced the like even in their Aeolian prison, He bound Poseidon, the Earthshaker himself, with chains, (That was lenient. What? Didn’t he think him worth branding Too? What god would have chosen to be that man’s slave?) What state was he in? In a single ship, of course, sailing the Bloodstained waves, his prow slowly pushing… Read more

Open House | Thebes, with Paul Cartledge

We are delighted to welcome Paul Cartledge, of Clare College, University of Cambridge, to join members of the Kosmos Society for an Open House discussion on ‘Thebes: the lost city of ancient Greece’ Thebes, the third largest city in ancient Greece, is often considered a backwater, lacking culture and art. In fact, Thebes was the site of many important Greek myths, including Oedipus and The Seven Against Thebes, as well… Read more

Athena, Protector of Cities

Following the exploration of Aphrodite and Artemis in the shorter Homeric Hymns, it’s Athena’s turn. There are two hymns: 11 and 28. I start with the shorter one: Homeric Hymn (11) to Athena [1] Of Pallas Athene, city-protector [erusi-ptolis], I begin to sing. Terrible [deinos] is she, and with Ares she loves deeds of war [polemēios], the sacking [perthesthai] of cities [polis] and the shouting [aütē] and wars [ptolemos]. It… Read more

Nerites: Father of Love

Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, was born of the severed genitals of the primordial sky-god Uranus when his son Cronus tossed them into the barren sea. Foam-born Aphrodite came to life among the gentle sea deities of the Aegean. Being born without a mother is not such an odd occurrence in Greek mythology. Athena sprang forth from Zeus’ brow fully-grown and fully-armed. Dionysus was born of his father… Read more

Upcoming Events

May
29
Wed
11:00 am Herodotus Translation Study Group
Herodotus Translation Study Group
May 29 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
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May
31
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4:00 pm Plato Meno
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3
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9:00 am Odyssey Study Group (Phaeacians)
Odyssey Study Group (Phaeacians)
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11:30 am Poetry Study Group (Mnēmai)
Poetry Study Group (Mnēmai)
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1:00 pm Iliad Study Group (Scamandrians)
Iliad Study Group (Scamandrians)
Jun 3 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
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10:00 am Latin
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3:00 pm Euripides Medea (Thespians)
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Jun 4 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
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5
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11:00 am Herodotus Translation Study Group
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7
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11:00 am Social Zoom
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Jun 7 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
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4:00 pm Plato Meno
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