Topic for Discussion

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


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

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