Word Study

Gallery: Athletes in action

To tie in with this month’s Book Club readings which include the Epinician Odes of Bacchylides, this Gallery features some ancient Greek artworks featuring the kinds of athletic contests celebrated in the poems. These contests seem to have been a favorite subject in the visual as well as the verbal arts from the earliest periods. Chariot race According to Britannica “From four to six chariots competed in a single race, normally… Read more

Trees and wood | Part 3: Mythological trees

In part 1 of this series on trees and wood, I found examples of their being used for practical purposes in Homer and Hesiod, and a more detailed analysis by Theophrastus and others in part 2. I also found that Homer and Hesiod also include references to myths, rituals, and sacred spaces associated with trees and wood, including nymphs, so for part 3, this current post, I looked for further… Read more

Androgyne in myth

I became intrigued in the subject of androgyny after some of our Book Club readings. Plato, in the Symposium, reveals a myth on the origin of mankind through the speech of Aristophanes (starting at 189d). The Symposium is a series of amusing speeches on the subject of love, supposedly composed during a meal given by the young poet Agathon. Aristophanes decides to demonstrate the origin of love. In the beginning, he says,… Read more

Trees and wood | Part 2: Theophrastus on the uses of timber

“…we must endeavour to speak of timber [hulē], saying of what nature is that of each tree, what is the right season for cutting [temnein] it, which kinds are hard or easy to work, and anything else that belongs to such an enquiry.” Theophrastus Enquiry into Plants 5.1.1, adapted from translation by Holt (p417) Theophrastus, (c371–287 BCE) was a pupil of Plato and later a pupil and friend of Aristotle,… Read more

Trees and wood | Part 1: Homer and Hesiod

Having come across across references to trees and to wooden construction in the Iliad and Odyssey, my curiosity was piqued, and I decided to gather a few examples where wood and trees were mentioned, to try and better understand what these meant in Homeric and Hesiodic poetry. Are there any special associations with trees or using wood? What kinds of trees are mentioned? There are a number of similes with… Read more