Sceptered Kings

A few weeks ago I watched the coronation of a king. At one point I noticed the king holding in his hands not one but two scepters. The mental image of Agamemnon holding his scepter involuntarily jumped into my thoughts and disturbed me briefly. Although there is probably no direct link, I decided to explore certain symbols of royalty in Homeric and Hesiodic poetry. Scepters were used in the ancient… Read more

Interview | Teaching and learning Greek, with Joel Christensen

We are pleased to share this video interview with Joel Christensen, of Brandeis University, in which he talks about his experiences in teaching ancient Greek and Classics. You can watch the video in the frame below, or on our YouTube channel. Related topics Interview | Teaching and learning Greek, with Suzanne Lye Interview | Teaching and learning Latin, with Bettina Joy de Guzman Beyond Translation: Decoding Ancient Greek Dictionary Entries,… 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

Heirs of the Muses

A few thoughts about Orpheus, Musaeus and other poets. It is striking to see the order in which Plato in the Apology of Socrates enumerates four Greek poets, heroes, who were part of his literary or oral poetry or musical references, and with whom Socrates would like to engage in conversation [logos] in Hades. Who wouldn’t? If, when someone arrives in the world of Hādēs, he… finds…demigods [hēmi-theoi] who were… Read more

Book Club | October 2021: Agamemnon, the Pathetic Despot

For October, we will be reading Andrew Porter’s 2019 book Agamemnon, the Pathetic Despot: Reading Characterization in Homer, available at the Center for Hellenic Studies website. That page provides an overview of his approach to the subject: Agamemnon led a ten-year-long struggle at Troy only to return home and die a pathetic death at his wife’s hands. Yet while Agamemnon’s story exerts an outsize influence—rivaled by few epic personalities—on the… Read more