Homer in English

I’ve been fascinated with Homer’s poems since I was a teenager, but the only language I understand is English (and not always that). I wondered what I was getting by way of translations: good poetry, good reconstruction of a performance piece for reading, or just wordiness. There are 110 translations of the Iliad into English … More Homer in English

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Sacred

A word meaning set aside for religious purposes, or arousing feelings of awe associated with the divine. Or coping with immanence. ’Sacred’ is related to the word ‘holy’, which carries the same meanings, and which is derived from the word ‘whole’ (OED). (’Sacré bleu’ BTW was originally ’sacré dieu’). The sacred is a useful concept. … More Sacred

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The Saga of Atreus

The vendetta in the House of Atreus is a story set in the earliest period of Greek history, when Indo-European language speaking tribes began moving into the Balkan peninsula and Anatolia about 1400 BC-1200 BC from the Steppes region. The vendetta culminated in the attack by Greeks on Troy, written about by Homer in the … More The Saga of Atreus

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Travellers’ tales

I began writing this essay thinking to review some favourite books of travels. After adding just one more, and one more, it belatedly occurred to me I had bitten off more than I could, er, chew. Aren’t all books books of travel? Don’t we travel in the wonderful world of the imagination when we read … More Travellers’ tales

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Dangerous enchantment

I can still remember being enchanted when a child by fairy stories. Tales of the Brothers Grimm or of Charles Perrault, or Hans Christian Andersen or the One Thousand Nights and One Night, they include figures like Hansel and Gretel, Puss in Boots, Jack the Giant Killer and Aladdin. Associated with them are the stories … More Dangerous enchantment

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Other realms

Human beings are confined to the evidence of their senses in exploring the world of which they are a part. But we want more: the senses tell us how; but we want to know why. To find out why though, we have to use our imagination. No matter how bolstered up it is with assurances … More Other realms

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Black Sea letters

There are two mysteries about the Roman poet Ovid. The first one is political. After 30 years of fame in Rome as a wildly fashionable poet, Ovid, aged 50, was exiled to Tomis in present day Romania, a port on the western shore of the Black Sea, spent his last 10 years there, and died … More Black Sea letters

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