Classics and the First World War: ‘Stand in the trench, Achilles’

A hundred years since the summer of 1914: people’s minds are turning to the First World War. I thought it might be of interest to spend a little time here drawing attention to some of the various ways in which this war was experienced, described and commemorated in connection with Classics. This poem was composed …

Simaetha revisited (1)

How silly is it to use a parody or joke to flag up features on an ancient text? In my post Simaetha’s letter, I provided a letter to an agony aunt, as if written by Simaetha, the speaker of Theocritus 2. This poem (a favourite of mine, which I teach as part of the first …

Beginnings and Endings (77)

And another thing… A few weeks ago I posted about beginnings and endings in ancient literature, and called the post ‘Beginnings and endings (1)’. So I must go on… Sometimes the question ‘how can an ancient poem end?’ matters. One striking ending in a modern poem is Keats’ sonnet ‘On first looking into Chapman’s Homer’; …

Simaetha’s letter

Strange things happen during the marking period… In between thinking about the first year literature course and whether I should have included more Hellenistic poetry, and looking at m’learned colleague Esther Eidinow’s ancient solutions to modern problems on this blog, I somehow came up with this: an appeal for a modern solution to an ancient …

Beginnings and Endings (1)

Helen’s last post has combined with a research paper given last week in our research seminar to make me think about beginnings and endings in Greek literature: appropriately enough, since the questions is in part ‘when to stop?’, I shall post about this in two parts. If epic means ‘a long poem about history’, this …

Aeschylus at play

Oliver Thomas has just been representing Nottingham at a conference on Aeschylus’ satyr-plays at the University of California at Davis. Here he explains why satyr-plays are important for students of Greek tragedy. Already in Aristophanes’ Frogs (405 BCE), Aeschylus’ plays are caricatured as a dramatically unsophisticated torrent of weighty verbiage. Yet every tragedy Aeschylus wrote …

When Texts Are Things: the writing’s on the wall

It would be easy to think that new material in ancient literature was confined to a small number of very rare discoveries – but actually the evidence changes all the time. Here is just one small, unspectacular but nevertheless exciting example… When I last posted here, it was about the ‘New Sappho’, forthcoming in Zeitschrift …

Aristophanes in London

Last week saw the students of both UCL and KCL put on their annual Classical plays. That gave Oliver Thomas the opportunity to see two of Aristophanes’ comedies on the same day – UCL’s Clouds, performed in translation, and KCL’s Wasps, performed in Greek with English surtitles. Two productions of early Aristophanes plays, but two …

New Sappho: not for Valentine’s Day!

So: new Sappho! Actually, there are two new Sappho papyri coming up; the one we know about has two fragments, but the most comprehensible is the one which its editor, Dirk Obbink, has called the ‘Brothers poem’, and that’s what I’ll talk about here. The best place to read about it, to see a (tidied …