Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ancient Greek and Homeric Singing

The bards of Ancient Greece, such as Demodokus the blind, would sing the epic poems for the entertainment of their audiences, frequently accompanied by a lyre.
What Demodokus might have sounded like as he sang the story of Ares and Aphrodite to Odysseus and the Phaeacians.

A reading of the opening lines of The Iliad on YouTube. See if you can read along using the text in Ancient Greek and the pronunciation key I gave you.

Check out this website for a range of classical Greek and Roman texts in the original language. It's pretty sweet: you can actually click on individual words to learn what part of speech they are; what gender they are (masculine, feminine, or neuter), what their grammatical function is, how to pronounce them according to latinic script (our letters), as well as what they mean. Check it out:
The Perseus Project

Friday, May 7, 2010

"The Myth of Innocence" by Louise Glück

[Hello, my Olympian friends! For your reading pleasure, here's a poem by a mortal named Louise Gluck. Like countless mortal poets before her, she has drawn inspiration from the classical poets of the ancient Greeks and Romans, those first mortals who chronicled our adventures and misadventures. Okay, now, I, the Huntress, am the teacher, and you, my divine friends, be the students. For homework this weekend, write a poem of your own, inspired by The Iliad, and post it to your blog. Let's see who's a better friend of the muse than the others!
the Huntress]

The Myth of Innocence
One summer she goes into the field as usual
stopping for a bit at the pool where she often
looks at herself, to see
if she detects any changes. She sees
the same person, the horrible mantle
of daughterliness still clinging to her.

The sun seems, in the water, very close.
That's my uncle spying again, she thinks—
everything in nature is in some way her relative.
I am never alone, she thinks,
turning the thought into a prayer.
Then death appears, like the answer to a prayer.

No one understands anymore
how beautiful he was. But Persephone remembers.
Also that he embraced her, right there,
with her uncle watching. She remembers
sunlight flashing on his bare arms.

This is the last moment she remembers clearly.
Then the dark god bore her away.

She also remembers, less clearly,
the chilling insight that from this moment
she couldn't live without him again.

The girl who disappears from the pool
will never return. A woman will return,
looking for the girl she was.

She stands by the pool saying, from time to time,
I was abducted, but it sounds
wrong to her, nothing like what she felt.
Then she says, I was not abducted.
Then she says, I offered myself, I wanted
to escape my body. Even, sometimes,
I willed this. But ignorance

cannot will knowledge. Ignorance
wills something imagined, which it believes exists.

All the different nouns—
she says them in rotation.
Death, husband, god, stranger.
Everything sounds so simple, so conventional.
I must have been, she thinks, a simple girl.

She can't remember herself as that person
but she keeps thinking the pool will remember
and explain to her the meaning of her prayer
so she can understand
whether it was answered or not.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Huntress Speaks Out About Apollo

Everyone thinks of my brother as a god unlike the others--he's into cool stuff like music and the arts and often comes off like he couldn't be bothered by the same drama that embroils the rest of Olympus. He just kicks back with his lyre and sings away the day. Well, I can't hold my tongue any more--Apollo is my brother and he's got a dark side blacker than Hades bottom. I mean, look how he savaged the Achaeans on the Trojan shores, launching silver arrow after silver arrow into their ranks and dropping Greek fighters without discrimination. Why didn't he just vent his spleen at Agamemnon--the jerk who called down his vengeance--and not those innocent warriors, most of whom urged Agamemnon to return Chryseis to her father, the priest Chryses? Also, you might have heard that I killed Orion--my old boyfriend--but it was Apollo's wickedness; he tricked me into accidentally killing him just because he was jealous of all the time Orion and I were spending together. Isn't that messed up? I love my brother--he's family--but I surely don't trust him.
The Huntress

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Late Breaking News: Hades Abducts Persephone; Desperate Demeter Turns the World into a Desolate Wasteland

News Journalist: I'm Roy Thompson live in Greece as this dramatic story continues to unfold. Currently Hades has stolen away to the Underworld with Persephone and is refusing to release her. Persephone's mother, Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, is distraught and crops have begun to fail all over the world. If a solution isn't found for this crisis, the lesser beings of the world, that is, humankind, will face dire food shortages and certain peril. Word from Olympus has it that Zeus will attempt to initiate talks with Hades through his emissary, Hermes. Now, to help us gain perspective on these events, I have with me Artemis, the Olympian goddess of the hunt. Artemis, what are your feelings about what Hades has done?
Artemis: Well, Roy, I'm shocked. I never thought Uncle Hades capable of something like this but surely he hadn't the best role model in his more powerful brother, my father, Zeus. I'm surprised Dad didn't stir up worse drama with all of his romantic adventuring...Uh, and, Roy, I feel deeply for Persephone and her mother. I truly hope we can work this out for everyone's best interest.
News journalist: Artemis, is there anything you would like to say to Hades, if your uncle is listening right now?
Artemis: Yes, yes there is. Uncle Hades, you've embarrassed Olympus with this rash act, you've embarrassed yourself, and now the consequences have begun to pile up. Open the gates to the underworld, Uncle Hades, and let's figure out how to fix this.
News journalist: Thank you, Artemis. The world waits in desperation for the next move of the gods. I'm Roy Thompson live in Greece.