Homer and Ovid are dead. Such has been the case for some time now. Aristophanes, Strabo, Herodotus, Apollonius, Euripides and Sophocles – all long-deceased. Cicero, Livy, Plinies both Elder and Younger, Caesar, Frontinus, Cornelius Nepos, Tacitus and Sallust – not one of them reads or replies to correspondence these days.
Still alive and accessible, of course, are their writings (some of them, at least) and the locations they looked upon, the seas they navigated and the climate in which they wrote and lived.
In the coming 11 weeks or so (with a couple of weeks off at home in Bristol UK interspersed among them) I shall be trying to get to know them a bit better, by visiting some of those locations, musing on the extent to which it is possible to see any stones and rocks which they brushed against, feel any atmosphere which affected their mood, and soak up any sense of their surroundings. Thereby perhaps I might understand a little more this period of a thousand years or so that represents so much enjoyment and intrigue for me.
I shall be posting thoughts and responses as I go, as often as wi-fi allows, and tying these in to some source passages. Some of the titles and authors I plan to use in the first 3 weeks are below, as a sort of taster…
- Monday 24th April (Piraeus): Aristophanes on how Themistocles added fresh fish to the dinner table
- Tuesday 25th April (Mykonos): Strabo on baldness
- Wednesday 26th April (Delos): Homer on the beauty of palm trees, and Pseudo-Homer on islands that can talk
- Thursday 27th April (Naxos): Herodotus on large sums of money and where to find them
- Friday 28th April (Santorini): Apollonius of Rhodes on casting clods into the depths
- Sunday 30th April (Crete): Homer on an island with ninety towns
- Monday 1st May (Crete): Homer on a sea with eighty black ships
- Tuesday 2nd May (Knossos): Euripides on sacrifices and monuments of stone
- Wednesday 3rd May (Thebes): Sophocles on the wounds that give us the sharpest pains, and the fairest of lights
- Thursday 4th May (Larissa): Pausanias on a boar that drowned all the inhabitants of a city
- Friday 5th May (Thessaloniki): Cicero on the anxiety of awaiting a loved one’s arrival
- Saturday 6th May (Sofia): Livy on the lowlands of Thrace
- Sunday 7th May (Plovdiv): Pliny the Elder on the forefathers of the poet Orpheus
- Tuesday 9th May (Varna): Diodorus Siculus on the benefits of surprise sieges
- Wednesday 10th May (Constanta): Apollodorus on a town named after the severed limbs of unfortunate children
- Thursday 11th May (Constanta): Ovid on making poetry in the wilderness, and how it’s like gesturing in the dark