Wednesday, January 03, 2018

First Post

Well, it is the new year and I have started the Aeneid. Turns out I actually really like it. It's not as gruesome as the Iliad, and not as discursive as the Odyssey, and spends less time on the sunrises.

It's still about the Trojan War, though. Apparently it took several centuries for everyone to get over that one. Only this is the story of the losers. History may be written by the winners, but poetry is written for the losers--or in this case, the current winners who want to remind everyone how they started out as losers.

Besides Troy, the thing these books have in common that is almost impossible for modern retellings to recreate is the sense of the gods as the primary actors. Moderns may try, but we cannot entirely take it seriously; we think they must just be putting it on and revert to cynicism as soon as they are offstage. But it's not really about the adventures of Aeneas; it's about Juno's and Venus's plans to check and counter-check each other and poor mortals just get caught in the middle.

Maybe they were wrong, but then, maybe they had a better appreciation of their limits than we do.

I'm not great at reading epic poetry--there are a lot of allusions to other places and people that I certainly don't want to bother digging out, so then I start skimming and then I realized I missed a key clue as to who is talking or doing something because they will use three or four names for the same entity. Poetic variation is overrated.

In other readings, I'm still finishing up Heretics by Chesterton and Napoleon's Buttons by Penny Le Couteur. And I just got Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency in from the library, but I haven't started it yet.

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