Stoic quotes

“Think of the life you have lived until now as over and, as a dead man, see what’s left as a bonus and live it according to Nature. Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting?”-Marcus Aurelius

Follow me on instagram!https://www.instagram.com/_bookishitalian_/

Advertisements

LGBT movies list

I felt the need to list some movies about the LGBT community you could enjoy.

Brokeback mountain (2005).

Directed by: Ang Lee

Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Linda Cardellini, Anna Faris, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams and Andy Quaid.

Based on “Brokeback mountain” by Annie Proulx.

Running time: 2h14 min.

In the Summer of 1963 Wyoming, two young men, Ennis a ranch hand and Jack an aspiring rodeo bull rider, are sent to work together herding sheep on Brokeback Mountain, and what had otherwise been anticipated to be a rather uneventful venture, will soon turn into an affair of love, of lust, and complications that will spand through 19 years of their lives. Through marriage, through children, and through the mighty grip of societal confines and the expectations of what it is to be a man.

(Source IMDb)

Boys don’t cry (1999).

Director: Kimberly Peirce

Starring: Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III, Matt McGrath.

Running time: 118 minutes.

Based on actual events. Brandon Teena is the popular new guy in a tiny Nebraska town. He hangs out with the guys, drinking, cussing, and bumper surfing, and he charms the young women, who’ve never met a more sensitive and considerate young man. Life is good for Brandon, now that he’s one of the guys and dating hometown beauty Lana; however, he’s forgotten to mention one important detail. It’s not that he’s wanted in another town for GTA and other assorted crimes, but that Brandon Teena was actually born a woman named Teena Brandon. When his best friends make this discovery, Brandon’s life is ripped apart.

(SourceIMDb)

Milk (2008)

Director: Gus Van Sant.

Starring: Sean Penn, James Franco, Diego Luna, Alison Pill.

Running time: 2h8min.

The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California’s first openly gay elected official.

(Source IMDb)

Call me by your name (2017)

Director: Luca Guadagnino.

Starring: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar.

Based on “Call me by your name” by André Aciman.

Running time: 2h12min.

In early-1980s northern Italy, amid the lush Mediterranean landscapes of a serene and golden summer, 17-year-old, Elio, visits the family’s summer villa to spend his vacation with his father and Greco-Roman culture professor, Mr Perlman, his translator mother, Annella, and the American doctoral student who works there as an intern, Oliver. But, little by little, over the course of six fleeting weeks, a timid friendship between Elio and Oliver will prepare the ground for an unexpected bond, as the unexplored emotions of first love start boiling over. Could this sun-kissed romance in Lombardy be the prelude to maturity?

(Source IMDb. Highly recommended!!)

Moonlight

Director: Barry Jenkins.

Cast: Mahershala Ali, Alex R. Hibbert, Duan Sanderson.

Running time: 1h51min.

A young, African-American, gay man deals with his dysfunctional home life and comes of age in Miami during the “War on Drugs” era. The story of his struggle to find himself is told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love while grappling with his own sexuality.

(source IMDb)

Below her mouth (2016)

Director: April Mullen.

Starring: Erika Linder, Natalie Krill, Sebastian Pigott, Mayko Nguyen.

Running time: 92 minutes.

(You can find it on Netflix).

Jasmine is a successful fashion editor living with her fiancé in Toronto. On a night out in the city with her best friend, she meets Dallas, a female roofer recently out of a relationship. Surprised by the confidence with which the two very different women connect, Jasmine becomes infatuated with the mysterious woman who is working with a crew on the house next door to Jasmine’s. The chance meeting soon turns into desire that ignites in Jasmine which she becomes more acquainted with Dallas which leads Jasmine to accompany Dallas to her low-rent loft where the two women soon engage in a passionate affair. As much as Jasmine struggles with her feelings over being sexually involved with another woman, she fears her tryst with Dallas might ruin her engagement with her fiancé should it ever become known.

(Source Wikipedia).

Pride (2014)

Director: Matthew Warchus.

Starring: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Andrew Scott, George MacKay, Ben Schnetzer, Joseph Gilgun.

Running time: 120 minutes

In 1984 20 year old closet gay Joe hesitantly arrives in London from Bromley for his first Gay Pride march and is taken under the collective wing of a group of gay men and Lesbian Steph, who meet at flamboyant Jonathan and his Welsh partner Gethin’s Soho bookshop. Not only are gays being threatened by Thatcher but the miners are on strike in response to her pit closures and Northern Irish activist Mark Ashton believes gays and miners should show solidarity. Almost by accident a mini-bus full of gays find themselves in the Welsh village of Onllwyn in the Dulais valley and through their sincere fund raising and Jonathan’s nifty disco moves persuade most of the community that they are on the same side. When a bigot tries to sabotage the partnership with a tabloid smear Mark turns it back on her with a hugely successful benefit concert to which most of the villagers, now thoroughly in tune with their gay friends, turn up. The miners are defeated and return to work but at the Pride march the following year a vast contingent of miners show up to repay their comrades with their show of support.

(Source IMDb)

Carol (2015)

Director: Todd Haynes.

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson.

Running time: 1h58min.

In an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel The Price of Salt, CAROL follows two women from very different backgrounds who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change. A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens. While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband (Kyle Chandler) begins to question her competence as a mother as her involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) come to light.

(Source IMDb)

Boys (2014)

Director: Mischa Kamp.

Starring: Gijs Blom, Ko Zandvliet, Jonas Smulders.

Running time: 1h18min.

BOYS tells the story of Sieger, a sporty, rather quiet 15-year-old boy who discovers love during the summer holidays. Sieger is training in the new athletics team for the national relay championships and meets the intriguing and unpredictable Marc. The friendship that develops seems nothing out of the ordinary, but Sieger secretly harbours stronger feelings for Marc. He engages in a lonely struggle with himself when it emerges that Marc is also in love with him. With his best friend Stef, Sieger discovers a motocross track outside the village. Events soon take on a momentum of their own as Sieger quickly becomes involved with Jessica. At last, he counts for something in the eyes of his tough older brother Eddy, who is secretly using the track to tear around on a moped. Sieger keeps quiet about this to his father, who often clashes with the rebellious Eddy since their mother’s death. Sieger tries to make peace between the two, but his mind is elsewhere, as he finds it increasingly difficult to deny his feelings for Marc.

(Source IMDb)

Alex Strangelove (2018)

Director: Craig Johnson.

Starring: Daniel Doheny.

Running time: 1h39min.

Alex Strangelove tells the story of Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny), a well-rounded high school senior with a wonderful girlfriend Claire (Madeline Weinstein) and a bright future ahead of him – and with plans to achieve his last teenage milestone by losing his virginity. But things get complicated when he meets Elliot (Antonio Marziale), a handsome and charming gay kid from the other side of town, who unwittingly sends Alex on a roller-coaster journey of sexual exploration, kicking off a hilarious and moving adventure of love, sex and friendship in our liberated and confusing modern times.

(Source IMDb).

Those people (2015)

Director: Joey Kuhn

Starring: Jonathan Gordon, Jason Ralph, Haaz Sleiman.

Running time: 1h29min.

On Manhattan’s gilded Upper East Side, a young gay painter is torn between an obsession with his infamous socialite best friend and a promising new romance with an older foreign concert pianist.

(Source IMDb)

There are more movies out there, maybe I will write another article about them!

Happy pride month! (A bit late, isn’t it?)

-Stefania

Recensione “I pilastri della terra”

Titolo: “I pilastri della Terra”

Autore: Ken Follett

Voto: 9/10

Citazione preferita: “Io sono certa che nulla più soffocherà la mia rima, il silenzio l’ho tenuto chiuso per anni nella gola come una trappola da sacrificio, è quindi venuto il momento di cantare una esequie al passato.”

Genere: romanzo storico.

Cosa dire del maestro Ken Follett?

Ad ogni pagina, mi innamoro sempre di più di questo libro. Lo stile è limpido, scorrevole e accattivante. L’autore riesce, con semplici frasi, a catturare l’attenzione del lettore e a tenerlo incollato alla pagina. Non riuscivo a mettere giù il libro, c’era qualcosa, una sorta di mangia, che non mi permetteva di farlo. È incredibile come delle semplici parole riescano a incantarti e a portarti in un modo che hai solo provato a immaginare tra i noiosi libri di scuola. Prima non privavo un particolare interesse per il Medioevo ma, ora, sento crescere una sorta di passione che mi porta a ricercare, sempre di più, cenni su cenni riguardo quei secoli perduti.

Quei castelli lontani, quelle spregiudicate contee mi attirano come Aliena attirava Jack: mi perdo tra quegli alberi dove Ellen viveva, tra i corridoi del vivace priorato, tra i pranzi e le feste barbariche dei soldati. Mi perdo tra la fede, le preghiere sommesse, le grandi cattedrali e i miracoli improvvisi.

Ho sempre provato interesse per il passato, per gli intrighi, i sotterfugi e il tema della rivincita personale. Uno dei temi principali sembra proprio questo: la capacità di trovare delle soluzioni anche nelle situazioni più disperate. Tutti i personaggi riescono, chi più chi meno, a portare il problema dalla loro parte e a renderlo vantaggioso.

(Spoiler) Un esempio? La capacità di Aliena di superare il passato e di diventare un ricco mercante. L’instancabile ricerca di Tom che alla fine si rivela fruttuosa o la stessa Ellen, costretta a crescere un figlio nei boschi. Philip riesce, con grande maestria, a tenere a bada il convento e Jack realizza il suo sogno di costruire la cattedrale.

Sembra vi sia una sorta di giustizia divina alla fine: tutto ritorna al suo ordine naturale, i cattivi sono smascherati e cacciati mentre i buoni, nonostante le molteplici sofferenze, trionfano ottenendo la felicità.

Che sia la volontà di Dio a volerli assistere?

-Stefania

Needs

Why are humans so addicted? Why does addiction run through our veins? Also, do we really need them?

There are tons of questions in my head tonight but there are the ones I’m obsessing with and I need to find an answer.

Can we be free from our needs? From our addictions?

Because needs are addictions, they just show in different ways. Our bodies got adapted to our addictions and we just normalised them, we built our bodies upon these. A bunch of flesh and bones, that’s what er are, yet we are so complicated.

We need this..we want this (though there’s a difference but people use those sentences as synonyms) but do we really WANT?

We want and need so many things and the most wanted is freedom but do we really know what freedom is?

If we want to be free, then we should be free from our desires but can we really do that? No.

Can we be free from hunger, thirst? No.

Can we be free from money, a bed, a house? We could but we can’t. We could be homeless but how much this can last? Few months? One year? Five years? Still, that’s not freedom. We created a concept that we’ve never known and I don’t this is going to happen in the next centuries (Who knows?).

Maybe, one day, we will find the “right” way to be free but this requires centuries of evolution. How could our bodies be free from thirst or hunger? We should rewire them but how much could we last? We can stay few hours without drinking or eating then we would start craving them. Without sleeping, we could last 72 hours or more then we could be in a bad position. We aim for freedom, it’s our main goal in life but should we change word? Since we’re not completely free from our instincts and needs, how can we desire freedom? We can get the fake version, an illusion but it’s not the same. It’s incredible how we creat concepts we’ve never lived in first person. Humans are so creative, sometimes.

What is your type of “freedom”?

Greek tragedy

The Greek tragedy is a form of theatre from Ancient Greece and Asia minor. It’s widely believed to be an extension of the ancient rites done in honour of Dionysus, the god of wine, and it profoundly influenced the theatre of Ancient Rome and the Renaissance. The plots were mainly based upon myths from oral traditions and the narratives were presented by actors. The most well known Greek tragedians were Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides.

Origins.

The origins of the Greek Tragedy are still an unsolved problem. According to Aristotle, the tragedy derived by the satyr dithyramb, an Ancient Greek hymn, which was sung along witch dancing in honour of Dionysus. So we have “τραγῳδία” (tragodía) that derived from τράγος “goat” and ᾠδή “song”, means “song of the goats” (Chorus of Satyrs).

Aristotle writes in the “Poetics” that the tragedy was an improvisation “by these who led off the dithyramb”.

Then the language became more serious and the meter changed from trochaic tetramer to the iambic trimeter. There’s also another hypothesis about Thespis who combined spoken verses with choral songs. So, the tragedy developed and the actors began to interact more with each other.

The three major authors

Aeschylus established the basic rules of tragic drama. He invented the trilogy, a serie of three tragedies that told one long story, and introduced the second actor. Trilogies were performed from sunrise to sunset and, at the end, a satyr play was arranged to revive the public, possibly sad or depressed by the events showed in the play. Comparing the first tragedies with the next ones, it’s possible to see and evolution and enrichment of dialogues, contexts and theatrical effects.

We only have 7 tragedies such as the Persians, Seven against Thebes, the Orestea (Agamemnon, the Libation Bearers and the Eumenides) and the Suppliants.

Sophocles

Many innovations were introduced by Sophocles like the third actor, an increased number of chorus members, the scenery and the use of scenes. We have the Theban plays (Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone). All three plays concern the faith of Thebes during the reign of Oedipus.

Euripides

The peculiarities that distinguished the Euripidean tragedies from those of the other two authors were the technical experimentation and an extreme attention for feelings. He turned the prologue into a monologue, introduced the deus ex machina and lowered the choir’s prominence in favour of a monody sung by the characters. He portrayed the psychological traits and he was excessively realistic. He used female protagonists such as Andromaca, Phaedra and Medea.

Structure

It begins with a prologue, the we have the parodos and the stasima. The tragedy ends with the exodus. Some plays do not adhere to the classic structure.

-Stefania

Feelings

Everyday we are bombed by messages of positivity about showing emotions, empathy etc.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, we have to be decent humans but….are these things making us weak?

We are promoting sensitivity but don’t we need rationality too?

We can be both, rational and sensitive but it seems that people don’t even know anymore what being rational means. I see everyone talking about morality, ethics without even knowing what they’re saying, just because they feel like that. They don’t realise their feelings can be WRONG. You would say, there aren’t wrong or bad feelings, we should embrace them as they are but well, I have something to say.

Feelings can make us stupid, can distort our realities and make us irresponsible.

Making a campaign about feelings and how they matter, at the point to forget rationality, is making us stupid.

We have to know the right combination that can lead us to a sort of mental stability.

We have to know when our feelings are wrong, analyse them and act by consequence.

We often let ourselves sink in despair, thinking about things we couldn’t change, opinions, unrealistic ideas and we don’t understand this is only damaging us. Our feelings make us believe this is right, what we read does that too so why don’t we stop ourselves for a minute and THINK?

Think deeply, think rationally, analysing and questioning instead of only feeling?

I’m not against feelings but I’ve noticed how we are so unbalanced in life. We don’t know what limits are, we don’t know the fine line between thinking and feeling. People say it’s the same. When you ask them:” What do you THINK about it?” They answer talking about their feelings.

This is ruining us, people make bad choices believing they’re right because THEY FEEL IT.

In fact, our world is such in a bad position because they just…act?

Social justice warriors, politicians, simple people who struggle to live their lives because someone told them to follow their hearts?

Follow your head, the rest will be consequential.

-Stefania

The Iliad

“The wrath sing, goddess, of Peleus’ son, Achilles, that destructive wrath which brought countless woes upon the Achaeans, and sent forth to Hades many valiant souls of heroes, and made them themselves spoil for dogs and every bird; thus the plan of Zeus came to fulfillment, from the time when1 first they parted in strife Atreus’ son, king of men, and brilliant Achilles.”

The plot.

Nine years after the start of the Trojan War, the Greek (“Achaean”) army sacks Chryse, a town allied with Troy. During the battle, the Achaeans capture a pair of beautiful maidens, Chryseis and Briseis. Agamennon, the leader of the Achaean forces, takes Chryseis as his prize, and Achilles, the Achaeans’ greatest warrior, claims Briseis. Chryseis’s father, Chryses, who serves as a priest of the god Apollo, offers an enormous ransom in return for his daughter, but Agamemnon refuses to give Chryseis back. Chryses then prays to Apollo, who sends a plague upon the Achaean camp.After many Achaeans die, Agamemnon consults the prophet Calchas to determine the cause of the plague. When he learns that Chryseis is the cause, he reluctantly gives her up but then demands Briseis from Achilles as compensation. Furious at this insult, Achilles returns to his tent in the army camp and refuses to fight in the war any longer. He vengefully yearns to see the Achaeans destroyed and asks his mother, the sea-nymph Thetis, to enlist the services of Zeus, king of the gods, toward this end. The Trojan and Achaean sides have declared a cease-fire with each other, but now the Trojans breach the treaty and Zeus comes to their aid.With Zeus supporting the Trojans and Achilles refusing to fight, the Achaeans suffer great losses. Several days of fierce conflict ensue, including duels between Paris and Menelaus and between Hector and Ajax. The Achaeans make no progress; even the heroism of the great Achaean warrior Diomedes proves fruitless. The Trojans push the Achaeans back, forcing them to take refuge behind the ramparts that protect their ships. The Achaeans begin to nurture some hope for the future when a nighttime reconnaissance mission by Diomedes and Odysseus yields information about the Trojans’ plans, but the next day brings disaster. Several Achaean commanders become wounded, and the Trojans break through the Achaean ramparts. They advance all the way up to the boundary of the Achaean camp and set fire to one of the ships. Defeat seems imminent, because without the ships, the army will be stranded at Troy and almost certainly destroyed.Concerned for his comrades but still too proud to help them himself, Achilles agrees to a plan proposed by Nestor that will allow his beloved friend Patroclus to take his place in battle, wearing his armor. Patroclus is a fine warrior, and his presence on the battlefield helps the Achaeans push the Trojans away from the ships and back to the city walls. But the counterattack soon falters. Apollo knocks Patroclus’s armor to the ground, and Hector slays him. Fighting then breaks out as both sides try to lay claim to the body and armor. Hector ends up with the armor, but the Achaeans, thanks to a courageous effort by Menelaus and others, manage to bring the body back to their camp. When Achilles discovers that Hector has killed Patroclus, he fills with such grief and rage that he agrees to reconcile with Agamemnon and rejoin the battle. Thetis goes to Mount Olympus and persuades the god Hephaestus to forge Achilles a new suit of armor, which she presents to him the next morning. Achilles then rides out to battle at the head of the Achaean army.Meanwhile, Hector, not expecting Achilles to rejoin the battle, has ordered his men to camp outside the walls of Troy. But when the Trojan army glimpses Achilles, it flees in terror back behind the city walls. Achilles cuts down every Trojan he sees. Strengthened by his rage, he even fights the god of the river Xanthus, who is angered that Achilles has caused so many corpses to fall into his streams. Finally, Achilles confronts Hector outside the walls of Troy. Ashamed at the poor advice that he gave his comrades, Hector refuses to flee inside the city with them. Achilles chases him around the city’s periphery three times, but the goddess Athena finally tricks Hector into turning around and fighting Achilles. In a dramatic duel, Achilles kills Hector. He then lashes the body to the back of his chariot and drags it across the battlefield to the Achaean camp. Upon Achilles’ arrival, the triumphant Achaeans celebrate Patroclus’s funeral with a long series of athletic games in his honor. Each day for the next nine days, Achilles drags Hector’s body in circles around Patroclus’s funeral bier.At last, the gods agree that Hector deserves a proper burial. Zeus sends the god Hermes to escort King Priam, Hector’s father and the ruler of Troy, into the Achaean camp. Priam tearfully pleads with Achilles to take pity on a father bereft of his son and return Hector’s body. He invokes the memory of Achilles’ own father, Peleus. Deeply moved, Achilles finally relents and returns Hector’s corpse to the Trojans. Both sides agree to a temporary truce, and Hector receives a hero’s funeral.

Characters list.

Achilles – The son of the military man Peleus and the sea-nymph Thetis. The most powerful warrior in The Iliad, Achilles commands the Myrmidons, soldiers from his homeland of Phthia in Greece. Proud and headstrong, he takes offense easily and reacts with blistering indignation when he perceives that his honor has been slighted. Achilles’ wrath at Agamemnon for taking his war prize, the maiden Briseis, forms the main subject of The Iliad.

Agamemnon (also called “Atrides”)  – King of Mycenae and leader of the Achaean army; brother of King Menelaus of Sparta. Arrogant and often selfish, Agamemnon provides the Achaeans with strong but sometimes reckless and self-serving leadership. Like Achilles, he lacks consideration and forethought. Most saliently, his tactless appropriation of Achilles’ war prize, the maiden Briseis, creates a crisis for the Achaeans, when Achilles, insulted, withdraws from the war.

Patroclus – Achilles’ beloved friend, companion, and advisor, Patroclus grew up alongside the great warrior in Phthia, under the guardianship of Peleus. Devoted to both Achilles and the Achaean cause, Patroclus stands by the enraged Achilles but also dons Achilles’ terrifying armor in an attempt to hold the Trojans back.

Calchas – An important soothsayer. Calchas’s identification of the cause of the plague ravaging the Achaean army in Book 1 leads inadvertently to the rift between Agamemnon and Achilles that occupies the first nineteen books of The Iliad.

Peleus – Achilles’ father and the grandson of Zeus. Although his name often appears in the epic, Peleus never appears in person. Priam powerfully invokes the memory of Peleus when he convinces Achilles to return Hector’s corpse to the Trojans in Book 24.

Hector – A son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, Hector is the mightiest warrior in the Trojan army. He mirrors Achilles in some of his flaws, but his bloodlust is not so great as that of Achilles. He is devoted to his wife, Andromache, and son, Astyanax, but resents his brother Paris for bringing war upon their family,

Priam – King of Troy and husband of Hecuba, Priam is the father of fifty Trojan warriors, including Hector and Paris. Though too old to fight, he has earned the respect of both the Trojans and the Achaeans by virtue of his level-headed, wise, and benevolent rule. He treats Helen kindly, though he laments the war that her beauty has sparked.

Hecuba – Queen of Troy, wife of Priam, and mother of Hector and Paris.

Paris (also known as “Alexander”) –  A son of Priam and Hecuba and brother of Hector. Paris’s abduction of the beautiful Helen, wife of Menelaus, sparked the Trojan War. Paris is self-centered and often unmanly. He fights effectively with a bow and arrow (never with the more manly sword or spear) but often lacks the spirit for battle and prefers to sit in his room making love to Helen while others fight for him, thus earning both Hector’s and Helen’s scorn.

Chryseis – Chryses’ daughter, a priest of Apollo in a Trojan-allied town.

Briseis – A war prize of Achilles. When Agamemnon is forced to return Chryseis to her father, he appropriates Briseis as compensation, sparking Achilles’ great rage.

Chryses – A priest of Apollo in a Trojan-allied town.

The Gods and Immortals

Zeus– King of the gods and husband of Hera, Zeus claims neutrality in the mortals’ conflict and often tries to keep the other gods from participating in it. However, he throws his weight behind the Trojan side for much of the battle after the sulking Achilles has his mother, Thetis, ask the god to do so.

Hera – Queen of the gods and Zeus’ wife, Hera is a headstrong woman. She often goes behind Zeus’ back in matters on which they disagree, working with Athena to crush the Trojans, whom she passionately hates.

Athena – The goddess of wisdom, purposeful battle, and the womanly arts; Zeus’s daughter. Like Hera, Athena passionately hates the Trojans and often gives the Achaeans valuable aid.

Thetis – A sea-nymph and the devoted mother of Achilles, Thetis gets Zeus to help the Trojans and punish the Achaeans at the request of her angry son. When Achilles finally rejoins the battle, she commissions Hephaestus to design him a new suit of armor.

Apollo – A son of Zeus and twin brother of the goddess Artemis, Apollo is god of the sun and the arts, particularly music. He supports the Trojans and often intervenes in the war on their behalf.

Main themes.

Faith and free will: Greek literature and mythology rely heavily on the theme of fate and free will. Homer’s The Iliad is no exception. The fates of Achilles and Hector are brought up throughout the poem. More importantly, the poem seems to rest on the notion that man does not have a choice in how his life will turn out because it has already been chosen for him. For example, in Book 1, Thetis, Achilles’ mother, laments the birth of her son, alluding to his coming death during the Trojan War. Thetis behaves as if there is no escaping what has been decided by fate. Furthermore, in the following quote in Book 9, Hector treats fate and free will in the same manner:

‘Why so much grief for me?

No man will hurl me down to Death, against my fate.

And fate? No one alive has ever escaped it,

neither brave man nor coward, I tell you –

it’s born with us the day that we are born.’

Hector makes it clear to his wife, Andromache, that there is nothing anybody can do to prevent his death should it be slated to happen. According to this perspective, men have no say in the direction of their lives because fate has already decided the outcome.

Love and Friendship: the power of love and friendship is explored throughout The Iliad and is a main source of many conflicts. Romantic love, parental love, and friendship between warriors are the most common forms of love and friendship shown in the poem. The affinity between warriors is incredibly powerful, as witnessed between Achilles and Patroclus. The brotherly love between Achilles and Patroclus is more intense than any other warrior relationship exhibited in the poem, as demonstrated by the following quote spoken by Patroclus to Achilles:

‘But one thing more. A last request – grant it, please.

Never bury my bones apart from yours, Achilles,

let them lie together …

just as we grew up together in your house.’

The two men are so close that Patroclus wants to be buried along with Achilles in the same way as family would be buried together. Friendship between warriors is necessary to maintain morale during wartime, but it also extends beyond the battlefield. This brotherly friendship is what sparks Achilles’ decision to avenge Patroclus’s death by killing Hector. After killing Hector, Priam comes to claim his son’s body, and it is the understanding of love and friendship that convinces Achilles to let Priam have his son’s body.

This is also called φιλία.

The glory of war: throughout the Iliad the theme of glory in war is developed. Agamemnon displays his power that he thinks he has through disrespecting the gods. He has felt so much glory and fame from won wars that he seems to think that he is untouchable. There are other warriors such as Achilles that do no feel the same because they realize from past mistakes and trials that you cannot always win. For example, Achilles gave up many comforts that he could have had from staying home. He gave up a long and boring life that could have been spent with other people enjoying spoils. Instead the idea of going to war and proving his honor and integrity is a path that he follows sometimes willingly and other times it seems not. 

Υβρις (hybris): describes a personality quality of extreme or foolish pride or dangerous overconfidence, often in combination with (or synonymous with) arrogance.

Burial while martial epics naturally touch upon the subject of burial, The Iliad lingers over it. The burial of Hector is given particular attention, as it marks the melting of Achilles’ crucial rage. The mighty Trojan receives a spectacular funeral that comes only after an equally spectacular fight over his corpse. Patroclus’s burial also receives much attention in the text, as Homer devotes an entire book to the funeral and games in the warrior’s honor. The poem also describes burials unconnected to particular characters, such as in Book 7, when both armies undertake a large-scale burial of their largely unnamed dead. The Iliad’s interest in burial partly reflects the interests of ancient Greek culture as a whole, which stressed proper burial as a requirement for the soul’s peaceful rest. However, it also reflects the grim outlook of The Iliad, its interest in the relentlessness of fate and the impermanence of human life.

In the next article, I will write about the Odyssey.

-Stefania

The Odyssey

The Odyssey is considered the first “novel” of the european literature.

The plot

Ten years after the fall of Troy, the victorious Greek hero Odysseus has still not returned to his native Ithaca. A band of rowdy suitors, believing Odysseus to be dead, has overrun his palace, courting his faithful wife, Penelope, and going through his stock of food. With permission from Zeus, the goddess Athens, Odysseus’ greatest immortal ally, appears in disguise and urges Odysseus’ son Telemachus to seek news of his father at Pylos and Sparta. However, the suitors, led by Antinous, plan to ambush him upon his return.As Telemachus tracks Odysseus’ trail through stories from his old comrades-in-arms, Athena arranges for the release of Odysseus from the island of the beautiful goddess Calypso, whose prisoner and lover he has been for the last eight years. Odysseus sets sail on a makeshift raft, but the sea god Poseidon, whose wrath Odysseus incurred earlier in his adventures by blinding Poseidon’s son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, conjures up a storm. With Athena’s help, Odysseus reaches the Phaeacians. Their princess, Nausicaa, who has a crush on the handsome warrior, opens the palace to the stranger. Odysseus withholds his identity for as long as he can until finally, at the Phaeacians’ request, he tells the story of his adventures.Odysseus relates how, following the Trojan War, his men suffered more losses at the hands of the Kikones, then were nearly tempted to stay on the island of the drug-addled Lotus Eaters. Next, the Cyclops Polyphemus devoured many of Odysseus’ men before an ingenious plan of Odysseus’ allowed the rest to escape but not before Odysseus revealed his name to Polyphemus and thus started his personal war with Poseidon. The wind god Ailos then provided Odysseus with a bag of winds to aid his return home, but the crew greedily opened the bag and sent the ship to the land of the giant, man-eating Laistrygonians, where they again barely escaped. On their next stop, the goddess Circe tricked Odysseus’ men and turned them into pigs. With the help of the god Hermes, Odysseus defied her spell and metamorphosed the pigs back into men. They stayed on her island for a year in the lap of luxury, with Odysseus as her lover, before moving on and resisting the temptations of the seductive and dangerous Sirens, navigating between the sea monster Scylla and the whirlpools of Charybdis, and plumbing the depths of Hades to receive a prophecy from the blind seer Tiresias. Resting on the island of Helios, Odysseus’ men disobeyed his orders not to touch the oxen. At sea, Zeus punished them and all but Odysseus died in a storm. It was then that Odysseus reached Calypso’s island.Odysseus finishes his story, and the Phaeacians hospitably give him gifts and ferry him home on a ship. Athena disguises Odysseus as a beggar and instructs him to seek out his old swineherd, Eumaeus; she will recall Telemachus from his own travels. With Athena’s help, Telemachus avoids the suitors’ ambush and reunites with his father, who reveals his identity only to his son and swineherd. He devises a plan to overthrow the suitors with their help.In disguise as a beggar, Odysseus investigates his palace. The suitors and a few of his old servants generally treat him rudely as Odysseus sizes up the loyalty of Penelope and his other servants. Penelope, who notes the resemblance between the beggar and her presumably dead husband, proposes a contest: she will, at last, marry the suitor who can string Odysseus’ great bow and shoot an arrow through a dozen axe heads. Only Odysseus can pull off the feat. Bow in hand, he shoots and kills the suitor Antinous and reveals his identity. With Telemachus, Eumaeus, and his goatherd Philoitios at his side, Odysseus leads the massacre of the suitors, aided only at the end by Athena. Odysseus lovingly reunites with Penelope, his knowledge of their bed that he built the proof that overcomes her skepticism that he is an impostor. Outside of town, Odysseus visits his ailing father, Laertes, but an army of the suitors’ relatives quickly finds them. With the encouragement of a disguised Athena, Laertes strikes down the ringleader, Antinous’ father. Before the battle can progress any further, Athena, on command from Zeus, orders peace between the two sides.

The plot is more complicated that the Iliad’s one, the social context is really different and more advanced, women are more present, the psychological aspects are really evidenced and Gods are less present (We mainly see Athena and Poseidon).

Characters list

Odysseus

The contradictions extend to Odysseus’ intellect. Blessed with great physical strength, he has an equally keen mind that bails him out of many difficulties. There is no better “improviser” or “strategist” in Greek mythology, though the label attached is often “cunning” or “deceiver”; indeed, many Greeks saw Odysseus’ habit of lying as a vice and a weakness. His predilecyion for disguise complements his ability to make up plausible stories about his background. Although Odysseus’ ingenuity comes across as his chief weapon, his Achilles’ heel is the frequency with which he falls victim to temptation and makes bad tactical errors (when adding insult to injury to Polyphemus and revealing his true name). Still, Odysseus is aware of this flaw, and bids his men to tie him up when they pass by the Sirens, the exemplars of temptation. By the end of his journey, he has learned to resist temptation, willingly suffering abuse by the suitors to meet his eventual goal of destroying them.

Telemachus

Odysseus’ son, Telemachus is extremely scared of the suitors at the beginning but, thanks to Athena, he becomes braver and an assured, mature, young man ready to fight them. We clearly see a character development.

Penelope

Extremely wise and beautiful, Odysseus’ wife is contended by many man and tries everything to not get married with one of them because she’s waiting for his beloved husband. It’s described as extremely intelligent-like the husband- and cunning, especially when she pretends to accept to marry one of the suitors. She’s the representation of faith and devotion in marriage.

The suitors

They ungratefully live off Odysseus’ estate in their pursuit of the beautiful and wealthy Penelope. They revel nightly with Odysseus’ food and his willing female servants and bully around Telemakhos, defying the sacred Greek value of “xenia” (hospitality). Homer’s unsympathetic portrait of them ensures that the audience enjoys the suitors’ extremely violent end.

Circe

Circe is a goddess of magic or sometimes a nymph, witch, enchantress or sorceress in Greek mythology. She’s the Titan Helios’ daughter.

Nausicaa

She is the daughter of King Alcinous and her name, in greek, means “burner of ships”. She’s the first to help Odysseus when he is shipwrecked on the coast of Scheria, an island.

Themes

Hospitality

Zeus himself, king of the gods, is known as the greatest advocate of hospitality and the suppliants who request it; yet even he allows the sea god Poseidon to punish the Phaeacians for their generous tradition of returning wayfarers to their homelands. Civilized people make an investment in hospitality to demonstrate their quality as human beings and in hopes that their own people will be treated well when they travel. Hospitality, or the lack of it, affects Odysseus throughout the epic. An example?Odysseus’ own home has been taken over by a horde of suitors who crudely take advantage of Ithaca’s long-standing tradition of hospitality.

Loyalty/perseverance

The most accurate example of loyalty in the epic is, of course, Penelope, who waits faithfully for 20 years for her husband’s return. Another example is Telemachus, who stands by his father against the suitors.

Vengeance

Poseidon and Odysseus are the most noticeable examples of the theme of vengeance. In order to escape from the cave of Polyphemus, Odysseus blinds the one-eyed giant. Unfortunately, the Cyclops is the sea god Poseidon’s son; Odysseus has engaged a formidable enemy. Poseidon can’t kill Odysseus because the Fates have determined that he will make it home. However, the sea god can help to fulfill his son’s wish that Odysseus should arrive in Ithaca late, broken, and alone.

Odysseus gets his revenge on the suitors and his disloyal servants. He kill them all in the 22nd book.

Spiritual growth

The theme of spiritual growth is central to The Odyssey, especially as it relates to Telemachus and Odysseus. When the epic opens, Telemachus is desperate and he doesn’t know how to fight the suitors. Then we see this change and, helped by Athena, He faces various barriers, falters temporarily, but eventually prevails. Odysseus’ growth is less linear. He was already quite a man when he left for the Trojan War 20 years before. His trials have more to do with refinement of spirit; his growth is in the kind of wisdom and judgment that will make him a better king.

The meter

How are we supposed to read this epic poem?

In the greek language, reading follows a certain rhythm that we call “meters”. There are different types but the meter used here is called hexameter. This is also used in latin.

A dactylic hexameter has six feet. In strict dactylic hexameter, each foot would be a dactyl (a long and two short syllables), but classical meter allows for the substitution of a spondee (two long syllables) in place of a dactyl in most positions.The sixth foot can be filled by either a trochee (a long then short syllable) or a spondee.

Here we have the dactylic meter:

u u | — u u | — u u | — u u | — u u | — X

Hexameter also have a caesura, a break between words and there are frequent enjambements.

This could be an interesting source to know more about it Hexameter .

(Latin and greek dactylic hexameters are a bit different but not much. The basic concept is the same).

-Stefania

The Homeric Question

The Homeric Question concerns the doubts and consequent debate over the identity of Homer, the authorship of the Iliad and the Odyssey and their historicity. The subject has its roots in classical antiquity and the scholarship of the Hellenistic period, but has flourished among Homeric Scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The main questions were:”Who is Homer?” “Were the Iliad and the Odyssey written by a singular poet or multiple poets?” “How old are the oldest elements in Homeric poetry which can be dated with. certainty?”

About Homer we only have few historical proofs and they’re almost legendary. The origins of the name could be two:

  1. Ό μή ορων “the person who can’t see”, referring to his blindness;
  2. Όμερος, hostage (according to Aristotle).

There are 7 possible cities where he lived in. We have this epigram:

“Επτά πόλεις μάρναντο σοφήν διά ρίζαν Ομήρου,

Σμύρνα, Χιος, Χολοφών, Ιθακη, Πύλος, Άργος, Αθήναι”

“Seven cities bragged to be the birthplace of Homer:

Smyrna, Chio, Colophon, Ithaca, Pilum, Argo, Athene”

Since the Alexander age, Zenodotus, Aristophane and Aristarchus studied both the Iliad and the Odyssey removing all the mistakes and the changes caused by the oral transmission. They divided the poems in 24 books, indicated with lowercase greek letters in the Odyssey and uppercase in the Iliad. The edition also contained well detailed comments. In Alexandria, philologists started discussing about Homer and his origins so there were two different schools of thought:

  1. χωρίζοντες or “the separatists”: they thought the authors were different because ther were too many different styles and topics;
  2. “The units” who thought the author was only one.

According to an anonymous author, in one of his treaty, Homer wrote the Iliad in his youth and the Odyssey in the old-age.

During the Middle age, the poems remained unknown. Only in the Reinassance, Demetrio Calcondilla (1488) translated the epic poems. In 1664, François Hédelin, in his written document “Conjectures académiques ou Dissertation sur l’Iliade”, denied Homer’s existence and he considered the epic poems as a collection of oral stories.

According to Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), Homer was the symbol of Greece and he gave a big cultural importance to these poems.

August Wolf (1759-1824) denied Homer’s existence and he said the poems were only a collection of traditions an old stories transmitted orally. In modern times, philologists reached a conclusion that makes us see different the matter in question. According to them, we should ask ourselves how Homer used oral trading. However, we agree that Homer has probably never existed and the epic poems were mainly composed by Greek poems (αοιδός) and rhapsodes (ραψώδος).

About the oral tradition.

Most classicists agree that the poems attributed to him are to some degree dependent on oral tradition, a generations-old technique that was the collective inheritance of many singer-poets (or αωδοι, aōidoi). An analysis of the structure and vocabulary of the Iliad and Odyssey shows that the poems contain many regular and repeated phrases. So according to the theory, the Iliad and Odyssey may have been products of oral formulaic composition , composed on the spot by the poet using a collection of memorized traditional verses and phases. Parry and Lord have pointed out that such elaborate oral tradition is typical of epic poetry in an exclusively oral culture . The crucial words here are “oral” and “traditional”. Parry starts with the former: the repetitive chunks of language, he says, were inherited by the singer-poet from his predecessors, and were useful to him in composition. Parry calls these repetitive verses “formulas”.

An example of formular verses:

“Ηώς δ´εκ λεχέων παρ´αγαυου Τιθονοιο

ώρνυθ,ίν αθανάτοισι φόως φέροι ηδέ βροτοισιν”

“Aurora (a goddess) near the noble Titono arose

Out of the bed, to bring the light to immortals and mortals”

We also have epithets that are used to specify a character’s personality or places or objects. Patronymics are used to specify a component of a personal name based on the given name of one’s father, grandfather.

If you want to read more about Parry and Lord, this is a good source: https://chs.harvard.edu/CHS/article/display/6110.part-i-the-‘homeric-question’-1-dictation-theories-and-pre-hellenic-literacy

-Stefania