Category Archives: Literature[post_grid id="10051"]
And I said to him: ‘Who are those two poor sinnerswho give off smoke like wet hands in the winterand lie so close to you upon the right?’‘I found them here,’ he answered, ‘when I raineddown to this rocky slope; they’ve not stirred sinceand will not move, I think, eternally.One is the lying woman who blamed Joseph;the other, lying Sinon, Greek from Troy . . .’Dante’s Inferno, Canto XXX. 91-98
- Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: The Inferno. Trans. Allen Mandelbaum. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.
- Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Romans and Aliens. London: Duckworth, 1979.
- Campbell, Celia. “Sinon and the Hatred of Odysseus. Vergilius, Vol. 63 (2017): 3-20.
- Hadjittofi, Fotini. “Res Romanae: Cultural Politics in Quintus and Nonnus.” In Quintus Smyrnaeus: Transforming Homer in Second Sophistic epic. Baumbach, Manuel, Silvio Bär, and Nicola Dümmler, eds. New York: Walter De Gruyter, 2007.
- Hardie, Philip R. The Epic Successors of Virgil: A Study in the Dynamics of a Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
- Horsfall, Nicholas. Virgil, Aeneid 2: A Commentary. Mnemosyne, Supp. 299. Leiden: Brill, 2008.
- Keith, Arthur L. “The Sinon Episode in Vergil.” The Classical Weekly, Vol. 15, No. 18 (Mar. 1922): 140-42.
- Lloyd-Jones, Hugh. Sophocles. Fragments. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996.
- Lynch, John P. “Laocoön and Sinon: Virgil, ‘Aeneid’ 2.40-198.” Greece & Rome, Second Series, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Oct. 1980): 170-79.
- Sutton, Dana F. The Lost Sophocles. Lanham: University Press of America, 1984.
- ter Vrugt-Lentz, J. “Sinon und Zopyros.” Mnemosyne, Fourth Series, Vol. 20, Fasc. 2 (1967): 168-71.
- [viii] Hadjittofi 2007: 368. For an idea of Roman consideration of the Greeks, compare Balsdon 1979: “With the Greeks the Romans had a love-hate relationship. For the broad mass of contemporary Greeks, the majority of Romans at all times in their history felt unbridled contempt. . . Greeks were (crooks and) sycophants who could never be trusted on oath to tell the truth, for they regarded the giving of evidence on oath as ‘a great game'” (ibid.: 30, 31-32).
“The abundance of sins tends to throw Christians into confusion. As a result of this our Lord wanted to give us a warning, comparing the kingdom of heaven to a net cast into the sea which catches up many fishes of every kind from different places. When they have been pulled to the shore, the fishermen separate them, placing the good ones in barrels, the bad they put back in the sea”. – Augustine
“Let not the simplicity of scripture nor the poverty of its vocabulary offend you, for these are due either to the faults of translators or else to a deliberate purpose, for in its way it is better fitted for the instruction of the unlettered congregation as the educated person can take one meaning and the uneducated another from one and the same sentence.”
“The holy one went out after being handed over for punishment…his magnificent head was encircled with a crown woven of thorns, because in his mercy he took upon himself all the thorns of our misfortunes…he was hung high on the spreading cross, transforming the anger of the crisis by means of loving devotion…suddenly a horrendous darkness fell, taking possession of the whole sky, covering the shadowy daylight with gloomy mourning; the sun buried…just as for three hours the darkened stars hid…so for three days the Lord endured imprisonment in the cave that was his tomb” – Sedulius
Hot on such esteemed heels we now come to the only Latin novel that is extant in its entirety.
Not only that, but it is probably the only substantial piece of prose from the ancient world that can hold its own in the modern sense. It does not largely (or solely) rely on being ‘of interest’ or ‘historical importance’, but is instead that most elusive and wonderful of things: a elegant piece of literature and entertainment in its own right.
At this point regular readers will be expecting the almost stock-phrase: ‘Unfortunately we have almost no biographical information about [inset name] and what we do have is highly dubious’.
The fact that the bride was enormously wealthy, as well as significantly advanced in years, convinced the family he had bewitched her and poisoned him.
Apuleius’ tongue-in-cheek (and victorious) legal defense, A Discourse on Magic, is his other, significant, surviving work.
- A nobleman engages in activities not worthy of his station
- He dabbles in the dark arts
- He is accidentally transformed into a donkey
- This incarnation allows him to spy on private conversations and see all sorts of ribald behavior
- He suffers greatly before regaining human form
“A nobleman should not play with black magic: he should satisfy his spiritual needs by being initiated into a respectable mystery cult along with men of his own station”.
However, it is the last step to which Apuleius gives his most serious attention.
It seems the black magic accusations against him caused some to see The Golden Ass as a literal memoir rather than an amusing recruitment tool… or indeed a work solely of wit and whimsy.
The Christian community, or at least its intelligentsia, were apparently genuinely troubled that Apuleius’ miraculous exploits were perceived as even more wonderful than those of Christ. Indeed, several centuries later, the Inquisition did their utmost to transform The Golden Ass once and for all into ashes.
One explanation for the disconnect lies not in innate practical differences, but in the lack of a codified text. In other words, there’s no Ancient Greek bible.
Or is there?
So what of Hesiod’s epic piece, the Theogony? Is there any case to make for a polytheistic bible?
“[Zeus] took the fatted portion in his hands and raged within, and anger seized his heart to see the trick, the white bones of the ox. And from this time the tribes of men on earth burn, on the smoking altars, white ox-bones”.
Moreover, we are precisely told our distance away from our Divine keepers, provided we know how big an anvil is and have a working knowledge of physics (which, alas, I don’t – write in if you do!):
“An anvil made of bronze, falling from heaven, would fall nine nights and days, and on the tenth would reach the earth; and if the anvil fell from earth, would fall again nine nights and days and come to Tartarus upon the tenth”.
In addition to the origins of creation, sacrifice, the wars that shaped the universe and a travel guide to heaven, Hesiod’s work supplies us with some charming etymological snippets – some thought to have been coined by the poet himself.
Hesiod (and even more so Homer) is far more akin to Dante or Milton i.e. (presumably) pious, with a god-given talent and a god-thirsty audience.
However you wish to view Hesiod, as prophet, poet, public servant, or even some combination of the three, his work has stood the test of so much time that it almost boggles belief.
“When a man has sorrow newly on his mind and grieves until his heart is parched within, if a bard, the servant of the Muses, sings the glorious deeds the men of old performed, and hymns the blessed ones, Olympian gods, at once that man forgets his heavy heart, and has no memory of any grief, so quick the Muses’ gift diverts his mind.”