05 December 2008

fagles homer

"Got that?"

Someone very attentive and kind has given me the Fagles and already I am sitting back guffawing - not at Homer or the deft translation but Bernard Knox's humour in his introduction, which I am dragging out for as long as I can and doubling back on any bits I nod over or miss.

We're onto oral and written traditions and the fact that extant specimens of alphabetic writing of the 8th and early 7th centuries B.C. make it unlikely that a scribe of the period could have taken dictation anywhere near performance speed.

"One critic, in fact, irreverently conjured up a picture of Homer dictating the first line (or rather the first half-line) of the Iliad:

"Mênin aeide thea ... You got that?"

I just sat back and howled.

Updates of Bombay atrocities coming in on the tele; the spiti crumbling with age around our heads; stock values plummeting ... and I'm crapping myself at a sly joke inspired by the Odyssey?

There's hope for the lad yet.

"Vivid, wise, enormously engaging" - Philip Pullman (no less)

And let's not forget how I got here in the first place: Charlotte Higgins' wondrously effortless and informative read, It's All Greek to Me.

Go now - online or afoot - and buy it.

Not for you , of course, you ignorami who read blogs like this (pace Sinbad who is my token brane and swot).

For your worldly pals who have a life and hobnob with the likes of Nat and frolic in the wine-red sea.

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