Adieu...

As I begin to draft my conclusion for this class, I find myself with that familiar pressure in my chest that always makes me feel, "I just need some more time!" Do I need more time to continue my blog? Well, yes, being the chronic procrastinator I am, I could use more time for my blog. I mean, it may have taken me two semesters with Dr. Sexson, but I am finally liking this e-journal thing. What a way to force myself to expand my fleeting thoughts. But as I continue to feel that I need more time, I realize that it's not my blog I want more time with, it's this class. It's classical literature. I could spend days, years wrapped up in Ovid's Metamorphoses and still want more. This is the first semester that I have dreaded the end, mostly because I have dreaded the end of some of the great classes I have taken (classical foundations is at the top of that list) and the depth with which we studied the classics.

One fellow student told me towards the beginning of the semester that he didn't know how all of these things we were doing would fit together. All I could say to him was, "Oh, you will." From experience with Dr. Sexson's classes, things will always hit me on the head that connect back to his classes. For example, after taking his lit. crit. class last semester, every piece of literature that for some reason just grabs me, I now know is a touchstone. That beauty that resonates and stays with me as a result of literature allows me to feel "almost a remembrance" (oh, looky there, anamnesis. Imagine that, these classes intersecting! joking).

Now as I walk away from Classical Foundations, I will know that nothing is original, and I will always have heard that story before. I will never look at everyday tragedies with thinking about Euripides and Hecuba. Forever, unrequited love will always bring back visions of Echo. I am circumstantially bound in knowing that the Past Possesses the Present. This is the end, but I know it will never really be the end. I have only begun remembering.

Hip hip, Hooray!

Why, you ask?
Well, I FINALLY finished The Golden Ass. Yes, the last day blogs are due, how convenient, right? But I did finish. The thing that had me thinking was something we really didn't discuss much in class. That is the significance of the rose.

Why did Lucius have to eat a rose to transform back into a human? Roses tend to symbolize vitality, love, passion, friendship, etc. I think that Lucius needed to find a rose because, on that journey to find a rose, he would find virtues like those similar to the rose. He definitely found passion in many forms, including jealousy. He found love in the form of the Cupid and Psyche story. In order to transform back into a human, he needed to embark on a journey and find things to make himself, well, less of an ass. I really wish I had more time to explore this. Maybe i should have had the book finished when Dr. Sexson TOLD me to. What a novel idea, Erica.

The First Whispers of Atheism??

As I was watching Family Guy (weird how that show keeps creeping into this class) last night, I found myself saying; "I have seen this story before". The episode I had been watching is essentially about one character, Brian, telling his family that he is an Atheist. The entire town of Quahog (where they live) rallies against Brian and he winds up losing everything he loves. Of course in the sitcom, everything that Brian loves is the right to buy alcohol. But hey, whatever works for him.

So, what story did this remind me of, do you ask. A person speaks out against a god(s) and says that people should not be worshipping said god(s), then loses everything he/she loves. That story, of course, is the story of Niobe. Niobe spoke out against Leto and told the Theban women to never offer tributes to Leto ever again. Leto says of Niobe,

"The daughter of Tantalus has inherited
All her father's blasphemous folly.
Not only has she emptied my temples,
She drives me mad
With insults, derision,

"And tells the whole world her fourteen children
Are a thousand times superior
To my two. Compared to her I am childless.
O my children, double her mockery--back
Into her own mouth, let her swallow its meaning."

One of Leto's two children that Niobe insulted, Apollo, strikes dead all fourteen of Niobe's children. Now, I am not trying to make any commentary on Christianity or Atheism, but the connection between the two seems noteworthy. It seems to speak to the power (or fear) of God(s) that in Ovid's time people were constructing cautionary tales against challenging the Gods, and the creators of Family Guy (or perhaps only the characters) are doing the same thing today.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/64995/family-guy-not-all-dogs-go-to-heaven

A Modern Day Reed-Bed

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I can't believe I never saw this connection before. Ok, actually I kind of can, because I have not really looked at this site since high school. But there is a website that people send their biggest secrets to (anonymously) and the site posts them for the world to see. The site is called postsecret.com, and it's definitely worth the visit. A little bit emo, a little bit dirty at times, it absolutely parallels the reed-bed in the King Midas story. Things like postsecret.com are are so successful because most people have such a hard time keeping secrets. Sometimes, just saying it (or posting it online) can create a feeling of release and relief. It's also a book, if you want to carry the secrets around with you.

Our Group Presentation

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For our group presentation, we chose to make a video placing the story of King Midas in modern times. The story of Midas, I think, is a rather important one, because it warns against greed and selfishness. People in modern times are more greedy than ever (we are, after all, in the iron age), so I think that the story of King Midas is one of the most relevant in terms of the lesson it teaches. We must appreciate what we have instead of always trying to get more. In American society, that is easier said than done. People are always told that they are not good enough, their car not new enough, their jeans not expensive enough. No wonder this is the Iron Age. All that stuff sucks! By looking at the story of Midas (and our version, featuring Donald Trump), maybe people can see that the greed that drove Midas to make that wish is present in ample amounts today, and we must be careful of it, lest we wind up with ass's ears.

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The Past Possesses Almost Everything

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This weekend I decided to take a quick break from the required reading for my classes and read a book that a classmate lent to me, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Just a quick background on the book: it is about a boy who grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation without very good schools. He decides that he wants a better education, and he transfers out of the reservation and into a nearly all-white high school in a nearby town. because of that, many of his tribe members hated him and felt that he was a traitor.

Well, this book is a very fast but entertaining read. The last thing I expected was a reference to Euripides in the novel. But, there it was on page 173, during a time when the main character was, you guessed it, grieving the death of a loved one. Junior (main character) said:

"And I hoped I would find stories that would help me. So I looked up the word "grief in the dictionary. I wanted to find out everything I could about grief. I wanted to know why my family had been given so much to grieve about. And then I discovered the answer: Okay, so it was Gordy who showed me a book written by the guy who knew the answer. It was Euripides, this Greek writer from the fifth century BC. A way-old dude. In one of his plays, Medea says, 'What greater grief than the loss of one's native land?' I read that and thought, 'Well, of course, man. We Indians have LOST EVERYTHING. We lost our native land, we lost our languages, we lost our songs and dances. We lost each other. We only know how to lose and be lost.' " (172-3)

Even a character like Junior with minimal education (none in classical literature I'm sure) knows that Euripides got it right so long ago, and no one else can define tragedy and the way we grieve better than him. Instead, we just try to re-write and paraphrase it the way he said it, but no one ever really gets it as well as he did. Finding references to classical literature even in a young adult novel like this has shown me once again, that we will never escape the lessons that "way-old dudes" like Euripides have taught us.

A cartoon from the book:
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Why is An Imaginary Life important to OUR lives?

As I read David Malouf's An Imaginary Life, the question I attempted to ask myself and this book is what Dr. Sexson told us to explore: Why is this important to our study of classical literature and our lives in the modern world? The story takes place at the end of the known world around the year 0. Why would we, as classical lit students, care? And how would Malouf have been able to dream up enough of what Ovid was feeling during that time to write the novel?

Well, even before I began reading I knew that even if I didn't know explicity why this book was important it would have an impact on me. Maybe, a few months down the road, the importance of the piece would smack me on the head when I least expect it as I have come to expect from Dr. Sexson's classes.

However, the connections and importance of this novel seemed evident right from the very beginning. We can read Ovid and read about transformations into animals, stars, and sounds and take from them a moral or a message, but Malouf contextualizes the idea of transformation even further. In the story, Ovid undergoes a transformation right alongside the Child. The transformation that Ovid speaks of in the story is very similar to the transformation that we as college students undergo as we grow up. We learn how to survive in a foreign world and without the comforts of home; we learn how to relate to people that we never thought we would; we learn to trust other people and ourselves because, without that trust, we would not survive this world. In the story, Ovid undergoes a personal transformation as the result of his relationship with the Child. Everday, we undergo transformations as a result of our relationships with both ourselves and other people.

The reason that An Imaginary Life is important and relevant to our lives is that Malouf tied all the ideas we have been exploring in class back to an emotional and spiritual transformation, which is a transformation that all humans will never stop undergoing their entire lives.