The world is in a state of upheaval at the moment, and we’re all looking for things to make us feel less anxious. Maybe Classics can help.
Today’s interview is with Sarah from Hellene Travel
Is there a source from the ancient world that you find yourself coming back to when you want to feel better?
‘Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.’ Aeschylus “Agamemnon” Trans. Edith Hamilton
Not particularly uplifting at first glance, but essentially a quote to inspire exceptional strength in desperate times.
May I choose two? Herewith, in support –
When did you first come across Aeschylus and Thomson?
The ‘Agamemnon’; as an angst ridden 13-year-old uprooted from everything familiar. The Textbook; a gift from my self-educated grandmother, forced to leave school at a similar age.
Can you tell me a bit about these sources and their context?
‘Agamemnon’ is the first play in Aeschylus’ Trilogy ‘Oresteia’. A gory tale of the fall of the House of Atreus; infanticide, cannibalism, bloody revenge, insanity, war, tyranny and dreadful gods. All related in beautiful poetic imagery.
Thomson sets the works of Aeschylus as a reflection of the agonising and brutal emergence of civilisation from a barbaric and primitive tribal society.
What is it about these sources that appeals to you most?
As a teenager of course I loved the stories, they appealed to my nascent Goth! I also adored the poetry, the imagery. Thomson taught me the importance of historical context and never to accept anything in isolation and without attempting verification.
Most importantly the notion of “Wisdom through Suffering” gave hope to my teenage self and helped explain the injustice I saw in the world at large. It still resonates today.
Recently, a past pupil (now in her 40’s) made contact to say she still reads her classroom annotated texts – and sent me proof! I’m thrilled Aeschylus continues to give her hope.
And finally… what do you do, outside of Classics, to cheer yourself up?
Eat the delicious food cooked by my husband!
However, there is no ‘outside of Classics’ – Classics is all pervading! We travel a lot both here and abroad, always seeking out archaeological sites, museums and food markets. For the moment our travelling is electronic, and as for visiting far flung friends – Hurrah for FaceTime!
Sarah is Joint Founder & Consultant of the recently liquidated company “Hellene Travel” , BA Classics/History Jt. Hons., Rtd HoD and Chief Examiner OCR, as well as Ambassador for MOLA (+ working for ‘Shelter’, Teaching Children with Special Needs, Fire Service Training Clerk, GKN production line machine operator, factory floor sweeper-upper of iron filings, building a BSA Fleet Star motorcycle, archaeology & hand-picking swedes).
You can find her on Twitter @Sarah404BC.
5 thoughts on “Comfort Classics: Sarah Thomason”
Very much enjoying these autobiographical vignettes!
Yes, the phrase ‘terrible beauty’ well applies to Aeschylus’ gnarly lines with their adjectives piled one after another, those portmanteau words and his mixture of suspense and spectacle; in the Agamemnon, the watchman’s speech well sets up a feeling of foreboding.
Fabulous thank you and, like Martglas., am really enjoying the different interests, motivations and life stories.
I was lucky enough to see the Oresteia at the Globe a couple of years ago. Fantastic experience, fantastic trilogy, fantastic production and so glad we hired cushions to sit on. Bit strange thought the juxtaposition of tragedy at the Globe with the proximity to the city so helicopters buzzing past.
Excellent! And absolutely agree, there is no life outside of Classics!
It’s quite disturbing sometimes, how I can manage to find a classical connection in almost everything…!