Weekend Reading: Morris and Horace

Only a short post this week, as promised, because I’ve spent a fair chunk of the last week eating chocolate and playing with Playmobil, and the cats are demanding that I return to my spot on the sofa.

But I thought I’d take a few moments to introduce you to one of my favourite birthday presents: Morris Does Horace.

When asked by my long-suffering family what I wanted for my birthday, as you can imagine I had quite a long list. It’s not that I’m acquisitive, you understand – it’s just… actually yes, I am shockingly acquisitive. As an old teacher of mine used to say, pobody’s nerfect.

One of the things at the top of my list (which my parents very kindly bought for me despite the logistical challenges of lockdown and the shop being shut) was a little set of books produced by the Bodleian Library: a facsimile of William Morris’ illuminated edition of Horace’s Odes. It’s adorable and fabulous and ridiculously over-the-top.





This has never really been published as a proper book, because Morris didn’t finish it; he got distracted and moved on to something else. Book illumination was more a hobby for him than a commercial project; he made these books by hand for his friends and family, and apparently he found it relaxing. So there are lots of pages that are almost but not quite done; and quite a few which he only just started.

I may have mentioned once or twice how much I love Horace… but I may not have mentioned how much I love Morris too. I could go on at length about that, but as I said, the cats need me… so here’s just one example. Let me take you on a tour of my bathroom.

(Didn’t expect that, did you?)

When I first moved into my fixer-upper of a house, the bathroom needed a complete remodel – new floor, ceiling, walls, the full works. And I got to design it from scratch. The most impressive room I could think of to take as a model was the Morris Tea Room at the V&A, a room which I’d seen for the first time not long before.

(It has been said that I have delusions of grandeur. I think this is wrong – if and when I finally inherit a castle, my taste will be entirely appropriate.)



The Morris Tea Room


Panels by Morris and Burne-Jones



So I got out my paintbox.

Granted, the finished product is not up to William Morris’ usual standard. I was working within certain constraints which Morris didn’t have (like a shoe-string budget and the need to incorporate plumbing), and Burne-Jones wasn’t available to do my stained glass. Also I included glitter. But I think it’s fair to claim that my bathroom is Morris-esque (or should that be Morrisish? Morrissey doesn’t work, I’m afraid…).






You see now why a William Morris edition of Horace holds such an attraction for me – the combination of my favourite poet and my favourite designer is irresistible. Also there are those tantalisingly unfinished pages… I’m absolutely itching to finish them myself! But I’ve promised my parents that I won’t colour in my birthday present – at least not yet…





This week from around the Classical Internet


(Just a few links this week. For daily links, do check out the Rogue Classicist’s Thelxinoe posts.)




Buried monkeys – The Smithsonian Magazine

British Museum’s purchased ‘loot’ – The Telegraph

5,000-year-old paint palette – Daily Sabah

The Sherlock Holmes of archaeology – The Telegraph

Scholar’s notes on the Rosetta Stone – The Guardian



This week’s Comfort Classics

Comfort Classics: Danny Bate

Comfort Classics: Emily Hauser

Comfort Classics: George Cornelius



Pandora inbox




Comment and opinion

Thera: the island with many names – Kosmos Society

The mystery of Cleopatra’s burial – Grunge

The Romans and exams – The Spectator

Reading Hippolytus online – Sententiae Antiquae

An Aeneid playlist – Mixed up in Classics

Rocket man – Sphinx







Podcasts, video and other media

Flaminius and Hannibal – The Layman’s Historian 

Sparta and the Macedonian phalanx – Ancient Warfare

Mycenaean chariots – Ancient World Magazine

Petronius and werewolves – Creepy Classics

Partial Spartacus – Roman Emperors: Totalus Rankium

The philosophers of ancient Greece – Dan Snow’s History Hit




One thought on “Weekend Reading: Morris and Horace

  1. Was your old teacher called Spooner?!…Your bathroom now joins the toilets in the Philharmonic Pub in Liverpool as the most decorous private room I know..erm moving on..what a wonderful edition of Horace that is…if only Morris had put his mind to Pindar…ahh it was those Icelandic Sagas that got him wasn’t it?


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