Weekend Reading: Bring Me Sunshine

I don’t know how things are where you live right now – but round here life feels pretty bleak. We’re in lockdown because of a ridiculous local rise in cases – but we still have to send our children to school every day, which is an anxious business. Many of the shops are closed, and in other shops the shelves are half empty. The building society is shut due to infection. The house next door to me has its front window boarded up (it was broken in a fight a few weeks ago, and nobody’s available to fix it). The sunshine’s gone, and in its place we have all-day gloom. There’s practically tumbleweed blowing through the streets.

Then there are the people. It seems that almost everyone I talk to at the moment has a tale of difficulties: job losses, family members needing care, uncertainty about the future. We’re all either waiting for things to go horribly wrong or dealing with the things that already have gone horribly wrong.

So I’m doing what I always do when times are hard: turning to Classics. Specifically, I’ve been dusting off the Comfort Classics series of interviews, which I started when the first lockdown began, back in March, but put on hold last month when things were looking up slightly. From Monday you can expect to see daily (or almost daily, depending on my workload) new interviews with Classics enthusiasts, with happy thoughts and interesting sources galore. And if you think you might like to join in yourself, do contact me!

The world of Classics and of classicists remains an enduring source of amusement to me, despite the circumstances. For instance… this week’s Twitter highlight has undoubtedly been the interaction between Classics Twitter and the legend that is MC Hammer, who started off a conversation about Herodotus and ended up chatting about ancient philosophy with a bunch of academics. I love it when things happen in real life which sound like something you could have made up in a particularly unlikely dream.

Want more classical weirdness? Of course you do. So I present to you images from a new episode of The Simpsons, set in Ancient Rome and due out this week.

I don’t know when it will be available to watch in the UK – but the pictures made me laugh.

I have a book recommendation for you, too. I don’t normally advise that people buy books (I know all too well how slippery that slope is…!), but I make an exception for excellent and cheap books. The new Very Short Introduction to Ovid, by the wonderful Llewelyn Morgan, has just come out, and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in poetry, myth, Augustan literature or… well to anyone, really. It’s great!

I’ve been pretty busy this week, marking MA dissertations. In some ways it’s a nightmare, because the marking for that module overlaps with the start of all the other modules, leaving little time for luxuries like sleeping and eating. But it’s also brilliant, because I get to read such a crazy range of amazing projects!

And in the very few gaps (mostly around midnight!) I’ve been drawing. It occurred to me that I could do with some new coasters, so I thought I might design my own. Here are the first few attempts: what do you think?

Anyway, I hope your week ahead is not too awful. But if it is, do check in here from time to time: I’ll be doing my very best to bring some sunshine into this little corner of the internet!

This week from around the Classical Internet


Dionysus mask found in Turkey – Smithsonian Magazine

Teaching Classics through technology – CBS News

‘Hades’ game review – The Guardian

Comment and opinion

Pandemic Pedagogy for classicists – CUCD

Livy and the early kings – Lytham St Annes CA

The history of Roman glass – Hyperallergic

Assassins and heroes – The Spectator

Ajax the Lesser – Coin Week

What was it like to be a Vestal Virgin? – Grunge

Reading ‘Phoenician Women’ – Sententiae Antiquae

Ars – Lugubelinus

Revenge on a Roman cat-killer – The Historian’s Hut

Sculpture puzzles – A Don’s Life

AI emperor portraits – Live Science

Emily Wilson on the Oresteia – London Review of Books

These fabulous images come from http://www.veritablehokum.com/, by Korwin Briggs (with thanks to Stephen Jenkin for spotting them!)

Podcasts, video and other media

The story of Creusa – Creepy Classics

Pietas and Furor in the Aeneid – Runshaw Classics

Plato’s Symposium – Christian Lehmann

Agrippa: Rome’s Forgotten Hero – The Ancients

Colour your own medieval manuscript – Durham Priory


APGRD Autumn Events – TORCH Oxford

ICS Events – Institute of Classical Studies

Undergraduate Essay Competition – Hellenic Society

If you check out the website, http://www.veritablehokum.com/, there’s a Roman Gods picture too!

5 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: Bring Me Sunshine

  1. At least the pubs are still open, and for those who don’t mind solitary drinking (I’m just happy plugging away at the Times cryptic while glugging away) it’s still a very pleasant experience! Your coasters are wonderful, lovely expressions of the words…but no nunc bibendum est!? 🙂


      1. Oh so it is but then being one of nature’s plodders I never eschew the obvious! I really must pay another visit to Arbeia though, not to mention Segedunum.


      2. Annoyingly – as of last week – Arbeia is now closed till the Spring! It’s always frustrating in the Winter: I have to walk past it every day, but can’t go in!


  2. Thank you Cora Beth for this wealth of insights and information. I have particularly enjoyed discovering “The Ancients” podcast; the episode you have just shared -on Agrippa- is brilliant. During the summer I read a number of ‘must-read’ secondary sources, especially Ronald Syme’s The Roman Revolution. It left me wanting to learn more about Marcus Agrippa and his key role in the building of the new ‘Agustan’ power structure. Lindsay Powell’s book on its way to Switzerland! Looking forward to your tutorship in A276. Best wishes, Ricardo Cortes-Monroy

    Liked by 1 person

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