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
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