Category Archives: History

Spirituality and the “Iliad”

Print PDF  In contrast to the Odyssey, for me there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of spiritual significance in the Iliad, unless you count degrees of conflict and division as significant.  As I pointed out in my … Continue reading

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Sin: Stupidity or Limitation? Discuss.

For Wilde, our nostos is to return to the world of beauty, the love of which he reminds us is what Plato called the true aim of education. “Good” art is what brings us closer to that timeless world, expands our view, stirs our better feelings, and brings us to a state (from stasis) of “doing nothing.” It will bring us to a condition of stillness. Continue reading

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The Odyssey: A Dramatic Retelling of Homer’s Epic, by Simon Armitage

Print PDF  Another bargain-table find, this book was developed as a radio script and read on the BBC (where else??) in the summer of 2004.  (Note: the link takes you to the BBC page, but the play doesn’t seem to … Continue reading

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Fear Not

Print PDF  Some time ago it occurred to me that if the “terrorists” who perpetrated the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11/01 wanted to maintain the fear, it wouldn’t be that hard.  They could easily walk onto a PATH train–a … Continue reading

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Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese, by Patrick Leigh Fermor.

Print PDF  Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese, by Patrick Leigh Fermor. New York Review Books 1958 When my wife handed me this book from a bargain table at a nearby bookstore, I admit I hadn’t heard of Fermor (1915-2011), … Continue reading

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Simone Weil’s Apologetic Use of Literature, by Marie Cabaud Meaney (Oxford University Press, 2007)

Print PDF  It seems that anyone who pursues an interest in Greek literature and/or spiritual writing sooner or later encounters the work of Simone Weil.  She left little in the way of completed works, but filled many notebooks and letters, … Continue reading

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How to Kill a Dragon, Pt. II

Print PDF  In the last post I looked at how some of the “themes and ‘motifemes’” identified by Calvert Watkins as they related to scenes in Homer’s Odyssey.  Now I’d like to look at them in more depth as they … Continue reading

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Books About the Ideal

Print PDF  The Journey Back to Where You Are: Homer’s Odyssey as Spiritual Quest This book views Homer’s Odyssey an allegory for the soul’s quest for reunification, a journey back from the strife and division of the Trojan War to the … Continue reading

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How to Kill a Dragon

Print PDF  I was recently looking for a little light reading, so I got a copy of Calvert Watkins‘s page turner (kidding!), subtitled Aspects of Indo-European Poetics.  If you don’t know it, it is a remarkable achievement displaying a level … Continue reading

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More or less

Print PDF  I am, I know, a lesser light, but a light nonetheless.

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Sweet Chariot

Print PDF  A survey of the metaphor of the chariot to describe the human soul.  Click here.

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A Course in Consciousness

Print PDF  I forget now where I first connected with it, but I’ve spending time recently with this course which was taught by Prof. Stanley Sobottka (1930-2014) at the University of Virginia.  Although I have tried on a number of … Continue reading

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New Review of “The Ideal in the West”

Print PDF  This just in, from Kirkus Reviews.  Full disclosure: I did pay for the review, but they are not obligated to give a good one.  (I would just note that at one point the reviewer speaks of “a wordy … Continue reading

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The Religion With No Name

Print PDF  Recently I was commended to the site grahamhancock.com, which seems to specialize in alternate interpretations of history and mythology, and to one article in particular by Brian Muraresku.  It speaks for itself, and I hope you find it … Continue reading

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We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Print PDF  This quote, usually attributed to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, is a helpful reminder of our real nature.  It seems that the normal assumption of religious and “self-help” systems alike is that we are small, alienated beings looking for … Continue reading

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The Throwaway Comment 2

Print PDF  Some time ago I did a post on throwaway lines–short quotes in the middle of a work that carried a significance that far outweighed their number of words.  There are of course many more that could be added, … Continue reading

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Warrior or Governor?

Print PDF  Fighting a war and governing a state require two different skill sets.  Most people who had the opportunity to do both realized that they were good at one and not the other, and chose to opt out of … Continue reading

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Fracking Homer

Print PDF  In Book 8 of Homer’s Odyssey, the hero Odysseus, on his way home from the Trojan War, has washed up on the shore of Scheria, a magical island, home to a race of mariners whose self-guided ships sail … Continue reading

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The Throwaway Comment

Print PDF  One of the marks of being in the presence of genius is coming upon what looks to be a throwaway comment, but which carries a greater significance than I could come up with on my best day.  As … Continue reading

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The Difference

Print PDF  It’s the difference between talking and speaking, thoughts and ideas, hearing and listening.

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Spring and Light

Print PDF  Ah Spring!  Time to bring out the gardening tools, time to bring out the new wardrobe, time to bring out the housecleaning metaphors for getting our mental house in order.  Time to take a good look at all … Continue reading

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The Way of the Odyssey

More evidence that the Odyssey is a spiritual allegory comes from the fact that the main characters can be seen as exemplars of traditional spiritual paths. Continue reading

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Writing

It seems as if everyone is articulate when they speak from the heart. It’s only when you’re being forced or insincere that you need writing lessons.
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Homer: Journalist or Poet?

I’ve had a couple of encounters in the last week with the “literalist” branch of Odyssey readers, including seeing a $45 book (whose title I forget) that purports to be a proof of the journey’s itinerary using modern geological methods. Whew! The fact that there can be these divisions after all this time renews my respect for Homer. I also just listened to the series of lectures by Elizabeth Vandiver listed in the previous post, who has the view that there probably is a kernel of historical fact behind the Trojan War and Odysseus’s subsequent return, but which was then extensively elaborated upon by Homer, whoever he or she was. Continue reading

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Odyssey Resources

I’m currently doing research on Homer’s Odyssey in preparation for doing another essay (see The Ideal of the Odyssey) and have come up with some online resources that might interest you as well. Continue reading

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