Growing up, one of my favorite shows was Star Trek: The Next Generation. At the risk of angering my fellow Trekkers, I am a Captain Picard guy all the way. In TNG and the subsequent movie, the concept of “First Contact” is a vitally important hinge point in human history. The term refers to the first time that one planetary civilization — in this case, humans — comes into contact with another, most famously the Vulcans. First Contact is something that is always meant to be planned, considered, and carefully done at precisely the right time. First Contact is also one of the guiding principles I follow as a middle school ancient history teacher. Instead of alien civilizations from space, I bring groups together across time, right here in my classroom — Ancient civilizations and modern 11-year-olds.
Do you know any kids? Do they like books? Do you want to lure them down the path of Classical Studies before paleontology fever sets in? The good news is that there’s a new resource in development to help you do just that. I’m please to introduce Calliope’s Library: Books for Young Readers.
Figure 1: Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby. Krishni Burns writes, “I appreciate a modern-day Persephone who sets the curtains on fire to get the fire department’s attention, because trapped isn’t the same as helpless.”
I recently taught the troubling Homeric Hymn to Demeter in my Classical Myth course at Bucknell. On the one hand, this hymn is a story of violence. Three quarters into the hymn, readers find Hades “sitting in the bed with his bashful, very unwilling, wife who yearned for her mother” (ἥμενον ἐν λεχέεσσι σὺν αἰδοίῃ παρακοίτι, | πόλλ᾽ ἀεκαζομένῃ μητρὸς πόθῳ, 343–344). As Jermaine Bryant and Ship of Theses have recently discussed on Twitter, this scene is clear evidence that Hades has sexually assaulted Persephone.
Blog: Weaving Humanity Together: How Weaving Reveals Human Unity in Ancient Times
To start with, she lived a respectable life, frugal and hard;
she earned her living by weaving and spinning wool.
primum haec pudice uitam parce ac duriter
agebat, lana ac tela uictum quaeritans.
— Terence the African (P. Terentius Afer), The Girl from Andros, 74–75
This line drew my attention because I am an avid fiber artist. When I am not reading, teaching, and writing about Classics and its connection to Black people, I am in my wool room, lost in the magical world of fiber arts. This line from The Girl from Andros has led me on a new journey of discovering fiber arts in ancient times.
The tale of Orpheus and Eurydice has long been a popular myth in music, drama, literature, and film. Anais Mitchell’s recent musical sensation Hadestown (which was workshopped from 2006 and had an off-Broadway debut during the 2017-18 season) is but one example of the reworking of the legendary love story. Although Mitchell’s musical is broadly defined as a folk opera, it is just the latest instance amongst many pop culture reinterpretations of the Orpheus myth across different musical genres. The tragic tale of a famed musician who traveled to the underworld to retrieve his love from the grips of death has inspired several musicians during the 1990s and the 2000s.
Classical reception is evident in pop-culture media like films and TV, but it is also a recognizable part of music. I began to ponder this recently after hearing BBC Radio 6 ask the question “What song should be on a playlist inspired by ancient history and why?” The following post details some songs that I’ve enjoyed over the years that feature references to ancient history and the ancient world more generally.