Saturday, February 13, 2016

California Week #5: Even noble Homer dozed.



     Family Weekend at Pomona College. Loooong day. A very interesting hour conversation—I was in the audience, not conversing—with Michael J. Fox, whose daughter Skyler goes to school here. He was honest, funny, and had a positive message about coping with difficulties. The audience stood and applauded at the end.
     But I'm too beat to relay it any better than that. Or to do a post at all, really. 
     Except for this, of course, which I suppose counts as a post, of sorts, albeit not a very long or a very good one.  
    In my defense, as Horace writes, in his Ars Poetica: "Quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus"— "Every once in a while even the good Homer nods off."  A line often used to forgive scribblers their lapses, though it has a wonderful anachronism built in. Back then, poets were singers, literally, sitting with a lyre in the corner of some banquet room, waiting for the nod to begin their tales of brave Ulysses and beautiful Helen. As the evening wore on and the wine flowed, even the best of them, Homer, might be caught snoring against a pillar (especially Homer. There's a quote from antiquity, along the lines of, "You can tell, from the Iliad, what a lover of wine Homer was," though I can't recall its author).
    Twill do for today. If you ever get to Santa Barbara, and can manage it, I'd recommend the Santa Barbara Biltmore, pictured above.  It's nice.

6 comments:

  1. Well, Neil, even when you nod, you can create a vivid picture in writing: I can just see Homer as a Greek Brendan Beehan nipping at his flask in the wings for his cue, slipping in and out of consciousness, as the sybarites partied on.

    john

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  2. Presumably the inimitable Cole was referring to the northern part of the state when he had his trampy lady sing "Hate California, its cold and it's damp." Alternately, Santa Barbara is nice, but like most of the south can be beastly hot in the summer. And becoming afflicted, like its greater neighbor to the south, with unregulated urban sprawl, hellish traffic, etc.

    Not that it matters, but Ulysses was usually pictured as "wily" or "cunning" (or sneaky and duplicitous.) The brave, if not too bright, guys were Hector and Achilles. What makes the Iliad an enduring work is not the poetry bet the display of human virtues and frailties, shared in some instances by the gods when they decide to choose up sides.

    Tom Evans

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    Replies
    1. I'm not a Greek scholar, but my impression is that the gods are the most human characters in Homer's works -- the heroes are a little too good (or bad) to be true.

      john

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    2. I like a Homeric analogy by Joseph Epstein, evidently a bulls fan, about what one player meant to the home team: "Michael Jordan is the modern incarnation of Achilles without the sulking and without the heel."

      Tom Evans

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  3. My mother grew up in Santa Barbara and scornfully remarked on how it had changed, particularly excoriating what she called the "Taco Bell" architecture that has been marketed as "Spanish."

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