September 5th, 2011

teehee, haha

On the value of a classical education...

Today's best find from the great empty-the-boxes-in-the-garage project: nestled next to my copy of Tacitus, a much photocopied handout labeled "Fragment of a Greek Tragedy" by A. E. Housman. I was delighted to find it again.

This was given to me by a classical Greek prof in college, when we were reading Euripides's Ion. I think we had been complaining too much about Euripides's rather strained metaphors. Of course, now in the 21st century, it is available online.

Go and read it - it's really quite funny. (If you're not well-acquainted with classical Greek drama, let me assure you that it really is an awful lot like that.) Here's a sample to whet your appetite:

CHORUS: O suitably-attired-in-leather-boots
Head of a traveller, wherefore seeking whom
Whence by what way how purposed art thou come
To this well-nightingaled vicinity?
My object in inquiring is to know.
But if you happen to be deaf and dumb
And do not understand a word I say,
Then wave your hand, to signify as much.

ALCMAEON: I journeyed hither a Boetian road.
CHORUS: Sailing on horseback, or with feet for oars?
ALCMAEON: Plying with speed my partnership of legs.
CHORUS: Beneath a shining or a rainy Zeus?
ALCMAEON: Mud's sister, not himself, adorns my shoes.
CHORUS: To learn your name would not displease me much.
ALCMAEON: Not all that men desire do they obtain.
CHORUS: Might I then hear at what thy presence shoots.
ALCMAEON: A shepherd's questioned mouth informed me that--
CHORUS: What? for I know not yet what you will say.
ALCMAEON: Nor will you ever, if you interrupt.
CHORUS: Proceed, and I will hold my speechless tongue.
ALCMAEON: This house was Eriphyle's, no one else's.
CHORUS: Nor did he shame his throat with shameful lies.
ALCMAEON: May I then enter, passing through the door?
CHORUS: Go chase into the house a lucky foot.
And, O my son, be, on the one hand, good,
And do not, on the other hand, be bad;
For that is very much the safest plan.
ALCMAEON: I go into the house with heels and speed.