Here is a fun question for Friday – I’m really interested in getting some reader feedback on this point. Thomas Jefferson once admitted that he found it difficult to read through an entire Platonic dialogue. I myself have never been able to read through all of Statius’ Thebaid (and find Silver Latin Epic in general rather rough going on the whole).
What author or work do you find it impossible to read through? I don’t mean to ask which authors (such as Aeschylus or Thucydides) you find stylistically difficult or challenging, but rather, which authors are so obscure, perplexing, or boring that you cannot find the patience to endure them?
7 thoughts on “Friday Survey: Most Despised Classical Authors”
Well, we both know Lykophron is unreadable.
Callimachus is not worth the difficulty.
And Bacchylides is just a bad poet.
For Latin: Lucan is barely worth the struggle.
And Ennius is better off in fragments. Only fewer of them.
I find the coy, wink-wink insults in Cicero’s speeches incredibly annoying. But de gustibus, you know? I happen to enjoy Callimachus, Lucan, and especially Ennius, whose taste for alliteration evokes the style of an earlier day, less influenced by Greek poetics. I have nothing to say in defense of Lycophron. Or Nonnus.
I’ve always thought Cicero’s letters were boring and hard to get through. And I have to agree with your comment about Silver Epics and would throw in Silius Italicus’ Punica.
I would like to be able to contribute and come up with an author or works but unfortunately I quite like the trivial and boring and many of the works cited above I have not read. So my contribution is the processions described in Athenaeus – those of Antilochus and Philadelphus. (?). They seem to go on forever and even the spectators must have got a bit bored in the end at the sight of so much pomp.
This really drew in some interesting responses, here and on Twitter. Interesting, precisely because most of the authors/works mentioned were not entirely surprising!
If any author ever fitted the description “deliberately difficult”, it is he.
Maybe pose this question again with a new/updated post?