Atopia: “Strangeness,” from a-topos, “out of place”
*ἄτοπα· πονηρά, αἰσχρά: “wretched, shameful”
*ἀτοπία· αἰσχρότης. πονηρία: “shamefulness, wretchedness”
“Atopon: atopon is used in place of something that is amazing or illogical”
῎Ατοπον· τὸ ἄτοπον ἀντὶ τοῦ θαυμαστοῦ ἢ ἀλόγου τάττεται
Earlier today, I posted a list of the most-read posts on this site. Here’s a list of my favorite posts to write (of the nearly thousand posts we made this year), prompted by a twitter friend.
This might not have made the top ten, but it was on Neville Morley’s annual retrospective. And, it was fun to work on: it was absurd. Friends helped out with it. A good day.
This year we did several thematic sequences (one for AP Latin, another for Halloween, a series for Thanksgiving etc.) None of these were really planned. Palaiophron and I just kind of did them.
I had a taxi driver who claimed their was a worldwide conspiracy to conceal the existence of mermaids. I wrote a post about it. I used to love X-Files. It was foggy and in the late-winter. This had a very 1990’s occult show feel to it.
Future generations will struggle to understand what this post was about or why it had to be written. I will probably struggle about it in five years time. But it had to be done.
When I still lived in San Antonio, Palaiophron and I would regularly get together to read, translate, laugh. etc. Sometimes we’d drink. It was really one of the best things about living there. Dio Chrysostom would have understood. This summer, he came to visit Boston and we went to the MFA. It was fun.
This one was the eleventh most read post. Like the Sharknado post, I used crowdsourcing a bit here. I think this will probably continue to be a perennial favorite.
This post was fun because I learned something about Science. Hooray!
Sometimes posts emerge out of random thoughts or research dead-ends. Before I started this blog, I might have spent weeks researching and then giving up on an idea. Now, I write about it, think a bit, post and then let it simmer. Most of the material fizzles.
Some posts come out of classes, preparing for teaching, or conversations from students. This post was a gift from a student. I learned something. I have an anecdote that will never get old.
This post on treason was important to write and consider over the past year for no particular reason that I can think of.
The twitter version of this rant was probably more impactful, but the experience helped to articulate for us what we are doing and why. It was worth doing.
I have a general idea when a post is going to be popular (hint: feces, phalluses and farting). Sometimes, I think something is hilarious, but it just doesn’t hit. For instance, this post on aporia and lusis in the Homeric Scholia using Vanilla Ice as a comparandum. Why didn’t this make me famous? Also, not the only time R. M. Van Winkle appeared on the blog this year.
Some of Palaiophron’s posts I think should be read regularly
Palaiophron [Erik] has, in my humble opinion, emerged as an important voice not just in selecting and commenting on ancient literature but in discussing its use and import in the modern world. If someone were foolish enough to write a history of this blog, they would note that his posts from when they first started in 2013 helped to transform this site incredibly. I am lucky to have Erik as a partner and collaborator in this endless project; I am luckier to have him as a friend
This is a deep, sensitive, and important reflection on the aesthetics of violence and atrocity in art. I am still surprised that this is not one of the number 1 posts on the site.
As I battled nazis on twitter, Palaiophron developed a pointed, disarming style of essay to contend with the larger cultural issues regarding the intersection of the study of the ancient world, modern politics, and racist appropriation. We took a political turn over the past year. Erik’s clarity and bravery provided us with the confidence to do so.
One of the things Palaiophron does so well is to excerpt from scholarship on scholars. He provides amusing, illuminating, sometimes depressing, and sometimes inspiring anecdotes. Since I first met Erik, one of his hobbies has been learning about the lives and thoughts of scholars in the classical tradition. He has really tapped into general interest with this.
Another fine essay on learning and teaching an ancient language.
Erik finds some pretty amazing poems. His ability to balance smut with the sublime is not only one of his most attractive traits, it is also part of what makes this site fun.