The Annual Top 10 Post

These are the posts published for the first time in 2020 that received the most views.Certain posts about Aristotle keep getting hits, but we’ll leave that nonsense out of the mix.

  1. [redacted]– S. Echeverria-Fenn telling the story of her experience with Classics
  2. Skip Sleep & Blast Through HomerErik’s surprise hit with an excerpt from E.V. Blomfeld, Biographical Memoir of Joseph Justus Scaliger:
  3. A Vote Against Pericles is a Vote Against Plague — Flint Dibble’s fabulous essay paring down the truth from the propaganda about Pericles and the plague
  4. On Not Reading Homer — a response to an ongoing debate about requiring Homer for Classics majors in the UK
  5. Founding Frauds of the Role-Playing Republic — Erik’s barnstorming unmasking of the shallowness of early American classicism
  6. On Reading Homer –a response to the response to my response encouraging people not to read Homer, outlining a more holistic approach to reading Epic
  7. Blogging My Way to a Booka record of how I used blogging over a five year period to help write a book
  8. Epic and Therapy: Helplessness, Loss, and Collective Trauma imagine the folly of starting to think about collective trauma only a month into the US COVID19 shutdown
  9.  Reading Poems at the End of the World — further navel gazing at the beginning of the end of the beginning of the end of the world

Some Other Things Were Published

Pliny the Younger, Letters 1.2

“Clearly, something must be published – ah, it would be best if I could just publish what I have already finished! (You may hear in this the wish of laziness.)”

Est enim plane aliquid edendum — atque utinam hoc potissimum quod paratum est! Audis desidiae votum


Here’s a list of some things I published this year. Email if you want digital copies of anything. Here’s 2018’s list and 2019’s


The Many-Minded Man: The Odyssey, Psychology and the Therapy of Epic, Cornell University Press.

Hardcopy: E. T. E. Barker and Joel P. Christensen. Homer’s Thebes: Epic Rivalries and the Appropriation of Mythical Pasts Center for Hellenic Studies


“Reading Minds and Leading Men: Agamemnon’s Test and Emotional Intelligence” SAGE Business Cases

Shorter Entries

“Gods and Goddesses in Epic” (1000 words); “The Epic Cycle,” (750 words); “Formula,” (1000 words); “Ekphrasis,” (500 words); and “Batrakhomyomakhia” (500 words); and “PanHellenism” (1000 words) in Cambridge Homer. Corinne Pache (ed.).

If you buy one compendium to Homer, it should be this one. Not that I am biased….

Book Review

S. Pulleyn, Odyssey 1: Introduction, Translation, Commentary (Oxford, 2019), JHS  [warning, this is a little hard hitting]

Public Writing

Ancient Greek desire to resolve civil strife resonates today – but Athenian justice would be a ‘bitter pill’ in modern America.” The Conversation, December 15, 2020

with Sarah Pessin, “A Civic Call.” Inside Higher Ed, October 5, 2020

What the Greek Classics Tell Us about Grief and the Importance of Mourning the Dead,” The Conversation, September 21, 2020.

with E.T.E. Barker, “Greater the Profit…When Two Go Together”: Homeric Adventures in Collaboration and Open Access”, SCS Blog, March 12, 2020

Plagues Follow Bad Leadership in Ancient Greek Tales,” The Conversation, March 12, 2020

The Ancient Greeks Had Alternative Facts Too—They Were Just More Chill About It.The Conversation, Feb. 24 ,2020

Our Top Ten Posts from the Last Year

Our Top ten Posts by Page Views from the Last Year

1. How to Say “Happy Birthday” in Ancient Greek

A perennial favorite thanks to google searches. Also, some of the site’s most fictive and absurd content.

2, The Horrors of Classical Studies

Palaiophron’s post on the perils of teaching Latin when our textbooks and pedagogical traditions present issues like rape and slavery without adequate framing or criticism. This was the inspiration for his fantastic Eidolon essay.

3, Learning to Think in Greek

A long quotation from C. S. Lewis where he ruminates on semiotics issues, presenting the great line “The very formula, ‘Naus means a ship,’ is wrong. Naus and ship both mean a thing, they do not mean one another. ”

4. An Impressive List of Female Authors from Antiquity

This is a post from a different site. It is also from the previous year, but its work is not yet done.

5. Masturbating in Ancient Greek

I don’t know if this post needs an explanation, except for this: it is a lexicographical piece, not an instruction manual. 

6. How to Give the Finger in Ancient Greek and “Why”

The ancient Greeks used the middle finger as an obscene gesture. This post explains why and what it means. It also encourages giving tyrants “the bird”

7. Ancient Greek Words for Excrement

Another lexicographical flight of fancy.

8. The Vanity of Knowing Greek

A long quotation from Virginia Woolf on the impossible arrogance of studying and ever truly knowing Ancient Greek.

9. Political Correctness: A Response

A brilliant essay emerging from one of our periodic entries into the political fray on twitter.

10. Humanizing A Monster

A kind and sympathetic reading of Polyphemos’ depiction in the Aeneid (and elsewhere)

Image result for Ancient Roman New year


What Can We learn from This?

None of these posts consist of what we have seen as the bread-and-butter of this site (passages from Latin and Greek we like, translated with original text often juxtaposed with other texts). That’s ok. We post a lot and the posts that aren’t just about specific passages or Latin/Greek have broader appeal.

Salacious content attracts readers. (Although the post on Ancient Viagra was less well-read than the masturbation post. Hmmmmm.) People like to read about profanity, masturbation, and feces. Given the nature of the internet, this is not surprising.

More surprising for its consistency over the past few years is how much people enjoy the “meta-sententiae”, the modern scholarly comments on the nature of scholarship and the classics (items 3 and 8). When such comments are quoted from well-known intellectuals (C. S. Lewis and Virginia Woolf, respectively), they are especially welcome. I am happy that Palaiophron’s well-thought and eloquent reflection on the difficulties of teaching and talking about classical content is so popular. It is also probably a sign of our times that the list of female authors from antiquity is popular too. We should expand it and add to it. Palaiophron’s thoughts on political correctness also provide one of the rhetorically most potent essays this site has ever witnessed. Similarly, his reading of Vergil’s depiction of Polyphemos is one of the sweetest and most sensitive literary responses on the site.