It Was Winter, It Was Snowing

Homer, Il. 3.222-3

“Yet, then a great voice came from his chest And [Odysseus’] words were like snowy storms”

ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ ὄπα τε μεγάλην ἐκ στήθεος εἵη καὶ ἔπεα νιφάδεσσιν ἐοικότα χειμερίῃσιν,

Quintilian, 12.10.64-65

“Homer said that speech pours forth from Nestor’s lips sweeter than honey—no greater pleasure can be formed than this. But when he is about to demonstrate the greatest ability and power in Ulysses, he grants him a voice, the strength of speech “like a winter blizzard” in its force and abundance of words.

Because of this, no mortal will compete with him and men gaze at him as a god. This is the force and speed Eupolis admioes in Pericles, this force Aristophanes compares to thunderbotls. This is truly the power of speaking.”

et ex ore Nestoris dixit dulciorem melle profluere sermonem, qua certe delectatione nihil fingi maius potest: sed summam expressurus in Ulixe facundiam et magnitudinem illi vocis et vim orationis nivibus 〈hibernis〉 copia [verborum] atque impetu parem tribuit. Cum hoc igitur nemo mortalium contendet, hunc ut deum homines intuebuntur. Hanc vim et celeritatem in Pericle miratur Eupolis, hanc fulminibus Aristophanes comparat, haec est vere dicendi facultas.

Thucydides 4.103

“It was winter and it was snowing”

χειμὼν δὲ ἦν καὶ ὑπένειφεν…

Hermippus 37 (Athenaeus 650e)

“Have you ever seen a pomegranate seed in drifts of snow?”

ἤδη τεθέασαι κόκκον ἐν χιόνι ῥόας;

Pindar, Pythian 1. 20

“Snowy Aetna, perennial nurse of bitter snow”

νιφόεσσ᾿ Αἴτνα, πάνετες χιόνος ὀξείας τιθήνα

Plutarch, Moralia 340e

“Nations covered in depths of snow”

καὶ βάθεσι χιόνων κατακεχωσμένα ἔθνη

Herodotus, Histories 4.31

“Above this land, snow always falls…

τὰ κατύπερθε ταύτης τῆς χώρης αἰεὶ νίφεται

Diodorus Siculus, 14.28

“Because of the mass of snow that was constantly falling, all their weapons were covered and their bodies froze in the chill in the air. Thanks to the extremity of their troubles, they were sleepless through the whole night”

διὰ γὰρ τὸ πλῆθος τῆς κατὰ τὸ συνεχὲς ἐκχεομένης χιόνος τά τε ὅπλα πάντα συνεκαλύφθη καὶ τὰ σώματα διὰ τὸν ἀπὸ τῆς αἰθρίας πάγον περιεψύχετο. διὰ δὲ τὴν ὑπερβολὴν τῶν κακῶν ὅλην τὴν νύκτα διηγρύπνουν·

Ammianus Marcellinus, History V. V. Gratianus 27.9

“He will tolerate sun and snow, frost and thirst, and long watches.”

solem nivesque et pruinas et sitim perferet et vigilias

Basil, Letter 48

“We have been snowed in by such a volume of snow that we have been buried in our own homes and taking shelter in our holes for two months already”

καὶ γὰρ τοσούτῳ πλήθει χιόνων κατενίφημεν, ὡς αὐτοῖς οἴκοις καταχωσθέντας δύο μῆνας ἤδη ταῖς καταδύσεσιν ἐμφωλεύειν.

Livy, 10.46

“The snow now covered everything and it was no longer possible to stay outside…”

Nives iam omnia oppleverant nec durari extra tecta poterat

Plautus, Stichus 648

“The day is melting like snow…”

quasi nix tabescit dies.

Seneca, De Beneficiis 4

“I will go to dinner just as I promised, even if it is cold. But I certainly will not if it begins to snow.”

Ad cenam, quia promisi, ibo, etiam si frigus erit; non quidem, si nives cadent.

Snowy Mountain

Snow istotle

Talking Too Much and the Work of Existing

Apollonius of Tyana, Letters [excerpts]

89 “Most people argue in defense of their own weaknesses but are prosecutors of others’ ”

Ἀπολλώνιος Σατύρῳ. Οἱ πολλοὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων τῶν μὲν ἰδίων ἁμαρτημάτων συνήγοροι γίνονται, τῶν δὲ ἀλλοτρίων κατήγοροι.


90 “To not exist is nothing, but existing is work.”

Ἀπολλώνιος Δίωνι. Τὸ μὴ γενέσθαι οὐδέν, τὸ δὲ γενέσθαι πόνος.


93 “Talking too much leads to many mistakes; being silent is safe.”

Ἀπολλώνιος τοῖς γνωρίμοις. Πολυλογία πολλὰ σφάλματα ἔχει, τὸ δὲ σιγᾶν ἀσφαλές.


99 “We must not mourn the kinds of friends we have lost, but we should remember how great were the lives we lived with them”

Οὐ θρηνητέον οἵων φίλων ἐστερήθημεν, ἀλλὰ μνημονευτέον, ὅτι μετὰ τῶν φίλων τὴν καλλίστην βιοτὴν ἐβιοτεύσαμεν.

Achilles tending Patroclus wounded by an arrow, identified by inscriptions on the upper part of the vase. Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix, ca. 500 BC. From Vulci.

Slander and Salt

Demetrius, On Style 301

“Because he wanted to slander his enemies, [Hipponax] broke his meter and made it stumble instead of straight: he made the rhythm irregular. This is appropriate for surprise and attack. For rhythmic and smooth composition is more appropriate for praise than for blame. This is all I have to say about hiatus.”

 (301) καὶ ὥσπερ τὸ διαλελυμένον σχῆμα δεινότητα ποιεῖ, ὡς προλέλεκται, οὕτω ποιήσει ἡ διαλελυμένη ὅλως σύνθεσις. σημεῖον δὲ καὶ τὸ Ἱππώνακτος· λοιδορῆσαι γὰρ βουλόμενος τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ἔθραυσεν τὸ μέτρον, καὶ ἐποίησεν χωλὸν ἀντὶ εὐθέος καὶ ἄρυθμον, τουτέστι δεινότητι πρέπον καὶ λοιδορίᾳ· τὸ γὰρ ἔρρυθμον καὶ εὐήκοον ἐγκωμίοις ἂν πρέποι μᾶλλον ἢ ψόγοις. τοσαῦτα καὶ περὶ συγκρούσεως.

Com. Adesp. 842 Σ Aristophanes Birds 281

“Philokles was a tragic poet, the son of Philopeithes and Aeschylus’ sister. Whoever calls him “Salt’s son” does it because he was bitter and salt is bitter.”

ἔστι δὲ ὁ Φιλοκλῆς τραγῳδίας ποιητὴς, καὶ Φιλοπείθους υἱὸς ἐξ Αἰσχύλου ἀδελφῆς. ὅσοι δὲ Ἁλμίωνος αὐτόν φασιν, ἐπιθετικῶς λέγουσι διὰ τὸ πικρὸν εἶναι. ἅλμη γὰρ ἡ πικρία.

File:Hipponax of Ephesus.jpg

Plato and Friends on Why We Need a Party

Democritus, fr. 230

“A life without parties is a long journey without inns.”

βίος ἀνεόρταστος μακρὴ ὁδὸς ἀπανδόκευτος.

Plato, Laws 653d

“Great. Now, since many of these kinds of education—which accustom us to correctly manage pleasures and pains—lose their effectiveness during life, the gods took pity on  the human race because it is born to toil and assigned to us as well parties as vacations from our toil. In addition, they have also given us the Muses, Apollo the master of music, and Dionysus as party-guests so that people can straighten out their habits because they are present at the festival with the gods.”

ΑΘ. Καλῶς τοίνυν. τούτων γὰρ δὴ τῶν ὀρθῶς τεθραμμένων ἡδονῶν καὶ λυπῶν παιδειῶν οὐσῶν χαλᾶται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις καὶ διαφθείρεται τὰ πολλὰ ἐν τῷ βίῳ, θεοὶ δὲ οἰκτείραντες τὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐπίπονον πεφυκὸς γένος ἀναπαύλας τε αὐτοῖς τῶν πόνων ἐτάξαντο τὰς τῶν ἑορτῶν ἀμοιβὰς [τοῖς θεοῖς] καὶ Μούσας Ἀπόλλωνά τε μουσηγέτην καὶ Διόνυσον ξυνεορταστὰς ἔδοσαν, ἵν᾿ ἐπανορθῶνται τάς γε τροφὰς γενόμενοι ἐν ταῖς ἑορταῖς μετὰ θεῶν.

Thucydides, 2.38.1

“Certainly we have furnished our mind with the greatest reliefs from our labors, maintaining games and feasts throughout the year in public and in private living with care and finery, all those things which provide pleasure to expel our grief. Because of the greatness of our city, everything comes to us from the earth and we are lucky enough to harvest all of the goods from our own land with no less familiar pleasure than those we gather from other peoples.”

‘Καὶ μὴν καὶ τῶν πόνων πλείστας ἀναπαύλας τῇ γνώμῃ ἐπορισάμεθα, ἀγῶσι μέν γε καὶ θυσίαις διετησίοις νομίζοντες, ἰδίαις δὲ κατασκευαῖς εὐπρεπέσιν, ὧν καθ’ ἡμέραν ἡ τέρψις τὸ λυπηρὸν ἐκπλήσσει. ἐπεσέρχεται δὲ διὰ μέγεθος τῆς πόλεως ἐκ πάσης γῆς τὰ πάντα, καὶ ξυμβαίνει ἡμῖν μηδὲν οἰκειοτέρᾳ τῇ ἀπολαύσει τὰ αὐτοῦ ἀγαθὰ γιγνόμενα καρποῦσθαι ἢ καὶ τὰ τῶν ἄλλων ἀνθρώπων.

Special thanks to Dr. Liv Yarrow for tweeting these passages


File:Ancient Greek Symposium. Museum of Nicopolis.jpg
Marble Anaglyph of ancient symposium. A couple in love time. Archaeological Museum of Nicopolis, Preveza.

waynes world wayne GIF by chuber channel

The Best New Year’s Gift

More than one ancient writer might have said that the New Year’s gift with universal appeal is friendship (cue groans).

Here Aristotle makes the logical case for friendship, and Euripides shows friendship at work:

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. 1169b.19-21

No one would wish to enjoy all good things by himself, for human beings are social and born to live with others. Accordingly, a happy person requires the company of others. Also, a happy person possesses the things that are by their nature good. And, it’s clearly better to pass one’s time among friends and good people than among strangers and people who just happen to be on hand. Therefore it follows that a happy person must have friends.

Euripides. Electra. 67-73

I regard you as a friend on par with the gods,
For you have not slighted me in my distress.
It’s great luck when mortals find someone who doctors
To their misfortunes, such as I find in you.
So it’s only right I lighten your burden, unasked;
Add my hands to yours in work, best I can,
So you might more easily carry on.


οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἕλοιτ᾽ ἂν καθ᾽ αὑτὸν τὰ πάντ᾽ ἔχειν ἀγαθά: πολιτικὸν γὰρ ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ συζῆν πεφυκός. καὶ τῷ εὐδαίμονι δὴ τοῦθ᾽ ὑπάρχει: τὰ γὰρ τῇ φύσει ἀγαθὰ ἔχει, δῆλον δ᾽ ὡς μετὰ φίλων καὶ ἐπιεικῶν κρεῖττον ἢ μετ᾽ ὀθνείων καὶ τῶν τυχόντων συνημερεύειν. δεῖ ἄρα τῷ εὐδαίμονι φίλων.


ἐγώ σ᾿ ἴσον θεοῖσιν ἡγοῦμαι φίλον·
ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς γὰρ οὐκ ἐνύβρισας κακοῖς.
μεγάλη δὲ θνητοῖς μοῖρα συμφορᾶς κακῆς
ἰατρὸν εὑρεῖν, ὡς ἐγὼ σὲ λαμβάνω.
δεῖ δή με κἀκέλευστον εἰς ὅσον σθένω
μόχθου ᾿πικουφίζουσαν, ὡς ῥᾷον φέρῃς,
συνεκκομίζειν σοι πόνους.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at

Larry and Joel got to meet in person on Christmas Eve

Ignorance is Better

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) wrote the autobiographical Reveries of a Solitary Walker in that late period of life in which, Solon says, 

“A man is still able, but his tongue and his judgment grow soft where things requiring great skill are concerned.” 

On one of the walks recounted in the book, Rousseau pondered Solon’s famous remark 

“I’m growing old forever learning a great many things.” 

After reflecting on the line and its implications, Rousseau concluded that learning–or at least learning certain things–at a late age was in fact a waste of time. 

He had this to say: 

Solon often repeated this verse in his old age. There’s a sense in which I too can say it in mine. But it is a gloomy science indeed which I’ve acquired in twenty years of experience. Ignorance is preferable to it.  Adversity is, without doubt, a great master, but it charges a lot for its lessons, and often the benefit that we derive isn’t worth the cost. What’s more, before we’ve gotten all that’s to be had from the belated lessons, the occasion to use it has passed. Youth is the time to learn wisdom; old age is the time to put it into practice. Experience always teaches, I admit that. But it’s only beneficial in the space ahead of us. Is it really the time, just when we’re about to die, to learn how we ought to live?

Solon 27:

τῇ δ᾽ ἐνάτῃ ἔτι μὲν δύναται, μαλακώτερα δ᾽ αὐτοῦ
πρὸς μεγάλην ἀρετὴν γλῶσσά τε καὶ σοφίη

Solon 18:

γηράσκω δ᾽ αἰεὶ πολλὰ διδασκόμενος

Rousseau, les Reveries du Promeneur Solitaire (Troisieme Promenade)

Solon répétoit souvent ce vers dans sa vieillesse. Il a un sens dans
lequel je pourrois le dire aussi dans la mienne; mais c’est une bien
triste science que celle que depuis vingt ans l’expérience m’a fait
acquérir: l’ignorance est encore préférable. L’adversité sans doute
est un grand maître; mais ce maître fait payer cher ses leçons, et
souvent le profit qu’on en retire ne vaut pas le prix qu’elles ont
coûté. D’ailleurs, avant qu’on ait obtenu tout cet acquis par des
leçons si tardives, l’à-propos d’en user se passe. La jeunesse est le
temps d’étudier la sagesse; la vieillesse est le temps de la pratiquer.
L’expérience instruit toujours, je l’avoue; mais elle ne profite que
pour l’espace qu’on a devant soi. Est-il temps, au moment qu’il faut
mourir, d’apprendre comment on auroit dû vivre?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, composer of the most popular opera
of 18th century France (Le Devin du Village) and author of
the period’s best selling novel (Julie ou la Nouvelle Heloise).

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at

A Line between Careless and Pensive: More Ancient Words on Drinking

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, 2.10-11

“This is why Bacchylides says (fr. 27):

A sweet force overcomes
The heart in the dances of the cups.
And hope for Aphrodite courses through the thoughts
All mixed up with the gifts of Dionysus.
It raises people’s thoughts to the highest points:
And suddenly: a man seems to sack city walls
And to rule over all men as king.
His homes shine with gold and ivory,
And grain-bearing ships lead home the greatest wealth
From Egypt over the shining sea—
That’s how the mind of a drinker leaps…”

Sophokles says that “drinking is a pain-reliever” and other poems add “pleasant wine, fruit of the earth’ (Il. 3.246). And the king of the poets even has his Odysseus say “whoever fills himself with wine and food may fight all day long with a full heart…” etc.

This is why Simonides says that the origin of wine and music is the same. From drinking, as well, came the discovery of comedy and tragedy in Ikarion in Attica in the season of the grape-harvest [trugês], which is why comedy was first called trug-oidia.

“He gave mortals the pain-relieving vine.
But when there is no more wine, there is no Aphrodite
Nor any other pleasure left for human beings.”

That’s what Euripides says in the Bacchae (771). Astyadamas also says

“He also showed to mortals
The vine, wine-mother, and cure for pain.
If someone fills with wine endlessly, he becomes careless.
If he drinks only a bit, he becomes deeply reflective”.

And then Antiphanes says:

“I am not too drunk to think, but just enough that
I can’t pronounce letters clearly with my mouth.”

διὸ Βακχυλίδης φησί (fr. 27)·

γλυκεῖ’ ἀνάγκα
σευομένα κυλίκων θάλπησι θυμόν·
Κύπριδος δ’ ἐλπὶς διαιθύσσει φρένας
ἀμμιγνυμένα Διονυσίοισι δώροις.
ἀνδράσι δ’ ὑψοτάτω πέμπει μερίμνας·
αὐτίκα μὲν πόλεων κρήδεμνα λύει,
πᾶσι δ’ ἀνθρώποις μοναρχήσειν δοκεῖ.
χρυσῷ δ’ ἐλέφαντί τε μαρμαίρουσιν οἶκοι·
πυροφόροι δὲ κατ’ αἰγλήεντα . . .
νῆες ἄγουσιν ἀπ’ Αἰγύπτου μέγιστον
πλοῦτον· ὣς πίνοντος ὁρμαίνει κέαρ.

Σοφοκλῆς δέ φησι (fr. 687 N)· … τὸ μεθύειν πημονῆς λυτήριον. οἱ δ’ ἄλλοι ποιηταί φασι τὸν ‘οἶνον ἐύφρονα καρπὸν ἀρούρης (Γ 246).’ καὶ ὁ τῶν ποιητῶν δὲ βασιλεὺς
τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα παράγει λέγοντα (Τ 167)· ‘ὃς δέ κ’ ἀνὴρ / οἴνοιο κορεσσάμενος καὶ/ ἐδωδῆς πανημέριος πολεμίζῃ, /θαρσαλέον νύ οἱ ἦτορ’ καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς. ὅτι Σιμωνίδης (fr. 221) τὴν αὐτὴν ἀρχὴν τίθησιν οἴνου καὶ μουσικῆς. ἀπὸ μέθης καὶ ἡ τῆς κω-
μῳδίας καὶ ἡ τῆς τραγῳδίας εὕρεσις ἐν ᾿Ικαρίῳ τῆς ᾿Αττικῆς εὑρέθη, καὶ κατ’ αὐτὸν τὸν τῆς τρύγης καιρόν· ἀφ’ οὗ δὴ καὶ τρυγῳδία τὸ πρῶτον ἐκλήθη ἡ κωμῳδία.

τὴν παυσίλυπον ἄμπελον δοῦναι βροτοῖς.
οἴνου δὲ μηκέτ’ ὄντος οὐκ ἔστιν Κύπρις
οὐδ’ ἄλλο τερπνὸν οὐδὲν ἀνθρώποις ἔτι,

Εὐριπίδης ἐν Βάκχαις φησί (771). καὶ ᾿Αστυδάμας δέ φησι (p. 605 N)·

θνητοῖσι τὴν ἀκεσφόρον
λύπης ἔφηνεν οἰνομήτορ’ ἄμπελον. —
συνεχῶς μὲν γὰρ ἐμπιπλάμενος ἀμελὴς γίνεται
ἄνθρωπος, ὑποπίνων δὲ πάνυ φροντιστικός,

᾿Αντιφάνης φησίν (II 123 K).

οὐ μεθύω τὴν φρόνησιν, ἀλλὰ τὸ τοιοῦτον μόνον,
τὸ διορίζεσθαι βεβαίως τῷ στόματι τὰ γράμματα,

Drinking Philosophy

Reading Lucilian Satire in the Age of Twitter

Dealing with the fragmentary nature of the evidence for the ancient world is frustrating to say the least. Take for example the so-called inventor of satire Gaius Lucilius. Out of the thirty books of his satires we have a mere few hundred lines.

Most of these books are filled with seemingly random one-liners such as “et mercedimerae legiones,” which means “and wage-earning legions.” After reading several lines that were similar to this one, I struggled to appreciate Lucilius’ art. And even after digesting massive amounts of secondary scholarship on the satirist I found myself lost. I wrestled to figure out what was it that made reading Lucilius so frustrating. The answer was so obvious. He is in fragments. Perhaps if I understood the context of “ut iure peritus (like one skilled in law),” it would not have given me such a headache. And while not all of Lucilius’ satires are this obscure a large chunk of them are.

The frustration and puzzlement I felt reminded me of how I feel when I read a politician’s twitter. Like Lucilius, tweets can often be confusing. For example, on February 10th, 2013 Sean Spicer tweeted “whomever just unfollowed me- show yourself you coward.” I remember my high school teacher at the time sharing this in class and having more questions than I did answers. Besides the fact that I did not know who Sean Spicer was at the time. I was confused by the nature of the tweet itself.

Sean had over 400,000 followers on twitter and he could have been unfollowed by anyone of them. Apparently, Sean was not being sarcastic at the time and was legitimately upset by losing a follower. Similarly, Lucillius could have been referring to any number of wage-earning legions. Even scholars with an impressively dense breadth of knowledge on the context in which Lucilius wrote have scrambled trying to understand lines like this. In fact, it is unlikely that we will ever know Lucilius’ merry band of money-hungry legions. And poor Sean will probably never know who unfollowed him.

In Book 14 of his satires Lucilius writes that, “nemo est halicarius posterior te,” which means “No wheat-grinder is second to you.” There are a few things that frustrate the reader here. One, who is the worst miller of all time that Lucilius is referring to here? Two, it appears as though Lucilius disagrees with the common spelling of alicarius, which scholars debated over. However, the correct spelling is alicarius. So, was Lucilius just trying to be funny? Did he not know any better? The sad truth is, we will never know.

On May 31st, 2017 Donald J. Trump tweeted “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” He later claimed that this was an intentional mistake, but the truth was that he fell asleep while tweeting. It is obvious that he meant to say conference not covfefe. However, regardless of the spelling error there is still a problem with this tweet that puzzles the reader. Let us imagine that Trump had tweeted out “Despite the constant negative press conference.” There is still a lack of context that leaves the reader guessing. What happened as a result? Was he successful in some business deal? Did his approval rating go up? Did he pass a new bill? The questions that come to one’s mind are endless.

Another issue is the matter of invective. Twitter seems to be a great place for such things these days. If you scroll through Twitter at any time during the day, there is guaranteed to be some post where someone is putting someone else on blast. This is not unlike Roman satire. Lucilius for example makes a satire out of a legal despute between a certain Albicius and a man named Scaevola. In fact, this seems to be the longest fragment of Lucilius that we have recovered thus far. It reads (Lucilius 87-93). :

Graecum te, Albuci, quam Romanum atque Sabinum, municipem Ponti, Tritani,
centurionum, praeclarorum hominum ac primorum signiferumque, maluisti dici. Graece
ergo praetor Athenis, id quod maluisti, te, cum ad me accedis, saluto: ‘chaere’, inquam,
‘Tite’. lictores, turma omnis chorusque [cohorsque Manutius]: ‘chaere, Tite’. hinc hostis
mi Albucius, hinc inimicus (Lucilius 87-93).

Albucius, you wanted to be called a Greek instead of a Roman and a Sabine, a citizen of
Pontius and Tritanus, of centurions, of illustrious and first men and of standard-bearers.
Therefore, I as a praetor salute you at Athens in Greek, when you get to me, as you
wanted “Hey, Titus,” I said. The lictors, all of the squadron and the chorus, said “Hey
Titus.” (My translation).

While reading Lucilius is frustrating, because there is so much missing, it is also addicting. I kept reading line after line for the slim chance that I would better understand the poet and his satires. On the other hand, understanding tweets like the ones I mentioned above do not require nearly as much effort. One can simply google “why did Trump say the following?” or “why did Sean Spicer freak out on Twitter?” Even if at first these tweets leave the reader confused, they can quickly find an adequate answer. Unfortunately, Lucilius and many other authors that are left in fragments will most likely remain mysterious.

If someone were to google “why did Lucilius say the following?” or “why did Lucilius insult this miller?” There would probably be tons of suggested reading that would pop up which ask similar questions. Studying the ancient world can be frustrating. Especially when dealing with authors like Lucilius who are severely fragmented. If we want to know about what is going on in today’s world, we simply have to open a browser and ask away. Though, that in itself is a tricky process.


Javal A. Coleman was born and raised in Fort Worth Texas. After receiving his Bachelors in History with a minor in Latin and Classical Studies at the University of North Texas, he married his wife who he met at UNT and  moved to Austin to pursue a Phd in Classics at the University of Texas. Javal is primarily interested in the history of enslavement and more generally disenfranchised people and how law and gender contributed to their lived experience. In his free time he loves to read, play video games, and spend time with his wife and their beautiful daughter. 

A Day With the Dead: Introducting Chas Libretto’s “Laodamiad” for Reading Greek Tragedy Online

Euripides, Trojan Women, fr. 646a

“Follow me when I guide you”

ἕπου δὲ μοῦνον ἀμπρεύοντί μοι.

Today’s performance of Reading Greek Tragedy Online is a new play, The Laodamiad,  by Chas LiBretto based on the story of Euripides’ Protesilaus . Protesilaus is the first hero to die at Troy and who received cult rites at a few places in ancient Greece. Euripdiess’ play remains only in fragments.

Laodameia is the name of Protesilaus’ wife, according to the Euripidean tradition. Other traditions have him married to Polydora, a child of Meleager. IN the non-Homeric tradition, Protesilaus was permitted to leave the underworld to meet his wife for a single day. The action of the play seems to have centered around this event, following Laodameia’s grief and the reactions of her near and dear.

Chas Libretto brings us a new interpretation of this story, rooted in the fragments that have survived and imagining the pieces we have lost. In a way, this is as true to the theme of the tale as humanly possible, arranging the remains of the lives we lead around the absence of the people we’ve lost.

Special Guests

Erika Weiberg
Performers and Scenes
Music performed by Bettina Joy de Guzman
Jessie Cannizarro
Tamieka Chavis
Damian Jermaine Thompson
Rene Thornton Jr.
Laodamia – Female, 20s
Iolaus/Protesilaos/Podarces, her husband and his brother – Male, 20s
Acastus, her father – Male, 50s – 60s
Chorus – Male/Female, 30s – 60s
Odysseus – Male, 30s

Euripides, Protesilaus fr. 650

“Illogical hopes deceive mortals”

πόλλ᾿ ἐλπίδες ψεύδουσιν ἅλογοι βροτούς.

Euripides, Protesilaus fr. 654

“When two are speaking and one is enraged
the one who resists fighting with words is the wiser.”

δυοῖν λεγόντοιν, θατέρου θυμουμένου,
ὁ μὴ ἀντιτείνων τοῖς λόγοις σοφώτερος

Crew and Amazing People
Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Host and Faculty Consultant: Joel Christensen (Brandeis University)
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Poster Illustration Artist: John Koelle

Euripides, Protesilaus fr. 655

“I won’t betray someone I love even when they’re dead.”

οὐκ ἂν προδοίην καίπερ ἄψυχον φίλον.

Future episodes

All start times are 3pm ET unless otherwise noted. Live stream available at and on YouTube.

December 15 An Ancient Cabaret

Euripides, Protesilaus fr. 657

“Anyone who lumps all women together in slander
Is unsubtle and unwise
For among the many women you will find one wicked
And another with a spirit as noble as this one”

ὅστις δὲ πάσας συντιθεὶς ψέγει λόγῳ
γυναῖκας ἑξῆς, σκαιός ἐστι κοὐ σοφός
πολλῶν γὰρ οὐσῶν τὴν μὲν εὑρήσεις κακήν
τὴν δ᾿ ὥσπερ ἥδε λῆμ᾿ ἔχουσαν εὐγενές

I am You and You are Me

The Fragmentary “Gospel According to Eve”

“I stood on a high mountain and I saw one tall person and another short one. And I heard something like a thunder’s sound and I went closer to hear it. He addressed me and said: “I am you and you are me and wherever you are I am there; and I am implanted in all things. So you can gather me from wherever you want. And when you harvest me, you harvest yourself.”

ἔστην ἐπὶ ὄρους ὑψηλοῦ καὶ εἶδον ἄνθρωπον μακρὸν καὶ  ἄλλον κολοβὸν καὶ ἤκουσα ὡσεὶ φωνὴν βροντῆς καὶ ἤγγισα τοῦ ἀκοῦσαι καὶ ἐλάλησε πρός με καὶ εἶπεν· ἐγὼ σὺ καὶ σὺ ἐγώ, καὶ ὅπου ἐὰν ᾗς, ἐγὼ ἐκεῖ εἰμι καὶ ἐν ἅπασίν εἰμι  ἐσπαρμένος· καὶ ὅθεν ἐὰν θέλῃς, συλλέγεις με, ἐμὲ δὲ συλλέγων ἑαυτὸν συλλέγεις

Creation of Eve, Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo