Annual Top 10: Into The Fire out Of The Fire

“No one is so old that he thinks he could not live another year”

nemo enim est tam senex qui se annum non putet posse vivere #Cicero

2021 has kept us busy: from another year of Reading Greek Tragedy Online, to the debut of Pasts Imperfect, to a new baby, minor medical incidents, and just making it through each day, there’s been a lot of busyness in the second year of our COVID. Somehow, we kept this page up and running. Shit, if COVID, an insurrection, and a pandemic baby won’t kill this page, only Zeus knows what will.

So, another year, another list.  Here are the new posts that got the most attention in 2021. Notable is that this is the first year when a majority of the top posts are by guests.

  1. Just a Girl: Being Briseis: an anonymous post on the challenges of teaching the Iliad when students (and instructor) have encountered sexual violence.
  2. Save the Humanities with this One Simple Trick: A take-down of Eric Adler’s milquetoast and limited The Battle of the Classics.
  3. Classics Beyond Whiteness: An Interview: Amy Lather and  T. H. M. Gellar-Goad discuss a course at Wake Forest and Challenges in Classical Studies
  4. Heroic Grief: Celebrating a New Book on the Iliad: A few reflections on Emily Austin’s new book on the Iliad: Grief and the Hero: The Futility of Longing in the Iliad 
  5. On the Linda Lindas, GenX and Classical Reception Studies: Arum Park’s fantastic discussion of identity, reception, and the Linda Lindas.
  6. Hektor’s Body and the Burden: A reflection on physical trauma the rereading of Hektor’s actions in the Iliad
  7. The Rest Can Go to Hell: Some Funerary Epigrams: A throw-back post!
  8. There’s Only One City: Istanbul: one of Arie Amaya Akkermans’ fabulous, ranging essays
  9. Add/Drop/Keep: A Classics Conversation: A conversation between Nandini Pandey and  Ethan Ganesh Warren imagining the future of Classical Studies.
  10. The Wave of All Waves: Another fantastic essay by Arie Amaya Akkermans

“The coming years bring us many comforts, and take many away as they pass.”

Multa ferunt anni uenientes commoda secum,
multa recedentes adimunt. #Horace

If you can’t get enough of me, I published some things

At the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, ancient Greece and Rome can tell us a lot about the links between collective trauma and going to war.” The Conversation September 3, 2021

with Sarah E. Bond, “The Man Behind the Myth: Should We Question the Hero’s Journey?” LA Review of Books, August 12, 2021 

Not everyone cheered the ancient Olympic games, but the sacred games brought together rival societies.” The Conversation, July 28, 2021

What Greek epics taught me about the special relationship between fathers and sons.” The Conversation, June 15, 2021

How theater can help communities heal from the losses and trauma of the pandemic.The Conversation, May 20, 2021

What Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ can teach us about reentering the world after a year of isolation.” The Conversation, April 22, 2021

I spent too much time talking

On Podcasts

Movies We Dig!

A Bit Lit, April 2021

Ithaca Bound, On Achilles

Ithaca Bound, On Paris

Being Curious with Jonathan Van Ness (21 July 2021, with Sarah E. Bond)

Let’s Talk About Myths Baby with Liv Albert

On YouTube

Myth Salon, June 10, 2021 (or see this website)

Contra Campbell, December 13th, 2021 (Dan Schneider Interview 332)

On the Radio

WNHN’s The Attitude, May 6th, 2021

WORT’s The O’Clock Buzz, May 24th 2021

WNHN’s “The Attitude, May 27th 2021

WNHN’s “The Attitude, June 17th, 2021

WORT’s The 8 O’Clock Buzz, June 21, 2021

WNHN’s “The Attitude, July 12th, 2021

WORT “The 8 OClock Buzz, September 6th, 2021

WNHN’s “The Attitude”, September 8th, 2021

WNHN’s “The Attitude,” Nov 24, 2021

Some conventional things were published too, email or DM for a copy

“Beautiful Bodies, Beautiful Minds: Some Applications of Disability Studies to Homer.” Classical World 114.4

 “Catharsis During Covid-19: Learning about Greek Tragedy Online.’ Teaching Classics in Pandemic Times (Didaskalika 7) edited by Wolfgang Polleichtner. 2021 Speyer: Kartoffeldruck. 34–48.

  (With E.T.E. Barker) “Heracles in Epic.” The Oxford Handbook to Heracles, edited by Daniel Ogden.

  “Odysseus’ ‘Right’: Failed Transition and Political Power in the Odyssey” SAGE Business Cases

Some More Things Were Published

Seneca, De Brevitate Vitae 13

“It would be annoying to list all the people who spent their lives pursuing board games, ball games, or sunbathing. Men whose pleasures are so busy are not at leisure. For example, no one will be surprised that those occupied by useless literary studies work strenuously—and there is great band of these in Rome now too.

This sickness used to just afflict the Greeks, to discover the number of oarsmen Odysseus possessed, whether the Iliad was written before the Odyssey, whether the poems belong to the same author, and other matters like this which, if you keep them to yourself, cannot please your private mind; but if you publish them, you seem less learned than annoying.”

Persequi singulos longum est, quorum aut latrunculi aut pila aut excoquendi in sole corporis cura consumpsere vitam. Non sunt otiosi, quorum voluptates multum negotii habent. Nam de illis nemo dubitabit, quin operose nihil agant, qui litterarum inutilium studiis detinentur, quae iam apud Romanos quoque magna manus est. Graecorum iste morbus fuit quaerere, quem numerum Ulixes remigum habuisset, prior scripta esset Ilias an Odyssia, praeterea an eiusdem essent auctoris, alia deinceps huius notae, quae sive contineas, nihil tacitam conscientiam iuvant sive proferas, non doctior videaris sed molestior.

This year’s publications were not as numerous as last, but there was a book, some articles and some things. N.B. If you want a copy of anything, just email me.


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

Our “Frogs and Mice Book” came out in paperback, with corrections and a vastly improved price.

Joel P. Christensen and Erik Robinson. The Homeric Battle of Frogs and Mice: Introduction, Translation and Commentary  Bloomsbury [Paperback, 2019]

HT Cover.jpg


J. P. Christensen. “Revising Athena’s Rage: Kassandra and the Homeric Appropriation of Nostos.” YAGE  3: 88–116.

Becoming Powerful Through Compromise: Hesiod’s Zeus as Chairman of the Gods,” SAGE Business Cases, Ancient  Leadership


Book Reviews

Loving Latin at the end of the World” a Review of N. Gardini, Long Live Latin!  (2019), Boston Review

Review of M. Alden, Para-Narratives in the Odyssey (Oxford, 2017), CR  69.1

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

Online Things

with Erik Robinson, “VII Philosophies for the Modern Bro.” Eidolon, Apr. 1, 2019.

with Evan McDuff, “Pour Some Pepper on Me: the King of Spices in Greece and Rome.” Eidolon, Feb. 19, 2018.

Annual Atopia: the Not-Top 10

Yesterday I posted a list of the top 10 posts on the site based on page-views. Sometimes we can guess which posts are going to generate some traffic; other times, we are surprised both by those that are popular and those.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite posts that didn’t make the top 10 (for comparison, last year’s list).

1. Brillionaire’s Club

An essay about the labor practices of academic publishing and the economics of exploitation. Also, I paean to open access.

2. An Unlikely Hybrid: Medusa, Miley Cyrus, and the Politics of the Female Tongue

Amy Lather’s post on the modern and ancient iconographies of the tongue

3. The Vanity of Virtue: Contemporary Pseudo-Stoicism

We mocked modern Stoics in an Eidolon piece, but this essay by Erik is less amused.

4. Shitizens United

When Erik gets on a roll, we all just want to tag along. One of a few essays on the curmudgeonly creep masquerading as a Classicist named Victor Hanson

5. A Hero Shot A Man, Just to…

So, one day we asked the question whether Odysseus or Achilles was more likely to “shoot a man in Reno /  just to watch him die”. Feelings happened.

6. The Aeneid‘s Pot Brownie, Commentary on 6.420

I just don’t know why this title alone did not win the Internet. Another fabulous piece by Dani Bostick

7. “Our Culture” Anatolian Edition

Ari Akkermans’ balanced and thorough overview of appropriations of Classical culture in Turkey.

8. Ipse Dixit: Citation and Authority

Hannah Čulík-Baird’s essay on quotation and authority–kind of her specialty.

9. Give Your Money to the Sportula

Just read the title and do it.

10. Aeriportus Virumque Cano: Trump’s Revolutionary War Airports

11. Emolument’s Claws

Please read this essay. It is really fucking smart (Joel said this. Erik wrote it)

12. Counting Matters: The National Latin Exam and the Politics of Record Keeping

Some of Dani Bostick’s great public work for Classical Studies.

13. The Future of the Past

People didn’t get into this essay on how we should be thinking about preserving our work for the coming civilization collapse. I wonder why?

14. A New Musical Papyrus

Christopher Brunelle’s “discovery” is hilarious and deeply learned. This should have broken the Internet. You know, if more people knew about papyri and ancient music…


Valentine's Fart

Thanks to our friends Deborah Beck, Christopher Brunelle, Amy Coker, Brandon Conley, Hannah Čulík-Baird, Ari Akkermans, Dani Bostick, Amy Lather, Alexandra Ratzlaff for making this year fabulous.

Annual Atopia: The Not-Top 10

Yesterday I posted a list of the top 10 posts on the site based on page-views. Sometimes we can guess which posts are going to generate some traffic; other times, we are surprised both by those that are popular and those. Here’s a list of some of my favorite posts that didn’t make the top 10.

1. Tessered Latin and Greek: A Lexical “Wrinkle in Time”

Mimi Kramer wrote a great story in the Daily Beast about Greek (and a little Latin) in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. This blog has a little cameo…

2. The Difference of A Year: Some Links to Classicists Fighting the Good Fight Online

One of the things we don’t do enough on this blog that I want to try to do more of next year is promoting others’ work online (and off). In this post we highlighted some of the critical work Classicists are doing today. Several months later, the importance of their efforts has only increased.

3. Skatokhasm: Another Word You Know You Need

We posted a good deal of political material over the past year and got some minor abuse for it. It is hard to choose from the many absurd things we posted in response to the degeneration of our public discourse, but this riffing on shit-hole, σκατοχάσμα is one of my favorite.

4. Philology at Dinner: How I Began to Love Classics

Erik wrote a moving and important essay about what drew him to Classics. I have reread it many times. You should too.

5. Parenting While Teaching Greek Badly

I wrote a few essays this year that were deeply personal. This one is a little more uplifting than my bit on death. Also, while I certainly live the latter on a daily basis, I am all the more certain with each passing day that I will miss the parenting and teaching badly the most.

6. Tell Me Aristotle, Why Do We Have Butts?

Dr. Rebecca Raphael mentioned this passage on facebook and I had to post it. It is everything the world needs right now.

7. In Defense of Obscenity

Erik wrote this piece as part of defending the use of the colloquial and obscene from the ancient world on this blog and in the classroom. It emerged in part from an ongoing discussion about our discomfort with how popular the Tawdry Tuesday posts are. I don’t think we’re done figuring this one out, but I think we will keep returning to this post to think about it.

8. Humanizing a Monster II

This is the first album review to appear on the website! Erik writes movingly about the way Moonface engages with the story of the Minotaur (from his perspective) and humanizes both the monster and the audience by doing so. I have been listening to the album regularly since he posted this.

9. Newly Discovered Text: A Late Antique Dialogue on “The Etymology of ‘Mimosa’”

Benjamin Eldon Stevens posted a funny meme on twitter about the etymology of Mimosa. I butted in and added a different etymology. It turned into a blogpost.

10. The New Sappho Poem: a Student Commentary

This post is the product of work some of my Greek Lyric Class at Brandeis did. It is probably the best thing we did in class over the semester. (Note: teaching lyric is hard!)

Honorable Mentions:

“Your Father Does Not Dine With Us”: Orphanhood and Dehumanization
Science and Humanity
No, Internet, Kerberos is Probably Not “Spot”
Classroom Confession: I am a Terrible Teacher
What Does Helen Look Like?

Drinking Meme

Top Posts of Another Year

Outside of the top few posts, this was a year of guest posts and essays. Erik and I were always willing and interested to share the blog with other people, but we have never really had the time to go out and seek them. So, when people have reached out to us, we have been happy to have them join us.

  1. Diocletian’s Horse Saves the City!

This post wasn’t even from this year! Somehow, it turned into a hot post on Reddit for a while and burned down the house.


2. Newly Discovered Text: Caesar on Forestry in Finland

Dani Bostick’s ‘discovery’ of a fragmentary text responding to fires in California and some of our current President’s more insane comments was politely declined by a few other sites. It found a home here and Dani has shared many more new Latin discoveries since.

3. Head and Heart: A Quotation Falsely Attributed to Aristotle

This one eventually inspired a collection of false-Aristotle quotes I eventually just put in one post: Meme Police, A Collection of Things Aristotle Did not Say

4. “This is Not My Beautiful House”: Classics, Class and Identity

This post was a response to some discussion online and Erik’s post (at #9) about Class and Classics. It seems to have hit a nerve and prompted more discussion. We got a great followup from Brandon Conley: “How Was [the Expensive Classics Event]?”

5. Classics and Theory: A Monday Rant

This started out as a twitter rant and turned into an essay. There are still many, many people who have a naive attitude about what theory is and how it shapes writing, teaching, and just being in the world. There is still an alarmingly stubborn faction in Classics who falsely oppose “Philology” to theory, imagining that the former is not a species of the latter. I think forms of this one will keep coming back.

6. The Humanities: Aristotle in the Sheets, But Xenophon on the Streets

There was a NY Times Op-Ed on the Humanities that got me up in arms. I posted some tweets, wrote a thing. Erik is working on a much deeper and prolonged project on the Humanities and Classics among the Founding Fathers. Since the culture wars continue and the humanities are always already embattled, this subject will probably come back too.

7. A List of Women Authors from the Ancient World

This is a list that needs more work. I am still looking for people to help me expand these entries!

8. Famae Volent: a Personal History

The infamous and hated although obsessively checked classics job bulletin board closed down this year. I wrote a wistful and self-indulgent piece about it. Then I wrote a second one. The successor site is not nearly as interesting.

9. Classics [Itself] Is Not Classist

When Grace Bertelli (The Classics Major is Classist) first wrote on this topic, we had some discussions online and Erik wrote this overview of why the content of Classics is not essentially class-oriented. As with all of his essays, it is sharp and filled with turns of phrase I wish I could think of.

10. Terrible, Wonderful Odysseus, His Epithets, and How We Read Him

This is a hodgpodge of stuff about Odysseus which started out as a twitter discussion because people don’t like my occasional translation of polytropos as shifty. (Don’t @ me! Read the post!)

Some things I love outside the top 10

  1. The Story of Dido in the Aeneid Through Buffy GIFS
  2. Classics For the Fascists
  3. How Was the [Expensive] Classics Event: Income Inequality and the Classics
  4. Exploring Gender and Sexuality in Antiquity
  5. Reclaiming the Story: Ovid’s Mythological Hermaphrodite
  6. Post-Classical Intellectualism in the Latin Classroom


Thanks to Elton BarkerDani Bostick, Brandon ConleyHilary Ilkay, Cassie Garrison, Christian LehmannBen Stevens, and Zachary Taylor for making the past year memorable and special