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Emily Wilson: Artemis is with us, 4 August 2022

... The sanctuary​ at Brauron, not far from Athens, was the site of an important cult to Artemis. There are impressive reconstructed remains of the temple to the goddess and the three-sided stoa, which would have served as the cafeteria area, as well as the sacred spring. Visitors can cross the only stone bridge that survives from ancient Greece, complete with grooves like trolley-tracks to ease the path of wheels, indicating the number of trips made by expensive vehicles, laden with food and clothing as well as worshippers ...

Flip-flopping

Emily Wilson: Can heroes hesitate and still be heroic?, 17 November 2005

Hesitant Heroes: Private Inhibitions, Cultural Crisis 
by Theodore Ziolkowski.
Cornell, 163 pp., £17.50, March 2004, 0 8014 4203 6
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... Most of us, it seems, tend to think of the ‘hero’ as someone who never hesitates. As soon as he has made up his mind, he acts. But in Hesitant Heroes Theodore Ziolkowski identifies texts central to the Western canon – the Oresteia, the Aeneid, Parzival, Hamlet, Wallenstein – which show heroes who hesitate at the moment of decision. He argues that each of these works uses the personal hesitation of a single character to represent a broad cultural crisis, a shift in values from one ethical or social norm to another ...

So Caucasian

Emily Wilson: ZZ Packer, 1 April 2004

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere 
by ZZ Packer.
Canongate, 238 pp., £9.99, February 2004, 1 84195 478 0
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... The epigraph to Drinking Coffee Elsewhere comes from Alex Haley’s Roots: ‘The histories have been written by the winners.’ The implication is that this collection will give us the voice of the losers. But ZZ Packer looks like an outsider only if you concentrate exclusively on racial identity. She went to Yale and then to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop ...

Tongue breaks

Emily Wilson: Sappho, 8 January 2004

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho 
by Anne Carson.
Virago, 397 pp., £12.99, November 2003, 1 84408 081 1
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The Sappho History 
by Margaret Reynolds.
Palgrave, 311 pp., £19.99, May 2003, 0 333 97170 1
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Sappho's Leap 
by Erica Jong.
Norton, 320 pp., $24.95, May 2003, 0 393 05761 5
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... Some time around the ninth century, Sappho’s nine books were irrecoverably lost. We have some tantalising scraps, single lines and short quotations, but only one complete poem – the ‘Ode to Aphrodite’ (Fragment 1), which is quoted by Dionysius of Halicarnassus. A few longish passages from other poems have been preserved in other authors: the most famous is Fragment 31 (‘He seems to me equal to gods’), quoted at length in On the Sublime ...

Punishment by Radish

Emily Wilson: Aristophanes Remixed, 21 October 2021

Four Plays 
by Aristophanes, translated by Aaron Poochigian.
Norton, 398 pp., £29.75, March 2021, 978 1 63149 650 9
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... When​ Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion released ‘WAP’ in August 2020, ‘conservative’ commentators such as Tucker Carlson expressed outrage that the song might corrupt ‘your granddaughters’; Alyssa Rosenberg in the Washington Post celebrated it as an ‘ode to female sexual pleasure’. The video featured the two long-lashed goddesses twerking their way through a gilded McMansion in fabulous candy-coloured outfits, like bethonged Disney princesses ...

Ave, Jeeves!

Emily Wilson: Rom(an) Com, 21 February 2008

Plautine Elements in Plautus 
by Eduard Fraenkel, translated by Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke.
Oxford, 459 pp., £79, November 2006, 0 19 924910 5
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Plautus: ‘Asinaria – The One about the Asses’ 
translated by John Henderson.
Wisconsin, 252 pp., £13.50, December 2006, 0 299 21994 1
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Terence: The Comedies 
translated by Peter Brown.
Oxford, 338 pp., £9.99, January 2008, 978 0 19 282399 1
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Terence: Comedies 
translated by Frederick Clayton.
Exeter, 290 pp., £45, January 2006, 0 85989 757 5
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... When the Romans won wars, they brought home large numbers of enslaved foreign prisoners, to work the fields, mills and mines of the countryside, and to provide an enormous range of domestic services for wealthy city-dwellers. Slaves did the hard labour, but they were also essential for all the things that made a rich Roman’s life comfortable. Most of the work we would classify as part of the ‘service industry’ or the ‘entertainment industry’ was done by slaves ...

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