Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter by Thomas Cahill

I’ve already begun thinking of myself as part-Greek, which is, I know, very ridiculous.  Just because I will live in the country for a year does not mean I have a right to claim their heritage as my own….except that Cahill has written an entire book about how the Western world has been shaped by the Greek worldview for the last two and a half thousand years.  So while I may not be Greek in heritage, I am in spirit.

Cahill divides his chapters into themes that also follow a general chronological pattern.  I found this to be a much easier way to track with the history and culture presented.  He also makes use of a lot of literature, which, as a book nerd, I found especially delightful.  Beginning with Homer’s The Iliad, Cahill describes Greek warriors and their obsession with glory on the battlefield.  We then move on emotions, celebrations, politics, philosophy, art, and religion.  Over and over again, Cahill reminds us just how strongly our present-day culture resembles the ancient Greeks.

I’ve always loved Greek mythology, my high school English class spent some time with Sophocles and Homer, and I took art history classes as electives in college.  I’m a little familiar with a lot of Greek history and thought, but Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea put everything into context.  For instance, the shift in Greek sculptures from rigid idealistic poses of men to the twisting, agonized figures in the famous Laocoon and His Sons came about as the strength of Athens waned, first to Sparta in the Peloponnesian War and then to Rome.

This book hits all of my interests:  art, literature, history, culture, and GREECE.  Perfect.  Continue reading

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StumbleUpon Sunday (15)

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. 10 Incredible Thrill-Seeking Adventures To Do Around the World
    I will never do any of these because I am a big coward.  Maybe the wing walking.  But only on a dare.
  2. 29 Mind-Blowing Coincidences You Won’t Believe Happened
    I’m naming my son Hugh Williams.
  3. Dog and Lamb
    A boxer frolicked with a lamb, and there are pictures!
  4. What It’s Like to Fly the $23,000 Singapore Airlines Suite Class
    Oh my GOSH this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever read.  Someday when I’m flush with cash I will spoil myself silly on the world’s most expensive flight.  The guy who wrote this has a great sense of humor, too.  I especially loved his horror at sleeping for six hours, or “$6,000 worth of the flight.”
  5. 14 Brilliant Pieces of Literature You Can Read in the Time it Takes to Eat Lunch
    I love this list of bite-sized literature.  It is especially useful for its links to places you can read the story for free.
  6. ‘Real Monsters’ Art – Mental Illnesses as Monsters
    Wow.  These creatures are really beautiful, in a horrible way.  The artist, Toby Allen, does a wonderful job making mental illnesses understandable.
  7. 26 Gifs So Cute You Might Die a Sudden, Tragic Death
    Death by adorable is a good way to go.  (Hint: click on #5 to see a whole video of this tiny orange kitten climbing up to sit on a cameraman’s head. And #11 IS SO CUTE.  Just, all of them.  Look at all of them.)
  8. 12 Interspecies Hugs That Show That Love is Universal
    More cuteness!  I’m especially awed by the lion and the fawn, but there’s also the cat and the owl!  And that last picture of a koala sleeping on a dog’s back is super adorable.
  9. 10 Mnemonic Tricks for Never Forgetting Anything Again
    Super useful!
  10. What Real Beauty Looks Like Around the World
    These photos of diverse women in their 20s are a stunning reminder to embrace your culture and background.

StumbleUpon Sunday (11)

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. Sound Composition: Calm Thunder Storm
    Want to enjoy the soothing sounds of rain and thunder without ruining your hair or soaking your shoes?  This site is all the good without the bad!
  2. Map of Literary Road Trips
    How cool!  Now you can relive the journeys of On the Road or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance…or just hang this on your wall and look cool.
  3. I Has a Bucket
    HAHA, okay, this has no value apart from restoring some fond college nostalgia.  Maybe it also has historical value, as one of the Internet’s first memes?
  4. 15 Books Every High School Student Should Read
    I haven’t read six of the recommended books, but based upon the nine that I have, I think this list is a great starting place for choosing readable classics.
  5. Architectural Watercolors by Maja Wronska
    Any art that makes me say, “Um, NO,” because I cannot fathom how it is possible deserves a spot on this list.
  6. Famous Television Show Home Floor Plans
    Take this to an architect and you too can live like Monica and Rachel.
  7. Underlined Book Quotes Become Clever Illustrations
    These are beautiful!  I particularly like the drawing for “listen, there’s a hell of a good universe next door, let’s go.”
  8. Some Perfectly Timed Photos – Part II
    Hehehe.  It’s always fun to indulge in some low brow humor.
  9. Halloween Costume Ideas – 50 Pics
    Never hurts to plan ahead…especially if you’re going to create Princess Leia and R2-D2 costumes for little toddlers OMG!
  10. 10 Ways to Up Your Campfire Cooking Game
    Mmmmm!  Lamb Ribs in Balsamic Huckleberry BBQ Sauce?  Yes please!

On Reading Books Meant for Children

In On Three Ways of Writing for Children, C. S. Lewis says:

When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

I’ve gone through the same cycle.  I loved kid’s books when I was in elementary school.  But then I became known as a “reader,” which for some reason felt like I needed to step up my game.  I read The Three Musketeers in sixth grade, and I got hooked on the classics.  I read Austen, Brontë, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald.  I became a bit of a book snob (the Harry Potter series excepted), and I spent all of my time in book stores and libraries scanning the “Literature” section.  I took great pride in being a teenager not in “Young Adult” section.  Continue reading