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 (7)

StumbleUpon is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet.

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. 16 Things I Know Are True But Haven’t Quite Learned Yet
    Great words of wisdom!  “All you need to do to finish things is keep starting them until they’re done.
  2. Rashad Alabarov Paints with Shadows and Light
    These are so incredible I almost can’t believe they’re real.
  3. 35 Tumblr Posts That’ll Make You Reevaluate Your Entire Existence
    Hahaha!  Great (idiotic) thought-provoking scenarios like:  “I won’t take a bullet for anyone because if I have to jump in front of a bullet, you have time to move.”
  4. 31 Places Everyone Should Visit Before They Die
    Wow!  Chittorgarh, India looks like a fantasy land!  *checks flight costs*  AND #27 is incredibly useful.
  5. A Photo Exploration of the Nomadic Culture in Mongolia
    Mongolia!  Probably my favorite place I’ve visited, in terms of uniqueness and beauty.
  6. Bookshelf Porn
    If I weren’t before, I’m now convinced that my future home must be wall-to-wall bookshelves.
  7. Funny Airplane Announcements
    “As you exit the plane, please make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.”
  8. Photos: What the Sky Should Look Like Without Light Pollution
    These are stunning.
  9. 10 Things You’ll See in Almost Every Tim Burton Film
    I love Tim Burton, and knowing he repeats himself does nothing to lessen my affection.
  10. 14 Amazing Psychology Facts Everyone Needs to Know
    Cool stuff!  I was especially intrigued by this one:  “Your decisions are more rational when thought in another language.”