Tag Archives: Odyssey

Calvino on Reading the Classics

In a famous essay, Calvino gives us multiple reasons to read the classics.

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Teach Game Theory through Greek Myths

Friday The other day I stumbled across an American Economist article, written up in JSTOR Daily, arguing that teachers who want their students to retain the fundamentals of game theory should turn to Greek myths. Economist James D. Miller and classicist Debbie Felton explain their reasoning as follows: For professional economists, game theory is about […]

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We Need Barr to Be a Homeric Hero

Monday Asked last week about damaging his legacy on behalf of Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr invoked Homer. “Everyone dies,” he said, “and I am not, you know, I don’t believe in the Homeric idea that you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries, you know?” In […]

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Will Odysseus Shape 2020 Election?

Monday I won’t take credit for this but Washington Post’s Molly Roberts recently penned a very Better-Living-with Beowulf type column where she contrasted two Democratic presidential candidates by examining which version of the Odysseus/Ulysses story they prefer. Her piece gives me an excuse to apply other versions of the story to various 2020 contenders. Roberts […]

Posted in Homer, Joyce (James), Sophocles, Tennyson (Alfred Lord), Virgil | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Roots of a Beautiful Marriage

Spiritual Sunday Every time I visit Slovenia (six times now, the first two for year-long Fulbrights), I learn something new. In my most recent visit, I discovered it is common for couples to live together for years before getting married (if they ever do). While I can’t speak to overall statistics, I talked with several […]

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The GOP & Trump’s Siren Call

Tuesday The other day I detected one of Atlantic’s excellent columnists misusing a classical analogy. I flag Ed Kilgore, not to show off, but because the analogy is indeed enlightening if used correctly. See if you can find the mistake: This would suggest that the occasional efforts by individual Republican congressmen to show some distance from […]

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Returning to the Misty Past

John Gatta’s “Spirits of Place” is helping me understand why I have chosen to retire in my home town. Wordsworth, Stowe, Homer, and Frost help out as well.

Posted in Herbert (George), Homer, Robinson (Marilynne), Stowe (Harriet Beecher), Wordsworth (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bob Dylan, Gifted Storyteller

Bob Dylan, in his Nobel Acceptance Speech, made it clear that literary influences are as big in his song writing as musical influences.

Posted in Dylan (Bob), Homer, Melville (Herman), Remarque (Erich Maria) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fantasy, a Portal to the Numinous

People are often drawn to fantasy in our post-Enlightenment world because they hunger for the numinous.

Posted in Homer, Pullman (Philip), Sharp (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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