Tag Archives: Sophocles

Why Trump Is Not a Tragic Hero

Wednesday The strangest development in the Trump Ukraine scandal may be the way that Trump himself has given us the smoking gun—which is to say, the rough transcript of a phone call where he tries to shake down the Ukrainian president for dirt on the 2020 political opponent he most fears. Jon Meacham attributes Trump’s […]

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Cataract Surgery: See Better, Lear

Thursday I am undergoing a second cataract surgery today and so am reposting the essay I wrote following my first (successful) surgery. I don’t expect to re-experience the same mixed feelings that I described two years ago, but dramas that feature sharp objects poked into people’s eyes still seem relevant. This essay is not for […]

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Through Lit, We Learn Compassion

Tuesday My brother Sam, an enthusiastic Unitarian Universalist, gave me Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life for Christmas, and I was pleased that the author sees literature playing a major role. In today’s post I share how she draws on the ancient Greeks. Armstrong writes, “All faiths insist that compassion is the test […]

Posted in Aeschylus, Euripides, Homer, Sophocles, Wordsworth (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

France vs. the Little Engine That Could

Which World Cup story do we root for? The little engine that could or redemption after humiliation?

Posted in Piper (Watty), Rice (Grantland) | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Stories We Tell Our Robots

My sons have a podcast–“The Stories We Tell Our Robots”–which links literature with such developments as bitcoin, chatbots, airline pricing, and the like. Their rating system ranges from utopia to apocalypse.

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Act in All Things as Love Will Prompt

My lectures on Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin, Shakespeare and Sophocles all seem to track back to Lent these days.

Posted in Baldwin (James), O'Connor (Flannery), Shakespeare (William), Sophocles | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Dinner with Mladen

An account of a dinner with an old Slovenian friend and intellectual.

Posted in Beckett (Samuel), Marivaux (Pierre de), Plato, Shakespeare (William), Sophocles | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anger in Ancient Greek Works

A new book looks at how the ancient Greeks approached the issue of anger in works such as “Iliad,” “Ajax,” and “Hecuba.

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Euripides, Homer, Sophocles | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lit Comforts an ALS Sufferer

This past March an ALS sufferer spoke eloquently, shortly before her death, about how she turned to Sophocles, Kafka, and Shakespeare for comfort.

Posted in Kafka (Franz), Shakespeare (William), Sophocles | 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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