The Feanoriad

An excellent retelling of the tale of Feanor, from the Silmarillion, in the style of the Iliad.

The Cottage Of Pen And Play

(A Homeric retelling of The Fall of the Noldor)

Sing, O Nienna, of the wrath of Finwe’s son
Feanor, the deadly wrath that brought upon the
Noldor countless woes and sent many fair princes
of the Eldalie down to the Halls of Mandos from
that day when first far-seeing Manwe and mighty
Feanor parted in strife.

View original post 2,218 more words

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On St George and his day

Lugubelinus

The last time I gave much thought to St George, I think, was in Afghanistan. I was researching Bamiyan, and visited a valley, Darre-ye Azhdaha, a few miles to the west of Bamiyan town. At its mouth there is now a housing development for refugees returned from Iran; but if you follow the narrow, steep-sided valley further up, it’s blocked by a high volcanic ridge associated with some interesting folklore.

According to tradition, the ridge is a dragon (azhdaha) slain by Hazrat-e Ali, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet, and a figure of special importance to the predominantly Shi’i population of Bamiyan. A crevice running along the top of the ridge was made by the sweep of Ali’s sword, reddish mineral deposits around it are the dragon’s blood, the sound of subterranean water the dying creature’s groans, and the milky mineral waters that flow out from the end of…

View original post 1,181 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Beren and Lúthien, a centenary publication

John Garth

In a wood filled with a cloud of white flowers, a soldier walked in the spring of 1917 with his wife, and she sang and danced for him. To that battle-worn lieutenant, J R R Tolkien, Edith’s dance was an unforgettable glimpse of unearthly joy in the midst of sorrow and horror. It inspired the story he saw as the ‘kernel’ of his mythology. A century on, in 2017 the love story of Beren and Lúthien will finally appear as a book in its own right.

beren-and-luthien-coverPotentially a landmark among Tolkien’s many posthumous publications, it will appear in May from HarperCollins in the UK and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the US with a cover and illustrations by Alan Lee. I am astonished and delighted, not least because its editor, Christopher Tolkien, is now approaching his 92nd birthday.

J R R Tolkien’s experiences and development as a writer in 1914–18 are traced in detail…

View original post 1,535 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Beren and Lúthien

Too Many Books and Never Enough

Beren and Luthien coverHarperCollins will announce today the latest Tolkien title edited by Christopher Tolkien, Beren and Lúthien, to be illustrated with drawings and paintings by Alan Lee and published on 4 May 2017. An American edition will be published simultaneously by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. As we write this on the 18th, Amazon UK list only a Kindle edition. Price and physical details have not been announced, but the upper dust-jacket is pictured at left; nor is there word yet of a deluxe edition.

To quote HarperCollins’ press release (thanks to David Brawn at HarperCollins for sending this and the cover art), Christopher Tolkien ‘has attemped to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the…

View original post 147 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When the spade you call a spade’s no spade

Lugubelinus

http://people.virginia.edu/~jdk3t/ErasmusHolbein.jpg

My least snappy title by a distance. Apologies, and apologies also for a blog inspired by a pun so obscure that I’ve seen it attributed to two Oxford Classicists separately. Actually it was really inspired by Claire Webster, to whom thanks.

“To call a spado a spado” is a joke that Claire heard Tom Braun, a Classicist at Merton College, make, but I can claim an earlier outing. A former student of my college, Brasenose, recalls attending lectures in the 1950’s on the Roman satirist Juvenal, delivered by J.G. Griffith of Jesus College. Juvenal does not pull his punches, and Griffith, clearly a don of the old school, “felt inhibited” discussing his poetry “when lady students were present.” When the last of the women undergraduates eventually left the group, he remarked with relief, “At last: now I can call a spado a spado.”

Not a very edifying scene…

View original post 1,293 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Two Ears, One Mouth”: Hunting a Proverb from Zeno to Paul’s Mom

SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

On using twitter and the internet to trace the history of a cherished proverb; or, on the birth of a t-shirt.

Last fall, I noticed the Paul Holdengraber‘s 7-word autobiography from brainpickings.org.: “Mother always said: Two Ears, One mouth.” The phrase bounced around in my head a bit–it has that aphoristic perfection of brevity and familiarity. So, I reached out to Paul over twitter and told him it sounded like something from a Greek philosopher like Heraclitus.

Proverbs have a special place in language and society cross-culturally–they strike a promise of insight that demands  contemplation or explanation. They also have an air of authority and antiquity, even when they actually possess neither. And, unlike longer, less anonymized forms of language, they are repeated, borrowed, and stolen without end.

My late father was a great aphorist–perhaps missing him is part of why Paul’s tweet stuck with me. Most of…

View original post 1,785 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The long road behind (personal story)

alexioskomnenos

(If you’re going to read this, please read the whole thing before drawing your conclusions, some passages in this will make you angry, I accept and understand that, but context matters. Please note that I’m not my old self anymore, my old self is dead. )

I have a swallow (you know, the bird.) tattooed on my arm, this is an excellent conversation-starter these days, a lot of people have a tattoo, or multiple, and everyone likes talking about them, their meaning, and all things surrounding them.

Usually, the question is soon asked: “So, do you have any more tattoos?”. 4/5 years ago, I would’ve said: “Yeah!” and would’ve shown them, but these days, I’m too ashamed. (And not because I’ve put on a lot of weight and am ashamed of my body.).
I just say: “No, but I plan on getting more.”.

The reason for this is simple, I…

View original post 1,567 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment