Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stefan Stenudd on Plato as lyric poet

"In his youth, Plato trained gymnastics, with such prowess that he entered a public contest. He studied painting and music, but his favourite was poetry. He made attempts in heroic verse, lyric poetry and dramatic composition. He wrote a tetralogy, consisting of three separate tragedies and one satyric drama, but a short time before the festival of Dionysus, when his pieces were to be performed, he happened to hear Socrates, and was so captivated that he abandonded poetry, and turned to philosophy. Reportedly, he threw his poetic writing to the fire.
There are some few fragments remaining of Plato’s lyrical efforts, written well after Socrates made him change his path. Diogenes Laertius mentions a fellow student of astronomy, named Aster, which means ‘star’, something that Plato played with in an affectionate verse to him: 'Thou gazest at the stars, my star; would I were Heaven, that I might gaze at thee with many eyes!' Equally passionate are these words to Agathon, though they may be Plato personating Socrates, like in the dialogues: 'When I kiss Agathon my soul is on my lips, whither it comes, poor thing, hoping to cross over.'
To his mistress Archeanassa, he wrote with a daring reference to the marks of ageing: 'My mistress is Archaenassa of Colophon, on whose very wrinkles there is bitter love.' Ageing is also a central theme, if not an argument, in the words to another lady: 'I am an apple; one that loves you casts me at you. Say yes, Xanthippè; we fade, both you and I.' Similar arguments of seduction are also shown in: 'I cast the apple at you, and if you truly love me, take it and give me of your maidenhood; but if your thoughts be what I pray they are not, then too take it and consider how short-lived is beauty.'" excerpt from online Aristotle bio by Stefan Stenudd

Stefan Stenudd's latest book, *Cosmos of the Ancients: The Greek Philosophers on Myth and Cosmology* was published in 2007 by BookSurge Publishing and is available through

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

les affrèrements

hmm...seems there were same-sex contractual relationships other than religious communities in Europe historically that were considered compatible with family values.

Here's a no-punches-pulled discussion of the story:

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Art and Poetry of War

Just some quick notes and links: Art of War circa 625 B.C. an English translation of his songs
Pye, influenced by Tyrtaeus, rouses the British patriotism Greek Tytaeus Texts (with German translations)

Acharya S.

Acharya S., mythologist and archaeologist, has some interesting things to say in this interview.

What does her 'S.' stand for? Sunbjectivity?

"Subjectivity. Objectivity. What is the difference?" says William Burroughs, the cut-up.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


"Every day, priests minutely examine the Dharma
And endlessly chant complicated sutras.
Before doing that, though, they should learn
How to read the love letters sent by the wind and rain, the snow and moon."

"After ten days on this temple, my mind is spinning --
The red thread of passion is very strong in my loins.
If you wish to locate me another day,
Look in the fish stall, sake shop, or brothel.

-- Ikkyu

new Scetes and new translation of Psalms

"the Californian scete"; I ran across this logos when
checking out a curious news report about a new Coptic Orthodox
monastery in California deserta.
So there you are. Naturally I had to investigate that word scete and
it lead me a merry chase. There is nothing in my ancient greek lexica
that comes close; but in a modern lexicon I found sketos, an adjective
meaning "plain, simple, pure". An Egyptian tour guide said 'scetes'
means "the ascetics". But I didn't hit real paydirt until I got into
Wikipedia through Thebaid and found:

I was pleasured to discover yesterday that there is a New Skete in New
York where the monks translated the Eastern Orthodox psalmody into
American English and made it available online. Their founder's obit
is probably the best introduction:

Their new translation goes back to sources earlier than the Greek Septuagint from which, I believe, all the other available translations of the psalms were made.

Monday, August 20, 2007


So, are pronouns the secret advantage of the glib fast-talkers?

As they speed merrily through their monologues, we listeners must work out the associations with proper nouns, images, geography and such. That's why extended listening can be so exhausting.

C.S. Lewis' phatic hiatus

"The cardinal difficulty," said MacPhee, "in collaboration between the sexes is that women speak a language without nouns. If two men are doing a bit of work, one will say to the other, 'Put this bowl inside the bigger bowl which you'll find on the top shelf of the green cupboard.' The female for this is, 'Put that in the other one in there.' And then if you ask them, 'in where?' they say, 'in there, of course.' There is consequently a phatic hiatus."

*That Hideous Strength* was published in 1945. I reading it more than 50 years ago, uncertain whether abridged or unabridged. I still recall enjoying the creepy thrills phatically generated in the reading.

In the excerpt quoted above C.S. Lewis (CSL) misuses the word 'phatic' which lexicologists ever since 1928 have insisted means communication not of information but only of feeling "revealing shared feelings or establishing an atmosphere of sociability rather than communicating ideas. ...feminine relationship chatter not masculine task instruction...

Sunday, August 12, 2007


The taste of the forbidden Bovril

fading from our minds like blooms

of Summers past recurring in mem'

ries regained like the madeleines in

the eternal teatime of Marcel Proust.

writ Aug 12, 2007 by nekkid