Shear Greek

The re-start of school and all the fresh promise of a new year have me hankering to get back to my intellectual improvement through reading the classics. I picked up Plutarch’s Lives this afternoon (current month’s reading in my Great Books group) and dug into the life of Theseus. He was the mythical founder of Athens and probably is best known for slaying the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull creature, in the labyrinth on Crete.

I found this passage amusing:

There being then a custom for the Grecian youth, upon their first coming to man’s estate, to go to Delphi and offer first-fruits of their hair to the god, Theseus also went thither… He clipped only the fore part of his head… And this sort of tonsure was from him named Theseus.

From this, I instantly pictured Theseus cutting all of his hair short, except in the back. This means he had the Bronze Age equivalent of a mullet. Better yet, he was the inventor of the mullet. Other guys who sported his look wore “The Theseus”, sort of like “The Clooney” that went around a few years back. I imagine Theseus hanging out in front of his house (with all those torches still lit up from the Festival of Haloa, which ended way back on December 26th, thank you very much) one foot up on his dually chariot as he downs a forty-ounce jar of mead.

Perhaps he looked like this as he took on the Minotaur:

I’m constantly amusing myself this way as I read, which makes for slow reading. I am easily distracted by flights of fancy.

Fortunately, I’m not distracted by Dryden’s 17th century translation from Greek to English. It’s sort of lyrical, it’s free on-line since it’s been in the public domain for roughly 300 years, and it makes me feel like I’m doing a little of the legwork of translation since realistically I won’t be learning to read Greek any time soon. If you want to read along, check it out here:

http://classics.mit.edu/Browse/index-Plutarch.html

I’m tired now, so καλή νύχτα. (That’s good night in Greek. I love the internet.)

************

P.S. Special thanks to The Big M for PhotoShop help. Yet another thing on my list of stuff to learn…

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Categories: Brain Workouts

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