Monday, 23 April 2018

Shakespeare's Sonnets.

Today is the 402nd anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare (as well as being St. George's Day of course) and what better way to mark the occasion than to read his Sonnets, which I did this morning. 

The Sonnets were first published in 1609 and consist of 154 sonnets or poems, each of them fourteen lines in iambic pentameter with the exception of Sonnets 99, 126, and 145. Here's sonnet 1:
From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding:
   Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
   To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.
In this Shakespeare covers some of life's timeless themes: procreation, mortality (or rather immortality), the passage of time, and the need to be remembered. In these first sonnets (Sonnets 1 - 126), Shakespeare addresses a young man and in doing so explores these themes further as well as love, be it romantic or platonic. One of the most famous ones of all is the romantic Sonnet 18:
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
   So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
In contrast, Sonnet 130, equally as romantic, does not conjure up such beautiful imagery - 
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red, than her lips red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
   And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,
   As any she belied with false compare. 
These sonnets, Sonnets 127 - 154, are sometimes referred to as the 'Dark Lady' section in which the romantic or platonic love becomes more concerned with the erotic, lusty, even bawdy nature of love. They are appropriately darker in tone and deal with disappointment and frustration, far removed from the beautiful sonnets dedicated to the faithful and virginal, seen not just in the earlier sonnets of Shakespeare but in other Elizabethan poets. 

Love and lust are not the only themes, however, as the first sonnet describes. The idea of beauty is essential to the sonnets, the transience of it, and its relationship with truth. One of my favourites, Sonnet 35, however, is on mistakes -
No more be grieved atthat which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud:
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are;
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense,
Thy adverse party is thy advocate,
And 'gainst myself a lawful plea commence:
Such civil war is in my love and hate,
   That I an accessary needs must be,
   To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.
The mistake that was made is unclear, but it would seem possible that it follows on from Sonnets 33 and 34: the poet was rejected by the 'fair youth' (the sonnets continue from one another, however much they appear to stand alone). Here's the preceding sonnet, Sonnet 34:
Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o'ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
'Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak,
That heals the wound, and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief;
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss:
The offender's sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence's cross.
   Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
   And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.
All of these are very beautiful indeed, and this includes some of Shakespeare's finest works. It's incredibly difficult to say something coherent about them and they do need a bit more study on my part to truly appreciate them. Nevertheless I loved reading them and will without a doubt return to them again one day. By reading and writing about the Sonnets I've also now finished re-reading and blogging about Shakespeare's complete works, which is exciting and appropriate on this day! Sonnets are a firm favourite of course, along with Shakespeare's histories. And, no doubt, I'll be re-reading them one day too!

To finish, here's the illustrations to the 1899 edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets by Henry Ospovat:



Sunday, 22 April 2018

I have been.

I saw this at Allie's and thought it looked fun...

I have been:

{writing}

Little more than shopping lists, I'm afraid! I do have a few posts planned for next week, but this weekend I've mainly been occupied with changing the template of my blog (and I do hope you like it!).

{reading}

The Letters of Virginia Woolf: The Question of Things Happening (1912 - 1922). I've also started Work by Émile Zola (the edition I'm reading is an utter abomination; more on that in my review when I finish) and I'm almost finished The Provincial Lady in Wartime by E. M. Delafield. Also on the go: Dog Training Revolution by Zak George.

{listening}

Outside the birds are certainly more vocal and the dawn chorus is once again in full vigour. The hens, meanwhile, are quietly digging and the budgies are chirping. Meanwhile, Blur's End of a Century is playing low.

{watching} 

I've finally seen an episode of the Gilmore Girls! I know some of you love it, so when I saw it was being shown from the beginning on Comedy Central I recorded it. I'm only up to the fifth episode of the first series but I am enjoying it. Other than that, Downton Abbey.

Sparrows enjoying a bath. Taken about 5 years ago.
{looking}

I've been looking through old pictures recently: I had been looking for a specific picture and went through some files for it, and it was very nice to remember some old times.

{learning}

Today is Pablo's fifth week birthday so I've been learning all about Chihuahuas and puppy training in preparation for his arrival here on 14th May.


{feeling} 

Exceptionally tired. There was quite a thunderstorm here last night: forked lightning right across the forest and shattering thunderclaps - all very impressive, but I'm three-quarters asleep today because of it.

Pablo (taken yesterday).
{anticipating}

The arrival of Pablo!

{wishing}

It was teatime. We're having pasta and black cabbage, and I'm looking forward to chilling with my boyfriend and watching Eggheads. Not long to go, though!

{loving} 

The warmer weather, the fact that the leaves are in bud now, the flowers are popping up, and my chickens are enjoying sunbathing and sitting on the bench again instead of huddled under the coop in front of the heater.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Some Victorian Short Stories.


This week I've been in the mood for short stories: I've read Brother Jacob by George Eliot, Best Ghost Stories by Charles Dickens (which felt like an odd choice of read for spring), and my favourite of the three - Life's Little Ironies by Thomas Hardy.

Brother Jacob, I must admit, was my least favourite of the reads: I fell out of love with George Eliot for a while having first read what I think are her best - Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, and Adam Bede, then being left with what I think are her deadliest - Felix Holt, the Radical and Daniel Deronda (I still have Romola left and I've no idea if or when I'll get to it). Plus she was very rude about Anthony Trollope and that didn't improve matters, so all in all I was left feeling rather disillusioned and Brother Jacob didn't help. It was first published in 1864 and tells the story of David Faux who decides to become a confectioner believing it will make him prosper both socially and financially. When it doesn't, however, he decides instead to head to the West Indies, and steals from his mother to raise the funds. His brother Jacob is aware but keeps silent (he is portrayed as rather slow-witted) and David Faux escapes. Years later a new confectioner opens in town, the owner being Edward Freely, who is none other than David Faux. He is successful and likely to make a good match by marrying the local squire's daughter, however Jacob reveals all and that is that. It really just left me cold.

Life's Little Ironies by Thomas Hardy, first published in 1894, is as bleak if not bleaker than Brother Jacob, but it is infinitely more engaging and, dare I say, far more well-written. There are eight stories:
  1. An Imaginative Woman (1893).
  2. The Son's Veto (1891).
  3. For Conscience' Sake (1891).
  4. A Tragedy of Two Ambitions (1888).
  5. On the Western Circuit (1891).
  6. To Please his Wife (1891).
  7. The Fiddler of the Reels (1893).
  8. A Few Crusted Characters (1891).
The last one, A Few Crusted Characters, is divided into the following ten sections,
  1. Introduction
  2. Tony Kytes, the Arch-Deceiver
  3. The History of the Hardcomes
  4. The Superstitious Man's Story
  5. Andrey Satchel and the Parson and Clerk
  6. Old Andrey's Experience as a Musician
  7. Absent-Mindedness in a Parish Choir
  8. The Winters and the Palmleys
  9. Incident in the Life of Mr. George Crookhill
  10. Netty Sargent's Copyhold,
and it is a frame story in which passengers on a coach tells each other tales of Wessex people they've encountered.

Of the eight main stories, my favourites, and the most striking I believe, are An Imaginative Woman and To Please his Wife. In An Imaginative Woman we meet Mr. and Mrs. Marchmill who are staying in Solentsea (based on Southsea, Portsmouth). We learn Mrs. Marchmill is a poet, and she is fascinated by Robert Trewe, another poet who she regards as her superior. When she learns that the rooms they are renting are also rented by Robert Trewe who is currently away, she becomes obsessed. Too late, she learns her feelings for him, a man she's never met, are astonishingly reciprocated, which leads to their tragedy. Similarly, To Please his Wife is also a tale of obsession. A sailor wishes to marry Joanna Phippard, however changes his mind in favour of Emily Hanning. Joanna, however, won't release him so, true to his word, he marries Joanna and tries his best to make a success of it. However as Emily, who marries someone else, rises through the social ranks and becomes increasingly more successful in life, Joanna and her husband fall further down. Joanna is well aware that her husband wanted to marry Emily, which makes her very competitive and eager for the success she sees as rightly hers. Unsurprisingly given the tone of this collection, she ends up driving her husband to his death. This is the major themes of the collection: disappointment, tragedy, and as the title suggests, irony, and it is well in keeping with the tone of Hardy's later novels. But it is done very well, so well I admire the stories greatly and enjoyed them, however miserable they left me!

The final collection of stories I read this week was Best Ghost Stories by Charles Dickens, published by Wordsworth in 1997 and including the ghost stories of Charles Dickens from throughout his career. It contains,
  1. The Queer Chair (from Chapter 14 of The Pickwick Papers, 1837).
  2. A Madman's Manuscript (from Chapter 11 of The Pickwick Papers, 1837).
  3. The Goblins who Stole a Sexton (from Chapter 29 of The Pickwick Papers, 1837).
  4. The Ghosts of the Mail (from Chapter 49 of The Pickwick Papers, 1837).
  5. The Baron of Grogzwig (from Chapter 6 of Nicholas Nickleby, 1839).
  6. A Christmas Carol (1843).
  7. The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain (1848).
  8. To be Read as Dusk (1852).
  9. The Ghost in the Bride's Chamber (from The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices, 1857).
  10. The Haunted House (1859).
  11. The Trial for Murder (1865).
  12. The Signal Man (1866).
Many of these were published at Christmas time, which, as Dickens wrote numerous times, was a time for looking back and remembering those who are no longer with us, past Christmases, happier times or sadder times, and because the past permeates the festive season, it makes it a perfect time for ghost stories. All of these I have read before, and I have already blogged in more detail about my particular favourites (A Christmas Carol being the ultimate), the others, though I enjoyed them, weren't quite as memorable as one would have hoped. Still, I loved re-reading these, though as I've said it was a rather odd time to embark on it! But I do love Dickens and, in May, I'm planning on returning to one of his novels, possibly Nicholas Nickleby, which The Baron of Grogzwig put me in the mood for.

So, all in all, it was a good reading week though it felt somewhat disjointed reading short stories here and there instead of settling into a novel. The best of all was Hardy - I haven't read him all this year and I forgot how much I loved him. I think it may be time to bring back my Hardy's complete works challenge!

Thursday, 19 April 2018

On Facial Treatment for Ladies by Ovid.

Woman with wax tablets and stylus, so-called "Sappho".
(Donna con tavolette cerate e stilo, cosiddetta "Saffo").


On Facial Treatment for Ladies (Medicamina Faciei Femineae) is a short poem by Ovid on female beauty treatments. The date of it is uncertain, but it was mentioned in Ovid's Ars Amatoria, which is dated around 2 A.D.

It begins,
Girls, learn from me what treatment will embellish
Your complexions, how beauty is best preserved/
Cultivation forced barren soil to yield rich ceral
Harvests, killed off the sharp
Encroaching briars; cultivation breeds out the bitter
Flavour of fruit, the grafted stock adopts
Alien bounty. What's cultivated delights: a lofty building
Is sheathed in gold leaf, black earth
Lies under marble, fleeces are dipped and redipped in cauldrons
Of Tyian dye, while Indian ivory's carved
Into exquisite objects d'art
He further defends the use of cosmetics and accessories and urges women not to trust witchcraft, spells, and potions, declaring it all nonsense, and the importance of remembering "proper behaviour" throughout it all which will last, unlike beauty, until death.

The poem, which hasn't survived in its entirety, concludes with some practical measures women can take:
Let me show you how, when you first wake in the morning,
Your face can be bright and fresh.
Take imported Libyan barley, strip off its outer
Husk and chaff, measure two
Pounds of stripped grain, and add an equal measure
Of vetch steeped in ten raw eggs.
Let this mixture dry in the air, then have your donkey grind it
Slowly, taking the rough quern round; prepare
Two ounces of powdered hartshorn, taken from a vigorous
Stag's first fallen antlers; stir this well
Into the powdery meal, then sift the mixture,
At once, through fine-meshed sieves.
Take twelve narcissus-bulbs, skin them and pound them
(Use a marble block); add them in,
With two ounces each of gum and Tuscan spelt-seed,
And a pound and a half of honey. Any girl
Who uses a face-pack according to this prescription
Will shine brighter than her own
Mirror.
After this recipe he gives a few more, and the poem abruptly ends.

This is such an interesting poem, and so odd - it's like reading a 1st Century edition of Cosmopolitan! As ever, it's good to read about women in these ancient works, and though it may be all about pleasing men there's a glimpse into the daily life of women in their beauty regimes (it would have been all the more insightful to read a woman's perspective). Whatever the case it's invaluable, fun, and quite bizarre to compare 1st Century beauty routines with 21st Century beauty regimes (and, given some of the magazines I've read, though different they could be equally as complex!).

And that was my 16th title for the Deal Me In Challenge. Next week: Tales from the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin by Alexander Pushkin.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Epic of Gilgamesh.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest book I've ever read. By far. It was composed around 2,100 B.C., 1,300 years or so before Homer's Iliad; about 4,117 ago from 2018 in fact. That alone is pretty mind-blowing stuff. There's suggestions it may have been composed in what is now modern day Iraq on the premise that a copy of the epic was found in the ruins of the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, the capital of Assyria being Aššur in Iraq, and the oldest surviving tablets are from Babylonian from the central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). After being lost it was then discovered by Hormuzd Rassam in 1853 and translated into English in the 1870s by George Smith. It remains incomplete. 

It tells the story of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk (now Ahwar, in southern Iraq). He is said to be two-thirds god, one third man - 
When the gods created Gilgamesh they gave him a perfect body. Shamash the glorious sun endowed him with beauty, Adad the god of the storm endowed him with courage, the great gods made his beauty perfect, surpassing all others, terrifying like a great wild bull. Two thirds they made him god and one third man.
He is a tyrant intent on oppression his people despite some of his great achievements, particularly architectural. The people cry out for one who can match him, and so the gods created Enkidu, a wild man, to prevent Gilgamesh from hurting his people further. Enkidu and Gilgamesh become great friends, travelling about together encountering gods and demons, and Enkidu exercising a good influence on his friend. They're soon met with trouble however and the gods punish them by killing Enkidu. Gilgamesh is bereft, and terrified of dying himself, so he goes alone to discover immortality. We see in this many Biblical themes: the Garden of Eden, for example, in the creation of Enkidu and Noah's Flood towards the end of the work. It is a fascinating account for that alone.

I love this book very much. Firstly, most superficially I suppose, for its age: that it survived for over four thousand years is incredible. What is also quite beautiful about it is it's timelessness. The names of the gods, the setting of Mesopotamia, is to me completely unfamiliar, but the themes of friendship and the fear of death carried on these four thousand years throughout history to now throughout cultures. That friendship and love is an all important force on personality, and can change one's path through life, and that that has been said since the dawn of literature is a great and beautiful message. As in the Ancient Greek works we also see the danger of the gods who are not necessarily a force for good: they are simply a force, and one must deal somehow with what they thrown - this is another timeless theme that manifests itself in a variety of ways still today. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a wonderful and important work, I enjoyed it, and somehow I felt more centred having read it.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Whole Duty of a Woman by Edmund Gosse.

Edmund Gosse by John Singer Sargent (1886).
The Whole Duty of a Woman is an essay by Edmund Gosse first published in The Realm in 1895. The title reflects an old Protestant work, The Whole Duty of Man, published in 1658 (and mentioned in The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy), which itself comes from Ecclesiastes 12:13 - "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man".

It begins,
It is universally conceded that our great-grandmothers were women of the most precise life and austere manners. The girls nowadays display a shocking freedom; but they were partly led into it by the relative laxity of their mothers, who, in their turn, gave great anxiety to a still earlier generation. To hear all the "Ahs" and the "Well, I nevers" of the middle-aged, one would fancy that propriety of conduct was a thing of the past, and that never had there been a "gaggle of girls" (the phrase belongs to Dame Juliana Berners) so wanton and rebellious as the race of 1895. Still, there must be a fallacy somewhere. If each generation is decidedly wilder, more independent, more revolting, and more insolent than the one before, how exceedingly good people must have been four or five generations ago! 
Gosse goes on to consider women from earlier ages, referring to The Ladies Calling, a play by the same author as The Whole Duty of Man, and wonders "How did the great-grandmothers of our great-grandmothers behave? When we come to think of it, how little we know about them!" He then refers to other plays, such as The Provok'd Wife (Vanbrugh, 1697), and suggests that perhaps these 1895 "revolting girls" aren't quite in such a revolt as one might have thought in the grand scheme of things. He continues,
The revolting daughters of to-day do not curse and swear; at all events, they do not swear in print, where only we have met the shrews. On the other hand, they smoke, a contingency which does not seem to have occurred to the author of The Ladies' Calling, who nowhere warns the sisterhood against tobacco. The gravity of his indictment of excess in wine, not less than the evidence of such observers as Pepys, proves to us that drunkenness was by no means rare even among women of quality.
A common thread in all of this, Gosse wryly notes, is men's perception of women, and their eternal fear that women simply are not behaving properly. He concludes,
On the whole, it is amusing to find that the same faults and the same dangers which occupy our satirists to-day were pronounced imminent for women two hundred years ago. The ladies of Charles II's reign were a little coarser, a little primmer, a good deal more ignorant than those of our age. Their manners were on great occasions much better, and on small occasions much worse, than those of their descendants of 1895; but the same human nature prevailed. The author of The Ladies' Calling considered that the greatest danger of his congregation lay in the fact that "the female Sex is eminent for its pungency in the sensible passion of love"; and, although we take other modes of saying it, that is true now.
It's a great little essay and very interesting, if not at times amusing, to consider men's constant concern with the behaviour, the manners, and indeed the duty of womankind. It's also very interesting to see men of the late Victorian age wonder about the role of women in previous years. I'm glad to have read this. It's very short (an excellent diversion) and can be found in full here.

And that was my 15th title for the Deal Me In Challenge. Next week - On Facial Treatments for the Ladies by Ovid.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

The Fragments of Moschus and Bion of Smyrna.

A Pastoral by John Reinhard Weguelin (1905).

Last week I read Greek Pastoral Poetry published by Penguin (1974) which included The Poems and Fragments of Bion of Smyrna and The Poems of Moschus (as well as The Idylls and The Epigrams by Theocritus).

Bion of Smyrna (Βίων ὁ Σμυρναῖος) was a poet born in Smyrna in Turkey (now İzmir) towards the end of Greek rule established by Alexander the Great in 340 B.C. Not much is known about Bion other than he appeared to be at his most prolific around 100 B.C. There are some seventeen fragments that remain by Bion, the longer ones being hiss Lament for Adonis, Myrson and Lycidas, and Cleodamus and Myrson, the rest being short verses and, in some cases, just a few lines.

The Lament for Adonis begins,
I weep for Adonis, cry 'Fair Adonis is dead';
'Fair Adonis is dead,' the Loves echo my grief.
Sleep no more, Cypris, shrouded in purple,
awake to this grief, and put on mourning,
beat your breast and tell all mankind:
'Fair Adonis is dead.'
He goes on to describe the death and the sadness of Aphrodite (referred to as both Cypris and Cytherea) and writes with great despair and sadness; it's a very moving piece. The next poem, Myrson and Lycidas is incomplete - it begins with Myrson asking Lycidas to sing him a song about Achilles at Scyros. He agrees, but all we have of the text is this:
One day long ago, a black day for Oenone,
the herdsman snatched Helen and took her to Ida.
The whole of Achaea was summoned to arms:
not a man of Mycenae, or Elis or Sparta
would hide in his home from the dread call of war.
There was one, one alive, stowed away among women -
Achilles, who learnt how to spin, not to fight,
how to practice the arts of Lycomedes' girls,
how to live like a woman. He became quite a she.
In his dress, in his looks he was every inch female;
he rouged his white cheeks till they blushed dark as flowers,
he walked like a girl, wore his hair in a bow.
Yet his heart was a man's; he bore male desires;
and each day he would sit besides Deidameia
from dawn until dusk. He would kiss her white hand;
he would hold up her weaving and praise its rare grace;
at meals he would choose no companion but her.
Every move was a step on the path to her bed.
'All the others,' he'd say, 'sleep together like sisters,
but still you and I, virgins both, go each our own way.
We are friends, we are women, we share our good looks,
yet we sleep quite alone, each in separate beds.
It is cruel Nysa's plotting that keeps us apart...
Following this, the third longest poem of the collection - Cleodamus and Myrson, in which Cleodamus asks Myrson which his favourite season is, to which Myrson replies (and this is now my favourite quote on spring),
I'll tell you, Cleodamus. It isn't summer,
when I'm always burnt by the heat of the sun,
nor it is autumn, the time of disease.
I can't stand winter - all that frost and snow.
No, give me the springtime all year round,
free from excess of heat or of cold.
In spring all is love-making, everything blossoms,
the nights are as long and as fresh as the days...
The following fragments are very short, just tantalising echoes from over two millenniums ago. Two of my favourites are IX and XV:
IX 
Evening star, golden light of Aphrodite,
dear Hesperus, sacred crown of blue night,
as fainter than the moon, so brighter than all the stars;
tonight, friend, you must light my way
as I go to serenade my shepherd love -
you, not the moon, who was new last night
and will dim too soon. It's not for robbery
or highway hold-ups I ask you
to light my path tonight: but for love.
And the course of true love is most worthy of light.
XV 
Enough little drops of water, they say.
can dig a channel in a stone.
After reading Bion of Smyrna, I went on to read another minor Greek pastoral poet: Moschus, who was born in Syracuse and preceded Bion by some 50 years. There are only seven surviving poems, some just a single verse, including The Lament for Bion (which is now known to have been written by someone else), The Fugitive Love, and my favourite - Europa. It begins,
Europa once dreamed a true dream, sent by Cypris.
It was almost dawn, the night three parts gone,
when relaxing sleep steals down, honey-sweet,
to rest on our lids, gently seal up our eyes,
the hour when true dreams are all shephered forth...
And Moschus continues, describing in this poem the abduction of Europa by Zeus from Tyre to Crete.

What I loved about these poems was that one can see the influence on another one of my favourite works, Ovid's Metamorphoses. Bion, in my mind, shone, and I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the myth of Europa in Moschus. It's funny how one can miss a book and the experience of reading it, and it was good to be reminded of Ovid and enjoy these two new-to-me poets, Bion and Moschus. Would that more of their works had have survived...

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