alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
[personal profile] alexxkay
Not long ago, [livejournal.com profile] kestrell scanned a book of ancient greek poetry (_Seven Greeks_ translated by Guy Davenport). I had to do some serious proofing help on that, because most of it consists of stuff that only exists now as fragments, and the OCR program tended to make poor choices about what piece went where. So I ended up reading the book, in some depth, myself. Kes has already shared excerpts from two of her favorites: Archilochos, the warrior-poet, and Diogenes, philosopher, curmudgeon, and professional beggar.

My favorite was a playwright named Herondas from 3rd century BC. He wrote little 10-minute-long satirical skits for a single performer playing multiple roles (presumably using props and accents). And if you modernized the names, these could have been written yesterday.

There's one making fun of pretentious people trying to outdo each other in art appreciation. There's one with a mother asking a schoolmaster to discipline her no-good son. There's one with a small businessman acting as his own lawyer in court, far less impressively than he thinks. There's one about an older woman trying to convince a young married woman to have an affair since her husband is away on business.

There's even one about women spending all day in the shoe store, trying things on, but not actually buying anything! I never suspected that *that* trope went back over two millenia!

My favorite bit, though, might be considered NSFW, so have a cut:

It's called A Visit Between Friends. It starts with some fairly standard "yelling at lazy servants" business, but once that's out of the way...

(paraphrased from memory; not the original names)
Alice: So, the reason I came over... I just *had* to ask, *where* did you get that fabulous new dildo? The red leather one with the beautiful stitching?

Mary: ...how did you even *know* I had a new dildo?

Alice: Oh, Nancy showed it to me.

Mary: Nancy?! How did *Nancy* get hold of it?

Alice: ...Promise not to tell? I wouldn't want to get anyone in trouble...

Mary: OK.

Alice: She got it from Brenda.

Mary: Brenda! I only loaned it to Brenda in the first place because Brenda said she was desperate! I haven't even used it *myself* yet! And she goes and loans it to Mary, without even a by-your-leave... I tell you, Brenda is no true friend!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-15 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gyzki.livejournal.com
Herodas' mime about the dildo showed up about halfway through a very serious and scholarly history of the Hellenistic age I was reading. Perked me right up when I needed it, lemme tell you. Shipley says that Nossis, daughter of Erinna, ("Nancy" in your translation) was a known poet of the time.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-15 02:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ookpik.livejournal.com
What fun! Thank you. (Were you at the recent local production of "Lysistrata"? I'd read it in high school but forgotten quite how contemporary some of it felt; seeing the production reminded me.)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-20 03:28 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Macro photo of left eye of my mostly black border collie mutt (loved it all)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
This is all news to me, and it's so relaxing and rewarding to know that dildo borrowing chains were a vital topic Way Back Then.

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Alexx Kay

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