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Web-based Resources

Since we continued past our usual time, I will attempt to post the conclusion of the discussion here later this week as the next audio podcast. In the meantime, here are a few links of interest I hope you enjoy.

Today I mentioned Oxford classicist Oliver Taplin, and his work on the issue of the classical dramas in performance. Here is a link to the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama at Oxford, which Taplin established.

For free electronic versions of classic texts in the public domain which can be read online, downloaded, or printed, search Project Gutenberg. Here is their online version of Kalidasa's Sakuntala. Another good source is The Internet Classics Archive at MIT. Here is a link to their version of Helen. The translations can be quite varied in quality, but do provide access to the work.

You might also compare an online version of the Letters of Abelard and Heloise.

Helen & the 5 Big Questions

Peter considers 5 answers proposed by Euripides drama.

Brilliant Minds Podcast #2

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Over the Summer during the first of our August Classes, I introduced the idea that every Great Book asks and answers all of the following 5 Big Questions of life. Those 5 Big Questions are:
1. Who am I?
2. Why am I here?
3. What kind of a world is this?
4. What is my place in it?
5. What do I do about it?
We can apply this to Helen by Euripides, and consider these possible answers:
1. Who am I? I am a mortal with limited knowledge, subject to fate and the gods.
2. Why am I here? I am fighting to survive and to preserve my honor, my reputation, and to gain glory. I am here to be recognized.
3. What kind of a world is this? It is a world of unreliable appearances, full of deceit and injustice, but it is also a world of free will, possibilities, and opportunity.
4. What is my place in it? My place depends entirely on my relationships with others, whether they are gods, society, or family. I am responsible for my actions.
5. What do I do about it? I am to respect the gods and to use all my physical & mental resources to achieve my goals through strategic thought, speech, & action.
How would you answer these questions, based on your reading of the play?


The Human Problem in "Helen"

The one (long) sentence version, formulating the central human problem in Euripides' "Helen":

We must rely on unreliable appearances, knowing there is a fixed truth (fate), & knowing there are active agents (gods) manipulating circumstances, & needing to act anyway, influenced by our own desires and goals.

On the "real" Helen

As we're preparing to read Euripides' Helen, consider this. Classical historian Bettany Hughes does a wonderful job of providing a view of Helen in both a book and a DVD. Her previous work on the Spartans was also outstanding. Links via Amazon, below: