Aristophanes's Archanians is his third comedy, and his earliest surviving play that has come down to us from antiquity. It won first prize at the Lenaia in 425BC, under the production of Callistratus, as Aristophanes was a young dramatist at the time. Like The Clouds, The Acharnians begins with a lone soliloquy. A rustic arrives very early … Continue reading Treason in the Acharnians
The origin of the term "Hebrew" remains mysterious; the Biblical term Ivri, meaning "to traverse" or "to pass over", is usually rendered as "Hebrew" in English, and it comes down to us from the ancient Greek Ἑβραῖος and the Latin "Hebraeus". The Biblical word Ivri has the plural form Ivrim, or Ibrim. In addition, the word … Continue reading Where Did The Hebrew Bible Come From?
Zechariah prophesies during the reign of Darius, emperor of Persia (after the Babylon was conquered by Persia). God's word comes unto Zechariah, and God blames the people of Israel's fathers for moral transgressions, and He commands the people of Israel to turn back to Him. Zechariah experiences a series of apocalyptic visions from God, with … Continue reading Eight Visions in Zechariah
Don Quixote (1955) by Pablo Picasso In the ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy, the poets claim to be the true educators of virtue. Their claim is of the superior power of poetry to impel people to do great things, and who can disagree? Where would the Venus de Milo or the Sistine Chapel be … Continue reading When Poetry Conquers Philosophy: Reflections on Don Quixote
The book of Habakkuk is told in three short chapters. Habbakuk's vision is described as a "burden" (per the King James translation) as Habakkuk is a troubled prophet of Israel. All around him he sees destruction and decay. His name likely comes from an early Hebrew word meaning "embrace." Unlike other prophets, Habakkuk has the gaul … Continue reading The Just Shall Live By His Faith: Habakkuk Considered
I recently detoured from reading the Pulitzer Prize winning novels to venture into the harsh but pleasantly forgiving fields of Willa Cather's pioneers on the prairie. When Willa Cather was thirty-nine years old she wrote her first novel, Alexander's Bridge, which was published as a serial in McClure's Magazine in 1912. It was a tragic story … Continue reading The Harsh But Forgiving Prairie in O Pioneers!
The Scroll of Esther is an unusual text for a variety of reasons. First, because the story is an odd burlesque tale of the ancient Israelites in Persia, and it makes no mention of God -one of only two Biblical texts (the other being Song of Solomon). Instead, Haman (the brutal Persian oppressor of the Jews) notes the … Continue reading The Persian Fantasy of Esther
In the pantheon of great American literature, Booth Tarkington stands alone as the most forgettable writer to ever win the Pulitzer not just once, but twice. He is one of three writers to accomplish the feat. At one time, he was one of the most celebrated writers in America. Today, he is wholly forgotten, except … Continue reading The Forgettable Alice Adams
Published in 1917, Ernest Poole's winner of the first ever Pulitzer Prize in 1918, His Family, is a surprisingly delightful read. The book has been largely out of print in recent years, and much like other early winners of the Pulitzer Prize, including Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons, His Family is largely overlooked by modern … Continue reading Thoughts on His Family
While many other Greek tragedies tend to reiterate already established myths and customs, Euripides's Orestes appears to be entirely his own invention. Chronologically, the plot of the play takes place after the events contained in Aeschylus's Libation Bearers. It was first performed in 408 BC, near the close of the Peloponnesian War. In Orestes, Electra recounts the story … Continue reading The Failure of Orestes