Tell me of the man, Muse, the one of winding ways, driven to
wander widely, after he sacked the sacred citadel of Troy:
Many the peoples whose cities he saw, whose minds he learned;
many the pains he suffered at sea within his heart,
as he fought for own life and the homecoming of his companions.
But not even so did he save them, as hard as he strove:
for due to their very own mad follies did they perish—
fools!—they who ate the cattle of the sun-god Helios,
devoured them, and so, he took away the day of their return.
Sing from any of these moments, goddess, daughter of Zeus—
and speak for us also.
–Odyssey, I.1-10 (my translation)
When we start reading a new book or sit down to watch a movie, we are setting out on a voyage. The winds fill our sails and the waves guide us along. Across the sea, we explore worlds that are familiar yet new and strange. We meet all sorts of characters, alive in their unique ways, and we see ourselves in them. We are touched by the joys and tragedies that they experience. We are riveted by the twists and turns of the story
Eventually, we must put our books down and turn off our TVs to return to our everyday lives. But the journey doesn’t really end, for the ideas of the story and the knowledge we have gained remain alive in us. Stories continue to inspire us, long after they end.
From a young age, I always appreciated the power of stories. As a child, I was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition that limits my physical strength and continues to weaken my muscles. Since I could not run around and play games with the other kids, I found solace in stories. Reading books gave me the ability to explore distant worlds and to go on fantastic adventures with my mind. Bodily limitations didn’t matter.
My quest to understand and appreciate stories continues today. As a student at Santa Clara University, I was exposed to the literature of the ancient Greeks and Romans in my very first class, called Heroes and Heroism. I was fascinated by the power of these stories and amazed at how they could still resonate with us today. With encouragement from my professor, I decided to major in Classical Studies, a field encompassing all aspects of ancient Greek and Roman civilization..
Classics is a broad field that incorporates language, literature, history, culture and philosophy. But my focus was language and literature: I wanted to attain a deeper appreciation for these ancient stories by reading them in their original languages, so I took classes in Greek and Latin. Today, I continue to develop my language skills, and it seems that I am always learning something new about the ancient Greeks and Romans, especially their skill at story-crafting.
The goal of this blog is to discuss the power of words, stories, and literature. I myself love the stories of ancient Greece and Rome, and that will be my emphasis, but coming to a deeper appreciation of stories applies as much to the ancient world as to our modern lives. I hope to share with you what I learn as I set off on this journey to discover great, compelling stories, whether they are found in ancient texts, in film or television, in the records of history, or in modern pop-culture.
Please comment on anything that you find interesting, and I will respond as quickly as possible. Thank you, and I hope that you enjoy the voyage!
Brian recently graduated from Santa Clara University, where he majored in Classical Studies, an inter-disciplinary field of study that incorporates all aspects of ancient Greek and Roman civilization, from language to literature to history to philosophy. His favorite stories are those that come to us from the ancient world. He especially appreciates the epics of Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey.