Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This semester in Classical Lit has been great. I really enjoyed reading the Homeric Hymns, Antigone, and Ovid. And even though I did not enjoy some of the works, Lysistrata I'm looking at you, it didn't mean I could not gather knowledge from them. This class has taught me to look at things more critically and made me a bit more humble because I know that anything I am experiencing or going through has been experienced by many others time and time again. This class has also taught me to critically respond to things I have read which will hopefully help in LIT 300 next semester.

I also learned about the different transformations that people embark on willing or unwillingly and the many transformations I myself may experience. Personally, I think this was one of the best English classes on campus and have recommended it to all my non-English major friends if they ever have to take an English class to take this. The class allowed for personal expression of ideas and in a way our class was its own little Symposium.

I will miss coming to class everyday to hear Dr. Sexson talk about the latest way in which present relates to the past and I will miss the thoughts and theories promoted by my classmates. This has truly been enjoyable and I wish you all good luck on all your future endeavors.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Rituals of the Past and Present

Recently, well yesterday to be exact, I pledged a sorority. If you would like to be technical they call themselves a woman's fraternity but no matter. And though I won't go into detail the experience reminded me of the rituals we have discussed from the past. Words that are said, things that are done, and things that are seen. Really it is the same thing. And so I took comfort in the fact that really we were only performing something that had been done time and time again centuries ago maybe even by Demeter.

Below are some interesting links about Greek Rituals and Traditions. My experience made me want to research them a bit more. this link discusses the various Greek festivals this link discusses burial rituals something we are all familiar with from antigone

and this link discusses Greek religion

Happy reading!

A Ranting

Well I am glad that our presentation is finally over! I think our group did really well and we all worked really hard so I hope you guys enjoyed it. But I must say, I am extremely glad we went first and not second because the second groups was out of this world! Their movie was so funny and so well done, great job relating the past to the present group four, and definitely a memory i will take with me from this class.

I guess we are winding down and I am sorry to go because this has been one of my most enjoyable English classes this semester and I am not looking forward to the ones for next! I also just laughed because as I googled Homer's last line "mentor" the first thing that appeared was Deborah's blog. Maybe I should try to make my blogs a little better just in case someone stumbles upon it!

I guess what I really want to use this blog for is what was said in my Educational Technology class today. You see, a history major was doing a presentation and made the comment, "Greek Myth does not belong in the English classroom it has no literary value, instead it should be taught in History." Now let me just say this about knocked me out of my chair. Not only did I take both Humanities and Mythology in high school I went on to take them again in college along with this class. All of which were in English form.

My first reaction was of me wanting to leap out of my chair and yell, "What are you saying!? Have you not read any Greek Literature? The Homeric Hymns, The Odyssey, The Trojan War, Euripides, Socrates, anything?!" But it is my opinion that would have been the case, it must be. How else could someone say such a thing!? Certainly the Greeks should be studied in both an English and History classroom but one should not deprive the other. The Greeks had so much to teach us, certainly enough to supply two classrooms with material.

So that is my rant of the day. Luckily no one was hurt. I have been looking through my blogs and I hope I have not left anything out, though a few of the homework assignments I have been unable to complete such as the coffee shop because I have classes. But hopefully that can be excused.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Set of Paintings Entitled Death is the Mother of Beauty

Below is a series of paintings that were titled "death is the mother of beauty". I think the paintings are probably just as easy to understand as the quote. If you would like to see the original website it can be viewed here:

Death is the Mother of Beauty This is basically just a blog doing the same thing we are all doing, trying to decipher what the quote "death is the mother of beauty" means. I really enjoyed reading the blog and seeing how others are also struggling to come to a realization of what it means.

I do however, think I will address what I feel the line means. I believe this goes back to without suffering we cannot experience the true happiness having something brings us. We cannot experience life without suffering. If we had nothing to compare beauty to would it not just be something completely and utterly ordinary to us? Certainly so. Again as Dr. Sexson discussed in class death is what makes life beautiful. He gave the example that if we were everlasting we could hold our grudges forever because we would have no worry the person would die before we could tell them how much we loved them. But with death we are given a time limit and everything else around us should seem that much more precious and lovely because we will not see it forever. This website provides other Steven Wallace quotes that I find just as hypnotizing and yes, beautiful.

Last Day of Presentations

The last day of individual presentations again offered up many great insights into what people truly discovered from this class. As in previous blogs I will again list some of the presentations that were most memorable/outstanding to me and elaborate on them. I’d just like to also say great job everyone I certainly know how hard it is to speak in front of people.
Jake- Jake talks about a subject that is often discussed in our society, violence in the media. Jake makes the point that violence has been around for all time and uses Ovid’s Metamorphosis as an example. He argues that by viewing violence it is a way for us to purge our emotions and therefore not commit violence. He further goes on to say that those of us so inclined to commit acts of violence will and whether or not we read it in Ovid will not affect our actions. I agree with this to a point. Certainly those who are prone to violence will commit it no matter but being shown violence may give these people more creative ideas than what they could have come up with.
Rio- Rio talks about how Echo because basically a self-made immortal. Because of this her story is one of the most powerful things in Greek Literature. Echo is self sustaining and lives on and has even outlived the gods through her connection to love. As Dr. Sexson says you can still to this day hear Echo respond to you in the cliffs and valleys of the world crying out for love.
I think this is both beautiful and true and it reminds me of a story I read long ago that discussed the three times you die. The first time you die is your actual death, whatever it may be. The next death you experience is that of being buried either in the ground or cremated and having your ashes spread. These deaths equate to first the death of your soul and then the death of your body. Finally, the last death you experience is the death of your memory, or when people stop talking about your life. There is really no way for any of us to prevent the first two deaths but through acts of heroics like Achilles and acts of pure love like Echo we do not have to experience our third and final death.
Luke- Again Luke talks about having his originality taken from him and I find it so fitting that the presentations have allowed for this scenario.
Ann- Being a huge Rocky Horror Picture Show I absolutely loved Ann’s comparison to the story of Pygmalion to Dr. Frankenfurter’s plight to have the perfect man. It is the exact same story, if only the sexes of the creations have been switched, and unlike Pygmalion Dr. Frankenfurter comes to see that his creation is not everything he thought it would be and more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Term Paper- Sorry About Formatting and Lack of Footnotes

SarahBurke Burke 1
Dr. Sexson
Classical Literature
22 April 2009
Erysichthon and America

The story of Ovid’s Erysichthon recants the horrific consequences of greed, power, and debt, until finally showcasing a descent into the depths of hell. This literary piece relates quite well to modern day America and the predicament we have placed ourselves in. Through the same actions of Erysichthon, greed, power, and debt, we are in the midst of the ultimate collapse. Perhaps if our politicians of today only knew that all that possesses the past possesses the future we would not be facing such a terrifying dilemma.

Erysichthon’s story begins with a want for lumber and the commencing of a party into the woods to retrieve some. Erysichthon holds no trepidation for the Gods and disregards them entirely. Erysichthon takes this disregard with him as he advances to a tree in complete solitude that bore tributes to the Goddess Ceres, each containing a prayer. Erysichthon plunges his axe into the tree mutilating the bark as he proceeds. There is a lone cry from the band of men that have trailed behind Erysichthon but the protest makes Erysichthon frantic and he truncates the man’s head.

America’s story begins quite literally with the creation of the automobile and the supervene demand of oil in which to manufacture gasoline. As America’s population grew, so did the demand for crude oil which was not only used for gasoline but also, “…ink, crayons, bubble gum, dishwashing liquids, deodorant, eyeglasses, records, tires, ammonia, and heart valves.” And with an estimated population of 307,212,123 by July 2009 , the United States demand was beginning to exceed its supply.

So, it may just be an improbable coincidence that America decided to wage war against a country with, “the world’s second largest proven oil reserves. According to oil industry experts, new exploration will probably raise Iraq’s reserves to 200+ billion barrels of high-grade crude, extraordinarily cheap to produce. The four giant firms located in the US and the UK has been keen to get back into Iraq, from which they were excluded with the nationalization of 1972.” Like Erysichthon, America performs an act both morally and ethically wrong in pursuit of a resource it needs. Again, as in Erysichthon few people voted against our commander and chief to no avail, “The vote on House Joint Resolution 114 as taken on October 11, 2002. It passed the Senate by a vote of 77 to 23. The 21 Democrats, one Republican and one Independent senator…”

Erysichthon is successful in his quest for lumber and destroys the tree housing the nymph sacred to Ceres. This victory does not come without a price however, “She condemned him/To Hunger—/But infinite, insatiable Hunger, The agony of Hunger as a frenzy…” Erysichthon soon felt hunger in his sleep, he would tear at the empty air, lick his lips, and dream of food.

When awakened, Erysichthon consumed everything in his sight but still Hunger remained. Though Erysichthon was a king and certainly had reserves of money at his disposal he soon found it running extremely thin from the constant acquisition of food and the sub sequential devouring of said food. So Erysichthon made a disturbing choice; he would trade his last possession, his daughter, for food.

As previously discussed, Americas own appetite for petroleum by-products continued to grow to an unsustainable level. The oil fields discovered from our warfare were certainly helping to feed the insatiable beast but American knew we must continue to control this Mecca of resources least we not be able to satisfy our demand. So America, like Erysichthon, sent our own sons and daughters to retrieve and protect the assets we so desperately desired.

Erysichthon remains arrogant and proud until his very demise never once seeking out the cause of his curse of Hunger or apologizing for his horrific defecation of the tree. Instead, he continues to prosper by using his daughter’s gift from the god Neptune in his favor. But even his daughter’s new found gift cannot save Erysichthon from himself. In a dramatic last scene Erysichthon transforms into his own food and eats himself alive.

America is also arrogant to the affects of our addiction and all but refuses to research alternatives to prevent a fate identical to Erysichthon’s. “The Iraq war has already cost the lives of nearly 4,000 U.S. troops, but there is another cost that is not so readily quantifiable: the economic toll. Forecasts of the cost to the U.S. have reached into the trillions of dollars, fueling a controversy over the impact on the budget and the economy.” This article was written well over a year ago and we now know the economic toll the war has caused. Not only did the cost of gas reach close to five dollars not but a few months back but the government is having to troll farther and farther into debt to protect both industries and citizens. Yet, there has been little research into what can substitute as an alternative to gas and little done, though there have been promises, to remove our presence in Iraq.

The absolute truth is this, America is eating itself alive. We no longer can afford to sustain the practices and luxuries we have become accustomed to and if we, like Erysichthon, choose to ignore the dilemma we face we will reach our ultimate demise. If there is one thing we should take from this class it is not the knowledge of authors, literary styles and mythological ceremonies, but the fact that these stories possess our own lives each and every day. As the old saying goes, if we do not learn from our past we are bound to repeat it.