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.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Rachel's topic during her presentation was love. She said, "No one experiences love the way we do but we are still connected through our shared experience." The topic of love in this class has been so intriguing to me because I consider myself to be absolutely in love right now. However, some of the things we have read have made me question twice what I consider to be true love.

But what an interesting thing love is, because as Rachel said, we all experience it. No matter who you are, race, gender, society, circumstances, we all experience the love for and hopefully from another person at sometime in our lives. I think this is why so many stories are written about the beauty of love and the experience, even though we are aware that everyone around us has experienced love no one can quite experience what we ourselves are. The feelings you have for another person may seem to be consuming, unable to even be described, yet you strive to so others can share in your absolute happiness.

I really believe the idea of a tally and what Aristophanes described dealing with soul mates and people being halves of wholes. I have always told people that if my husband was to die I would never remarry. My mother scoffs at me, why would I choose to live my life alone when I could find another person and be happy? Don't I think my husband would want that? Maybe, I reply, but what happens in the afterlife when you are suppose to be reconnected with your loved ones, including your husband, but you are now in possession of two husbands? It's a weird though I know but I truly believe we will all be reunited and I will want to be reunited with my one true love.

I also believe in soul mates and though I believe that their are different kinds of soul mates I believe you only have one of each. And I believe that we all have the power to be lucky enough to find our soul mates if only we could remember what we have forgotten as Socrates speaks of. I feel I have been lucky enough to find my soul mate but I find it incredibly sad that many people would not be quick to believe this. I can hear it now, really, they'd say, but you're only in college a sophomore at that and you have your whole life ahead of you to date and find a person to love, you just think you've found your soul mate. Maybe, but they cannot argue with the pieces of coin we possess.

Presentations Day Two

This blog will basically just be a run through of what some people talked about during class today and some light commentary. And if I incorrectly spell names please forgive me.

Misaki: Misaki talked about what she learned from this class. Basically, like many of us have found, Misaki learned that everything can be connected to the past. Misaki related Ovid's Metamorphoses to a movie from Japan, that won an Oscar if I remember correctly, Spirited Away. I have yet to watch Spirited Away but my curiosity has been peaked from the illustrations Misaki provided for the class; the family turning into pigs, very funny.

Christina: Christina talked about the transformation Ovid experiences through The Imaginary Life and how he must get past his circumstantially bound self. She goes on to speak of Ovid's fear of relinquishing control over his life. However, once Ovid gains realization that he is part of the world around him and that it is part of him he experiences inner peace and is freed through death. I think this is a metamorphoses that we should all attempt to embark on throughout our lives. We are all so encased in our own personal lives and selves that we fail to see the connections around us. I think this is a very noble journey indeed.

Zack: Zack talked about how we can all remember what we have forgotten only if we are reminded or strive to. He spoke about a touching lullaby his mother use to sing and expand on through his youth that I found terribly endearing. I hope that Zack places the entire lullaby on his blog for us to read because I would thoroughly enjoy it.

Sally: Sally relayed Elizabeth's idea of love and lust and pure love of children through her presentation. She spoke about a neighbor who had killed her children and speculated as to why. And though as Sally says, no one can approve of a killing in any sense I think she did well trying to understand the thought process behind it. Sally believed that the woman, who was schizophrenic saw her children as pure loving beings and either wanted them to continue on that way forever or to go to a place where they too could receive that pure love.

Erica: Erica talks about her love of tragedy and why we as humans obviously enjoy it too. She believes we enjoy tragedy because we can relate to the characters suffering, as Erica says "it happened to me too." And though the characters of the books past may be experiencing something a bit different from us it is still the same absolute suffering we all must endure.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I also really enjoyed Zack's presentation on how his perspective and emotions changed after attending this class. Not only do I relate to how he feels I also enjoyed how he compared the class to Wikipedia and Sparknotes. Zack talks about how the literature of this class and others cannot be reproduced on Wikipedia and Sparknotes fully. Of course, if one is so inclined and rushed for time a person may almost always find the literature at these places. But the true meaning, emotion, and beauty of these works can never be captured and reproduced. By reading one of these sites we are really robbing ourselves of the experiences the authors intended for us.

Shoni talks about how movies on her shelf related to stories in our class. I have addressed my same findings in earlier blogs and enjoyed her comparisons. She relates Legends of the Fall to Hermes, Gran Torino to Antigone and George Steniers conflicts, and Dances With Wolves to Imaginary Life. Sadly, I have not seen any of these movies so I cannot comment further about this but I think I have found three movies to add to my queue.

I was surprised by how many people chose to write a short story. I had to laugh when Jillian discusses how she believed her short story would be original only to be beat by two people before her. I have not had a chance to read all of these short stories but I fully plan to because they all sounded extremely interesting. I also do not think I will have a chance to go to the Kagy Coffee Club but I will try to find something to substitute.

Not Even This Is Original

I must start off with applauding Brian's topic for his term paper and presentation. I have explored the thought that nothing can be original in a previous blog and it was extremely fascinating to me as apparently it was to Brian as well. Brian gave a few examples of this through Pinocchio and Midas and he is completely correct.

Now, in an earlier blog I discussed how this affected me as an English major and someone who enjoys both writing and reading. At first, I thought it was really a horrible thing to find out that everything you love is in essence a lie. I imagined the quote I once read by I believe Mark Twain, but do not hold me to this because American Literature in high school was long ago replaced by all this college learning. Anyway the quote went something like this, "the doctor looks upon the young girl with a flush in her face and does not see beauty but the beginnings of sickness and disease. The seaman cannot appreciate the beauty of the rivers around him as they flow and chop, but only sees the course and obstacles in his way."

Again, I butchered that quote because I cannot remember it nor the author fully but I hope you get my point. Once you study something extensively it is almost like taking the magic out of it. And at first, seeing that nothing can be truly original in literature did just that for me. But then I realized instead that we can pride ourselves on the references we make in our works and revel in the fact that only those educated few that have taken this class and others like it, will understand.

It's funny, my father has a favorite game to play when I am watching a movie he has dubbed completely heinous. He will lay out the plot from watching merely five minutes of the show, because it has all been done before. Now this use to annoy me immensely not only because he would always be correct but as a young child I was not crippled by the fact that nothing was original. Everything I saw was new and fresh to me. But now, I must say I will fully be able to trump him at his own game thanks to this class. My father may be able to tell me the plot, but I will be able to tell him where it originated.

It Haunts Me

This class has undoubtedly changed me, the evidence greets me every morning at breakfast. As Dr. Sexson asked I picked up the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and proceeded to read the headlines in a new light. I read the Chronicle everyday mind you, it's one of my favorite breakfast activities, but this time it certainly was truly different. One of the first headlines I read was, As bears die,hunters and climate change blamed. I really did not expect these kind of results the first day I tried this little experiment. Because as all of you, as well as I, know the bears they are surely talking about are none other than Callisto and certainly the hunters that are killing the bears are her son. It is with great certainty however, that I venture to believe that none of these hunters realize they are creating a perfect reenactment of said story. Which is such a shame, in my opinion. Here is a choice quote from the article, "Bears are being seen-and killed-in places where they were absent for decades."

In a day that followed, I have now forgotten which one, I found another article that again related perfectly to this class. I did not steal this paper as I did the bear one and so I cannot be as accurate as I would hope. Anyway, a doctor of sorts has theorized that our president Abraham Lincoln suffered from a rare genetic disorder. The man came to this conclusion because of the facts that Lincoln was extremely tall, had visible bumps on his lips, and his health seemed to be declining. The doctor goes on to describe that had Lincoln not been assassinated he instead would have died within a year from a cancer accompanying the disorder. Now this is all extremely interesting but it is a hypothesis.

The only way for the doctor to prove his theory is to test DNA. There is a piece of cloth that holds blood from the slain president in a museum in, I believe, Pennsylvania. The museum is unsure if this is ethically okay. Now I know this one is harder but all I could see was the story of Antigone in these lines. No, they are not fighting over Lincoln's body but they are fighting over a part of if and whether or not it is right to perform a certain act on it. Now can you see? Antigone completely.

Is this getting eerie yet? I am also reading a book for pleasure on my own time called "Love Walked In" by Marisa De Los Santos. It is a light, fluff, type of read but I think we as English majors all need that once in a while in between the Socrates and Whitman. But while I was reading the other day I came upon a scene where a woman is fighting with a brother-in-law rather fiercely. Just as the battle comes to a crescendo and the piercing words uttered this happens, "...we ended the night laughing." Even though they both were upset about many things and on the brink of what would be an emotional out pour of sadness instead the laughed to keep from crying.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Covering All Bases

First things first, writing this term paper is going extraordinarily well. Dr. Sexson has certainly fulfilled his goal to show us all that possesses the past possesses the present. It is almost uncanny how seemingly easy it is to compare Erysichthon to the America of today. It has been an absolute joy to write what will surely be a paper I am truly proud of.

Second, for anyone that wants them these are the pages Dr. Sexson deemed most important from The Golden Ass. 18, 25, 28, 60, 71, 93, 117, 120, 127, 131, 132, 139, 143. And things we should know for the final exam: and then the laughter by the stage, Lucius becomes a man by eating roses, psyche did not always mean mind it meant soul.

Third, I certainly feel for poor Psyche and the impossible tasks her mother-in-law gives to her. I think we as women dating men, especially men that are only children, face these struggles each and everyday. We must constantly please the women who bore our lover, yet we will never achieve true approval. After all, he is her baby boy and she is his mother and that certainly is a bond that should not be spoken of

Home, Dr. Sexson's final words for what was the last class he will truly teach in front of us truly resonated with me. Because many of us in the class may not of always understood of what importance some of the things we read and did had we should all understand now. "We end where we began." As Dr. Sexson put it our journey is like that of Lucius'. Furthermore I invite all of you to read this essay by John Caris examining the multiple layers in the story Cupid and Psyche. I find it to be a very interesting read.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Golden Ass

So while googling The Golden Ass I found an interesting video for a book History: Fiction or Science? Which believes that the Greek and Roman eras of the world was created and imagined by the Renaissance thinkers. The book also believes that Jesus did not exist when previously supposed but in 1000 AD. And though all these claims certainly are radical the first three minutes does talk about The Golden Ass and also shows beautiful artwork so I think it is worth taking a look at.

I also found an interesting website discussing the responsibility of the reader:The charge to the reader: intende (lit. 'be attentive') -- rather like the beginning of the first English epic Beowulf : Hwaet ('listen') -- is a much more demanding commencement than 'once upon a time...' It requests the reader to be an active participant in experiencing the tale, not simply a passive listener (Apuleius's style throughout is consistent with this notion). The Latin statement, in fact, is a conditional: 'if you are attentive, then you shall take pleasure', suggesting that the reader's enjoyment depends upon the degree of attention paid to the tale.

I find the last part of this book the most interesting as it deals with Lucuis wishing to enter into the cult of Isis. The sacrifices and religious teachings are extremely poetic and also show the great devotion to religion.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Teachings of Pythagoras

Chapter 15 of Ovid deals a lot with Pythagoras's Teachings. There are eleven teachings listed in all and I will relay them here.
1.Vegetarianism-Because as Dr. Sexson says you never know if an animal could turn out to be your kin.
2.Metempsychosis-from Wikipedia:is a philosophical term in the Greek language referring to transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death. It is a doctrine popular among a number of Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Druzism wherein an individual incarnates from one body to another, either human, animal, or plant.Generally the term is only used within the context of Greek Philosophy, but has also been used by modern philosophers such as Schopenhauer and Kurt Gödel; otherwise the term transmigration is more appropriate. The word also plays a prominent role in James Joyce's Ulysses, and is associated also with Nietzsche.
3.The Eternal Flux-"the only constant is change"."For what was before is left behind: and what was not comes to be: and each moment is renewed." Ovid
4.Four ages of man-gold, silver, brass, iron, each less precious than the first.
5.The Elements-Earth, melting, is dilated to clear water: the moisture, rarified, changes to wind and air: then air, losing further weight, in the highest regions shines out as fire, the most rarified of all."-Ovid
6.Geological Changes-the Earth is every changing.
7.Physical Changes-we are ever changing.
8.Autogenesis- from Wikipedia:In biology the word autogenesis has been used to describe two similar concepts:

* Abiogenesis - the origin of life, as used by Aristotle and in modern theory.[1]
* Orthogenesis - a discredited evolutionary idea that hypothesised a directed 'teleological' form of evolution.

Autogenesis may also have been used to mean a combination of the two, a purposeful, directed or 'special creation' abiogenesis event, the product of which undergoes orthogenesis.

The word was used in gnostic texts such as The Secret Book of John. There it was an honorary title given to the logos, Jesus the Christ.
From Ovid:"The cub that a she-bear has just produced is not a cub but a scarcely living lump of flesh: the mother gives it a body, by licking it, and shapes it into a form like that she has herself."
9.The Phoenix-renews and reproduces itself. From the ashes it arises.
10.Transfers of Power-One state falls, such as Troy, and another rises up from it much like the Phoenix.
11.The Sanctity of Life-Again, because we are every changing we may find ourselves changing into animals so it is not good to eat animals least it be ones relative.