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Homer's Deep

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Fragmented, buried, and largely lost, the classical past presents formidable obstacles to anyone who would seek to know it. “Deep Classics” is the study of these obstacles and, in particular, of the way in which the contemplation of the classical past resembles — and has even provided a model for — other kinds of human endeavor. This lecture offers a “Deep Classics” test case: Achilles, in his anguish, stares out from the Trojan shore. What does he see, in the “wine-dark” sea? Our search for an answer takes us on an unexpected journey to Victorian Britain, where John Addington Symonds famously looked back to Ancient Greece in order to look forward to the liberation of “unspeakable” love. As we shall see, the key to this act of imagination lay less in what Symonds came to know about the past than it did in what his sources resolutely failed to clarify.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Classical Reception Seminar Series series.

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