Incomplete Associations (Greek)
The fragments of Sappho flutter like a silken ribbon caught in thorny centuries.
Herodotus is the sound of nodding asleep amid the low murmur of unuttered secrets and improbable truths.
The dialogues of Plato are a sly glance between clever friends.
Thucydides marshals his words, setting them in trim, ordered lines, bristling and iron-edged.
The plays of Euripides are reddening berries, seemingly sweet, yet tart to the tongue. Like a master’s black-figure vase are the plays of Aeschylus, stiff of form, archaic, and sublime of aesthetics. The plays of Sophocles are lightning, the bright spot left on the retina by the darkness of the world.†
Hesiod brags of prizes won, the blue-ribbon poem of a pedigree at the county-fair, coarse-woven and straw-capped.
Homer’s poems bind the world itself, perfect links in a chain begun when the beauty of words and the troubles of man first dashed together. The Iliad runs dark and rough, scraping whatever grasps it, leaving the mark indelible of rage. The Odyssey is of bright brass wound with a worn and fraying ribbon, the warm sheen of smooth words and well-told tales snared in thoughts of home.
† Nietzsche’s image of the Sophoclean hero, from Geburt der Tragödie.