Monday, July 10, 2017

Truthseekers and an accomplished liar

While we are on break for the summer, I've enjoyed a couple of Dante-related resources which might be of interest.

While Dante had no access to most of Greek Philosophy, he clearly had some sense of Aristotle. I happened upon a set of lectures on Greek philosophy that are unusually fine. Professor David Roochnik of Boston University does more than survey some 400 years of Greek thought -- he interrogates it, and tracks how successive thinkers revise, refine, and recast the work of their predecessors. Murky guys like Parmenides, whose poetic works are in ruin, emerge with a clarity that seems true to the complexity and context of their approaches.

The course, Introduction to Greek Philosophy, is available from The Teaching Company. Roochnik is superb on Aristotle, and readers of Dante will benefit from his reading. But each of his predecessors from Thales to Plato receives the same high level of attention.


Sententiae Antiquae has long been a favorite classics blog. Given that Ulysses remains a most compelling, enigmatic predecessor to the the poet of the Commedia even to the highest reaches of Paradiso, today's post about the Greek hero's contrived tales is both instructive and a pure joy. As a reminder of Homer's brilliance in portraying the multi-layered lies his hero tells -- through an analysis of his calculated fictions found in the Scholia -- it gives us one more example of the degree of human genius against which Dante chose to measure his poem, and his wholly other vision of heroic challenge and triumph.