Manage episode 351364989 series 2838177
As listeners of the show know by now, I was raised surrounded by books. The "Classics" made up the backbone of our home library, and I was enthralled with tales of Odysseus and Achilles from an early age. My father was a professor in Greek and Roman mythology, his classes routinely being the most popular at the college. I often wondered though, are we reading these stories from a perspective congruent with how the author intended?
If there's one consistent theme underlying the atrocities of our modern age, it's that Western Civilization is the ultimate success of rational human beings. The culmination of history, we in the West stand as the ultimate victor over time and space, over history itself. Science reigns as the new god. The State, not eschewing but rather relishing in its symbiotic relationship with the new secular theology, finds itself in the similar position of all historic States - towering domination over anything that threatens its own survival. As the ambiguous blob of secular materialism slowly rolls along devouring everything in its gravitational field like a black hole, many of us have turned away from a "rational" view of the world to a mystical view of reality that was embraced by our ancient ancestors. How then, would we allow something as simple as the reading of ancient stories not to follow suit? How pernicious and haphazard would it be to go only halfway?
Dr. Eirene Allen holds a PhD from NYU, and is the director of the Institute for Classics Education, a US-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting educators who teach Homer and ancient Greek texts in English classrooms. Her writing and research focuses on these classics, and her publications include study guides for the epics Iliad, Odyssey, and Argonautica, as well as numerous plays by Sophocles and Euripides, and the dialogues of Plato.
Dr. Allen is also a cradle Greek Orthodox Christian. Today we chat about how the West views history through its own lens, and why we are missing so much in our own past when we make this mistake.