Tag Archives: 300

2019 Reading Challenge: My 5 Star Reviews, Part 5 (Greeks and Romans)

Welcome to my favorite reads of 2019…Part 5! I TAed this past semester for a class on early Western political thought which means I finally knocked off a lot of Greek writers from my to-read list! However, I will be the first to say that I only understood most of these books because I was taking a class while I read them. Accordingly, while these hit five stars and were favorites of the year, I don’t necessarily recommend just picking them up for fun.

The Histories by Herodotus

Basically, the book where we get the story of 300. Full of facts and legends, it really was an interesting read and fascinating as the first “history book” as we know the term today. I found it surprisingly fun as well as historically significant. 

Clouds, Frogs, Assemblywomen, Wealth by Aristophanes 

Arisotphanes was an Athenian playwright who lampooned the Iliad-like honor culture of Greek society. I read 4 of his plays. They are extraordinarily vulgar, extremely astute, and quite funny. And considering 2,000 years have passed since he wrote this stuff, it is incredible that his poop jokes are still funny. I think Wealth was my favorite. 

Phaedo by Plato

 Plato’s account of Socrates last hours before his death. It is a final look at his philosophy towards life and the philosopher’s call. Brief but impactful. 

The Republic by Plato

An incredibly important book for Western thought and the more I study it, the more I realize how much it impacted the world we know today. I kept pausing to exclaim, “But that’s something C.S. Lewis says!” or “That’s straight out of Saul Alinsky!” or “This is foundational to a G.K. Chesterton arguments!” But of course, it isn’t a book a book that depends on Lewis or Alinsky or Chesterton, but rather the common background for all them. That said, definitely a philosopher’s book. It begs for debate, discussion, further analysis but it doesn’t entirely satisfy because it leaves much unanswered. 

Ethics by Aristotle

I actually read this one twice: first at the beginning of the year while in Thailand then for my class. It definitely made way more sense the second time through. Context does amazing things for your understanding. I particularly liked the section on Friendship. Quite thought provoking. 

The Aeneid by Virgil

I did not like The Aeneid as much as The Iliad, but it certainly deserves credit for historical significance. The Aeneid follows the fall of Troy through the founding of Rome. Tons of hilariously bad passages foreshadowing the glory of Rome and Caesar and whatnot. But also tons of familiar scenes that are part of our modern mythos. So, worth a read. 


300!

Yesterday I celebrated finishing my second final by reading a book…which resulted in me hitting 300 books for 2019! 

Then I finished St. Augustine’s Enchiridion today so I guess technically I’m at 301 at the moment. 

Stay tuned for my 5 and 1 star book lists at the end of the year! It is going to be good. (Or if not good, at least extensive.) 


I Speak Football

We’ve been discussing Herodotus’s Histories in the class I TA for. (In other words, the plot of the movie 300.) As part of the discussion, we talked about the importance of honor going to the city state instead of the individual. We also talked about the importance for Spartan soldiers not to break rank (either for cowardice or glory) since doing so endangered the soldiers fighting beside them. 

Image result for phalanx

At this point, the professor inserts a football example. 

“Take *football player I do not know*. He’s a great player but he thinks the game revolves around him. No one likes that guy.” 

A few people nod. A few look confused. As a football coach’s daughter, I feel obliged to nod and look like I am personally acquainted with this player. ‘Yeah! What a jerk. I mean, come on.‘ 

Then comes discussion groups. Sports are actually a pretty great analogy for this topic. Soldiers don’t run to battle in formation any more, but football players do. Hence the desire for “team players.” 

To help illustrate the point, I decided to draw the Spartan formation on the board like a football play. I figure I’d seen enough of them. Just use Xs and Os!

XXXXXXX

OOOOOO

Then an arrow that shows one X charging ahead leaving a gap in the ranks. Simple!

XX   XXXX
X
\
OOOOOO

Except my plan backfired. Non-athletes took one look at the board and glazed over. Actual athletes took one look at the board and couldn’t figure out what my scribbles meant. Turns out I cannot draw football plays. 

For the next discussion group I focused on an orchestra: “Doesn’t matter how beautifully the violinist plays, if it isn’t the current symphony, it isn’t going to work.” 

Thankfully no one called me out on how little I know about orchestra. 


300 Subscribers!

The last time I wrote a post about hitting a certain number of subscribers to my blog, three people promptly unfollowed it and I dropped below the number I was celebrating! 

But I really do want to say thank you to everyone who reads my blog. A post a day is no small thing, especially for those who get it straight to your inbox. I want you to know I appreciate you all. As much as I try and blog for myself and not pay too much attention to likes or readers, having you all around makes the process 100% more fun. 

I hope you all are having a great week!