Articles on Guide to the Classics

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Fresco showing a woman called Sappho holding writing implements from Pompeii Naples National Archaeological Museum. Wikimedia Commons

Guide to the classics: Sappho, a poet in fragments

Sappho sang of desire, passion and love – mostly directed towards women. As new fragments of her work are found, a fuller picture of her is emerging, but she remains the most mysterious of ancient poets.
An illustration from a 1914 edition of Anna Karenina. Zahar Pichugin/Shutterstock.com

Guide to the Classics: Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is often acclaimed as the best novel ever written. The enthralling narrative explores love and family through intertwining plot lines, with Anna and her desire at the centre.
A central convention of Greek mythological narratives called katabasis, the hero’s journey to the underworld or land of the dead. Marcella Cheng/The Conversation NY-BD-CC

Essays On Air: Journeys to the underworld – Greek myth, film and American anxiety

Journeys to the Underworld – Greek myth, film and American anxiety. The Conversation36.9 MB (download)
Our new podcast, Essays On Air, features the most beautiful writing from Australian researchers. Today, classics expert Paul Salmond explores how modern cinema directors borrow from Greek legends.
Virgil reads the Aeneid to Octavia and Augustus. Angelica Kauffmann/Hermitage/Wikimedia Commons

Guide to the Classics: Virgil’s Aeneid

Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid documents the founding of Rome by a Trojan hero. As with other ancient epics, our hero has to remain resolute in the face of significant divine hostility.
Giotto’s Last Judgment in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, inspired by Dante Alighieri’s vision of heaven and hell. Wikimedia

Guide to the Classics: Dante’s Divine Comedy

The gates to hell in Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy tell us to "abandon all hope, yet who enter here". Despite its unfunny premise, 'La Commedia' ends well, with its protagonist Dante reaching heaven.
Odysseus and his crew escape the cyclops, as painted by Arnold Böcklin in 1896. Wikimedia

Guide to the Classics: Homer’s Odyssey

The story of the Odyssey is a quintessential quest that relates to the passage through life and the importance of love, family and home. Odysseus's adventures have influenced everyone from Batman to Bob Dylan.
The Greeks defend their ships from the Trojans in Alfred Churchill’s Story of the Iliad, 1911. Wikimedia

Guide to the classics: Homer’s Iliad

A central idea in the Iliad - a poetic work focused on the war for Troy - is the inevitability of death. The poem held a special place in antiquity, and has resonated in the millennia since.
Gilgamesh explores what it means to be human, and questions the meaning of life and love. Wikimedia Commons

Guide to the classics: the Epic of Gilgamesh

From environmentalism to the meaning of life, the themes of the world's most ancient epic are still remarkably relevant to modern readers.
Yggdrasil, the tree that supports the world in Norse myth, can be found in America in Neil Gaiman’s mash-up of world religion. Starz

Guide to the classics: Neil Gaiman’s American Gods

American Gods imagines a US where ancient gods exist at "right angles to reality", asking why we have mythologies and why we need them.
The ‘sky in silver lace’ is Vivienne’s euphemistic metaphor for the encroaching hard times. Shutterstock

Guide to the classics: Alice Pung on Robin Klein’s The Sky in Silver Lace

The Melling sisters — like Alcott’s March sisters and Austen’s Bennetts — are four girls who become women during the course of Robin Klein's trilogy of novels. The Sky in Silver Lace is the most bittersweet of the three.
The 1998 film adaption of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, starring Johnny Depp as Hunter S Thompson, introduced millions of new fans to the world of gonzo journalism. Fear and Loathing LLC

Guide to the classics: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Hunter S Thompson's 1971 book is a torpedo ride through some of the strangest scenes in American fact, or fiction. It's about greed, the souring of '60s idealism, the failings of journalism and much more.
Carl Rahl’s Orestes Pursued by the Furies (1852). Wikimedia

Guide to the classics: Christina Stead’s The Beauties and Furies

The tale of a married woman who joins her lover in Paris, The Beauties and Furies is a modernist classic. Like Joyce's Ulysses, the action is concentrated in one city, but dreams are nightmarish in this city of night, not light.
One of the most famous attempted rapes in literature: the nymph Daphne turns into a tree to escape the god Apollo. Apollo chasing Daphne, Cornelis de Vos, 1630.

Guide to the classics: Ovid’s Metamorphoses and reading rape

There are calls for Ovid's Metamorphoses to be taught with a trigger warning. This 15-book epic is a rollercoaster of a read, with moments of both delicious joy and abject depravity. Like much great art, it was not created to please.
Icelandic sagas are under-appreciated in the world of European literature. Oscar Wergeland [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Guide to the classics: the Icelandic saga

Family feuds, love affairs, empire writing back to the motherland - the medieval Icelandic saga have it all. Though less known than other classics of European literature they richly deserve a place among the best.

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