Greek hero Odysseus reunites with his wife, Penelope, upon his return to Ithaca, in an illustration from Homer’s epic.
Culture Club/Getty Images
A scholar of Greek literature writes why we need to turn to the past to understand the present – and the lessons that Homer’s hero, Odysseus, holds for us.
If you still haven’t seen this movie about a jazz pianist whose soul goes on a great adventure, it’s about time you did.
Cheese and witches: a potent combination.
apolonia via Shutterstock
For hundreds of years, magicians believed cheese could help them foretell the future or identify a criminal.
Increasingly, Americans seem to have irreconcilable differences over the pandemic, the economy – even the result of the 2020 election.
Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Homer and Aeschylus turned to the divine to write their happy endings. But no gods are conspiring above the US, ready to swoop down and save humankind from itself.
Greek hero Achilles with the body of Hector, his main opponent in the Trojan War.
Jean-Joseph Taillasson/Krannert Art Museum
Families who lost their loved ones during the pandemic could not even properly grieve. Greek epics show why lamentation and memorial are so important and what we can learn in these times.
Perceptions about coronavirus “only killing old people” highlight the ageist way we sometimes refer to death and dying. Greek myth shows this isn’t new and ancient plays laid out the distinction.
The Banquet in the Pine Forest, one of a number of pictures derived from tales in Boccaccio’s Decameron.
Western literature began with a plague and ever since, writers have been using pandemics to comment on society.
A scene from a 1911 staging of the ancient Greek classic ‘Oedipus Rex.’
Greek epics remind audiences that leaders need to be able to plan for the future based on what has happened in the past. They need to understand cause and effect.
Zenobia addressing her troops.
Giambattista Tiepolo (National Gallery)
Anything is possible in the world of computers games – except women who fight, apparently.
Achilles mourning the death of his nephew Patroclus.
George Dawe (1803)
PTSD is a relatively modern term, but the symptoms are as old as civilisation itself.
Thar she blows!
Analyse the great quest of Odysseus with a little 21st-century know how and it’s fascinating what you find out.
Penelope and the Suitors, by J.W. Waterhouse (1912).
It may seem incredible that some 2,500 years since the Homeric epics, women are still silenced in public. But the myths of Archaic Greece resonate today in disturbing ways.
Helen Morse lends her voice to the poetry of Memorial.
Memorial brings Alice Oswald’s poetic retelling of the Iliad to the stage, with its furious indictment of war and its aftermath.
Graham Bartholomew/BBC/Wild Mercury Productions
A new BBC series has put Troy back on the map. But how much do we know about this city of legend?
Odysseus and the Cyclops Polyphemus: how not to treat strangers.
Arnold Böcklin, via Wikimedia Commons
Why right-wing populism gets the tradition of legality and justice exactly the wrong way round.
Director Bernardo Bertolucci, left, discusses a scene from “Last Tango in Paris” with leading actor Marlon Brando and actress Maria Schneider.
The important lessons from one of the most notorious cases of sexual manipulation took place not off-screen but right in front of the camera.
Scene from the movie, Troy, loosely based on Homer’s Iliad.
A classics professor is haunted by the co-optation of his discipline by the so-called “alt-right,” toxic masculinity and other self-styled “defenders of Western civilization.”
Gil Birmingham (Cory) and Jeremy Renner (Martin) in Wind River: grieving fathers who come together in the realm of the dead.
Production Co: Acacia Filmed Entertainment, Film 44, Ingenious Media
American cinema mines Greek myth most strongly at times of profound social anxiety. In the age of Trump, we are already seeing key political battlegrounds framed as underworld quests in film.
Odysseus and his crew escape the cyclops, as painted by Arnold Böcklin in 1896.
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.
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.