PEOPLE: The most perfect stories ever told!


Seeing ourselves in such texts: Today, The Iliad exists as a written text.  It's published in the form of a book. 

In an array of translations, The Iliad can be ordered from any contemporary bookstore. It didn't exactly work that way during the many years when the poem emerged in its modern form. 

This first and greatest western war poem emerged as part of an oral tradition. The leading authority on the poem describes the process in the following way:



The Iliad and the Odyssey were likely written down in Homeric Greek, a literary mixture of Ionic Greek and other dialects, probably around the late 8th or early 7th century BC. Homer's authorship was infrequently questioned in antiquity, but contemporary scholarship predominantly assumes that the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed independently and that the stories formed as part of a long oral tradition. The poem was performed by professional reciters of Homer known as rhapsodes.


In antiquity, the Greeks applied the Iliad and the Odyssey as the bases of pedagogy. Literature was central to the educational-cultural function of the itinerant rhapsode, who composed consistent epic poems from memory and improvisation, and disseminated them, via song and chant, in his travels and at the Panathenaic Festival of athletics, music, poetics, and sacrifice, celebrating Athena's birthday.

Originally, Classical scholars treated the Iliad and the Odyssey as written poetry, and Homer as a writer. Yet, by the 1920s, Milman Parry (1902–1935) had launched a movement claiming otherwise. His investigation of the oral Homeric style—"stock epithets" and "reiteration" (words, phrases, stanzas)—established that these formulae were artifacts of oral tradition easily applied to a hexametric line.

Clarifying a bit, the poem was developed through centuries of oral tradition. It was first "written down," in Homeric Greek, "probably around the late 8th or early 7th century BC."

The poem's development came from that oral tradition. That tradition tends to produce perfectly crafted stories through endless act of oral reshaping, accidental or deliberate.

Today, The Iliad exists as a book. As Yevtushenko said in People:

There are left books and bridges
and painted canvas and machinery.
Whose fate is to survive.

But what has gone is also not nothing:
by the rule of the game something has gone.

Something is gone in the modern context. What is left is a set of perfect stories—the earliest stories which survive in the European literary context.

In effect, these are (among) the first stories ever recorded. For that reason, these stories are also the most direct, the least adorned—the simplest. 

A question arises:

As contemporary people, can we possibly see ourselves in the stories told in The Iliad? For example, in the brilliant bit of story-telling with which the war poem starts?

As we've noted, the poem starts near the end of what has already been a ten-year siege of Troy. As with us Americans in recent years, so too with them:

A plague is visiting the Achaean camp. Ransom is being offered for the safe return of a stolen person. What we would regard as sexual misconduct is rife.

Sexual misconduct is rife, as in our own day. There is one major cultural difference—as a general matter, no one seems to think it's morally wrong to kidnap young women for sexual purposes. 

Putting it a slightly different way, no one seems to feel the need to pretend to care about such things.

At any rate, a plague will soon be sweeping the Achaean camp. Meanwhile, there's one more story element which is highly recognizable. Agamemnon, lord of men, will soon explode in a debilitating fit of rage, a phenomenon which is hardy unknown within our political culture today.

In Robert Fagles' 1990 translation, the poem's Book One bears this title:

The Rage of Achilles

The rage of Achilles will drive this long poem. First, though, we meet the rage of Agamemnon. 

Agamemnon, lord of men, has taken a sexual slave. The story moves with brilliant speed, and it begins as shown:

Yes. Chryses approached the Achaeans' fast ships
to win his daughter back.
bringing a priceless ransom
and bearing high in hand, wound on a golden staff,
the wreaths of the god, the distant deadly Archer.
He begged the whole Achaean army but most of all
the two supreme commanders
, Atreus' two sons,
"Agamemnon. Menelausall Argives geared for war!
May the gods who hold the halls of Olympus give you 20
Priam's city to plunder, then safe passage home.
Just set my daughter free, my dear one. Here,
accept these gifts, this ransom

Chryses is a priest of Apollo. Agamemnon, lord of men, is one of the two supreme commanders of the many Achaean (Greek) armies—the armies which will be introduced through ten pages of text in Book Two.

Chryses has begged for his daughter's return. He has even said that he's willing to see the Argives plunder Troy (King Priam's city).

Chryses has begged for his daughter's return. Quickly, we're told what happens next:

And all ranks of Achaeans cried out their assent:
"Respect the priest, accept the shining ransom!"
But it brought no joy to the heart of Agamemnon.
The king dismissed the priest with a brutal order
ringing in his ears...

Agamemnon drives the old priest from the camp. Where the breakers crash and drag, the priest now prays to Apollo:

The old man was terrified. He obeyed the order,
turning, trailing away in silence down the shore
where the battle lines of breakers crash and drag.
And moving off to a safe distance, over and over
the old priest prayed to the son of sleek-haired Leto,
lord Apollo. 

Apollo visits a plague on the camp. This leads to a furious dispute between Agamemnon and Achilles as the men fight over who will be allowed to retain which sexual slave.

This story moves with lightning speed, the fruit of centuries of recitation. The events it purports to tell would have occurred thousands of years ago, but the basic elements of human behavior are highly recognizable.

The city of Troy was facing a siege. Today, a siege is being directed at the Biden White House.

The ancient war of The Iliad was fought with Bronze Age weapons. Our own siege will be decided through the weapons of information, in a war of the Information Age.

That said, undifferentiated, inchoate rage has been a major part of our national politics over the past nine years. Sexual misconduct by powerful men, or allegations of same, has also been a familiar part of the modern political context. 

To our eye and to our ear, the people we meet in The Iliad behave a great deal like us moderns. A story is unfolding there which is not unlike our own dispiriting modern-day story—and in that modern-day story, our own blue tribe, for all our apparent good intentions, could possibly be on the verge of losing a major fight.

Can we possibly see ourselves in the stories told in this ancient poem? Can literature help us take a step back, in the hope of seeing ourselves a bit more as we actually are?

If we lose November's election, we may even start to face the need to improve our own tribe's political game. Might a flight to a different world help us with some such project?

There are other published texts which might help us take a step back and see ourselves for who and what we actually are. In truth, we aren't the morally infallible people we often take ourselves to be. 

In many ways, we in our blue tribe, like everyone else, are simply people people:

Whom we knew as faulty, the earth’s creatures
Of whom, essentially, what did we know?

Yevtushenko again, suggesting that people are faulty! It's our view, here at this site, that our own blue tribe could profitably learn to improve our political game. 

Other texts may help us learn to see ourselves more fully. We think of Plato's Seventh Letter, an account of the death of the Athenian democracy.

We think of Plato's Apology, in which Socrates describes the conduct of average people but also of powerful men. Also, we think of Robert Graves' I, Claudius, an acclaimed 1934 novel which "tells the history of...the early years of the Roman Empire."

In 1976, I, Claudius became a major BBC / PBS television event. I, Claudius was very big at that time. Could it be helpful today?

At any rate, we plan to chronicle the behaviors of the warring armies as the current siege of the White House unspools through the course of the year. 

Also, as our blue tribe's judicial siege of Candidate Trump begins to emerge in its final form, possibly starting as early as March 25.

We currently live in two different worlds, in Red Nation and Blue. Can a large modern nation really function this way? 

In our view, it plainly can't. How can our imperfect blue tribe possibly learn to help?

"No people are uninteresting," Yevtushenko said. What could the Soviet-era poet possibly have meant by that?

That said, also this:

"Something we were withholding made us weak."

We recently quoted that line from Frost. Is there something our blue tribe might be withholding? 

Could it be making us weak?

Next week: Sieges


  1. Alexei Navalny has died.

  2. "Sexual misconduct is rife, as in our own day. There is one major cultural difference—as a general matter, no one seems to think it's morally wrong to kidnap young women for sexual purposes.

    Putting it a slightly different way, no one seems to feel the need to pretend to care about such things."

    We already know, from Somerby's tone, that he doesn't care about what happens to women in our modern culture. He pretends to care but he thinks "me too" and complaints of feminists, and trials of folks like Jeffrey Epstein are just women whining and bitching again, and it is "woke" and PC to care about anything women want.

    And today's remark about pretending to care is no accident. It is his sly jab, except his hostility is obvious and leaks whenever he calls Stormy Daniels a grifter, as he will in upcoming months once Trump's criminal trials starts on March 25. Women spoil all the fun when they start objecting to being abducted, swapped, trafficked (as Matt Gaetz did with his "dates") and abused in violent and diminishing was.

    And why wouldn't Somerby support Trump and work to get him reelected. He was the rapist in chief and he did whatever he wanted to women. And that is no doubt part of why no one has seen Melania lately.

    1. Sexual misconduct was rife in The Iliad. In contrast, it is much less rife today, and more often punished. Instead of a woman's family needing to pursue vigilante justice, we have laws and they are being enforced more often now. That is partly why Trump is in trouble. (The other part is his financial wrongdoing and his insurrection and his attempts to sell classified documnts to our nation's enemies.)

      Women care about sexual misconduct and women vote. We also vote on issues like abortion rights and equal pay and we are watching how the right has been treating Taylor Swift, because is one of us. Somerby dismisses this as "pretending to care" but women actually do care, and that is why Trump lost in 2020 and will lose again in 2024. The meaner Trump is to Nikki Haley, the more female votes he will lose. Because it is not pretending with women.

    2. "because is one of us" should be "because she is one of us" -- typo correction

    3. Nikki Haley is not one of us.

    4. Nikki Haley is female and when Trump abuses her, it generates sympathy for her among female voters and increases dislike for Trump. I didn't mean to imply that she is a member of the blue tribe or that she is a feminist, although she is showing courage by opposing Trump that male politicians have not shown. Trump is going to lose female votes on the right if he attacks Haley too viciously. This is why Trump had to villianize Hillary before he could attack her. If she weren't characterized as a pedophile and a crook, she would gain sympathy from his attacks.

    5. 10:41 - So Somerby supports Trump because Trump is a rapist. That may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read here.

    6. Yes, exactly, and so do many other Trump supporters. They like that he gives them permission to ignore the boundaries of society. Why do you think they all showed up in Washington DC with arms and plans and the desire to break rules with impunity? They smeared feces on the Capitol walls for God's sake! That isn't politic -- it is an F.U. to propriety and to the Dems.

      Trump is not only a rapist but he got to power in 2015 by saying horrible things about and to women, calling Rosie O'Donnell a dog and claiming to have slept with movie stars who said they never met him. Being outrageous as a caller to Howard Stern's show.

      Somerby and Trump are fellow travelers when it comes to ill-treatment of women, who Trump and Somerby both seem to regard as suitable only for transactional relationships.

    7. "That may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read here."

      That's a very high bar. But note they tried to outdo themselves in their response. This illogical stuff that used to bother me is starting to be my daily entertainment.

    8. So, the reason many people support Trump is precisely because he is a rapist. You really are trying to top yourself.

    9. If you’re a star you can grab women by their private parts.

    10. No Pied Piper. They love him because he is a rapist and brags about it.

    11. Every DNC bot knows who's a rapist and who isn't.

    12. Trump is the racist rapists candidate of choice. Along with half of all voters. (Vegas is putting
      Biden's chance at winning at 30% right now.)

    13. Nikki Haley is a dog.

    14. Do you realize how you're providing evidence in support of Somerby's thesis - that the blue team is so insulated that it cannot even begin to persuade any of the red team? Because they're all rapist-lovers, right?, and there's no possibility of persuading such knuckle-dragging cretins. (And so we lose.)

    15. Persuade the red team of what precisely? Are you joking?

    16. Persuade some members of the red team to vote for Biden. And the fact that you think that that idea is a joke is exactly why we might lose.

    17. You know, you're a little fucking arrogant, Pied Piper. Do you presume that I don't actually know some of these people? I have relatives who laugh about Trump's disgusting behavior. The more disgusting he is, the more they smile. What the fuck do you suggest I say to them?

    18. How about - "Biden's doing a hell of a job on the economy - strong GDP growth, low unemployment, low inflation. And Trump is liable to gut Medicare and Social Security AND run huge deficits in order to give big tax cuts to billionaires. It's something to think about."

    19. If the blue team can say that Clinton and Trump were both rapists then they're saying that Democrats messed up too. If they can't then it's hypocrisy.

    20. Democrats can say Trump was found liable for sexual assault in a court of law, but Clinton was not.

    21. I can't even convince them a pizza shop without a basement, didn't contain children being trafficked in the basement.
      Good luck, Ace.

    22. You won't persuade everyone with the truth. But you'll persuade nobody being a hypocrite.

    23. Clinton was not a rapist.

    24. William Clinton took four trips on a rapist's private airline because he loves helping people so much.

    25. You can also say, “Trump’s running for President and Clinton isn’t.”

    26. “Biden” makes Nixon look like Thomas Jefferson.

  3. "Putting it a slightly different way, no one seems to feel the need to pretend to care about such things."

    The men in the Iliad certainly seem to care about who owns which woman, as a fighting matter, not as pretense.

    Oddly, Somerby seems to attribute his own lack of caring about women to all men these days, not just to some like himself. It is common for people to believe that whatever they think or feel, others do too. Criminals think that all people do the same criminal things they do (or they would if they thought they could get away with it). Somerby thinks the men who care about what happens to women are pretending to care. Are they? There are men who do care about women, who join them in trying to improve conditions for women worldwide and support women's change in our country. They are generally Democrats. Some of them call themselves feminists. Somerby perhaps believes they are just trying to curry favor with women, but I have met enough people who genuinely care about helping others to doubt Somerby's cynicism. I've heard there are white people who also care about improving life for minorities such as African Americans. Somerby no doubt considers that "performative" (aka fake) too. If he doesn't feel any empathy for others, he cannot imagine that others would, so it must all be pretense.

    And this is how conservatives think too. That's why, as Somerby reveals himself in jabs he cannot help making, his own pretense falls away and he is revealed for who and what he really is. And he is not a liberal. Liberals care about women to the point of putting it into the Democratic party platform. Republicans have no platform, because they don't want to be tied down to anything moral. It might embarrass Trump and the deplorables who continue to support him.

    1. Seems like a really dumb observation.

    2. Yes, @10:59, Dems put a lot of things in their platform which supposedly show that they care, but a lot of these things do not actually work. In fact. Some turn out to be counterproductive.

      People who really care check back to see the impact of their “good deeds”. They fix or replace the ones that aren’t working.

    3. I know I answered this complaint recently. I'm not going to do it again.

    4. As opposed to the republicans, who didn’t even bother to create a platform. No platform, no accountability. Clever, that.

    5. David, representing the Do-Nothing Party, lectures us about our "good deeds". His contempt is literally dripping from his words. Go fuck yourself, David.

    6. "His contempt"

      "Go fuck yourself"

      Another candidate for post showing the most lack of self-awareness. Between this unhinged poster and the illogical passive agressive one they make quite the combo.

    7. They are in pain and scapegoat comments on message boards instead of dealing with the root issue.

    8. Yeah I think so. I have sympathy for that. Not feigned. Real sympathy.

    9. Three examples
      1. Head Start has been shown to provide little or no lasting benefit.
      2. Welfare programs inadvertently structured to encourage the breakup of families and children raised without fathers.
      3. Restrictions on suspending or punishing misbehaving black students. These restrictions impair the education of the rest of the students in teh class.

    10. Hey, magat, don't you worry your small little mind about my self-awareness. David is just a passive aggressive troll.


    11. Head Start is a national child development program for children from birth to age 5, which provides services to promote academic, social and emotional development for income-eligible families.

      Head Start is the most successful, longest-running, national school readiness program in the United States. It is a direct federal to local program serving low-income children. The program promotes comprehensive education, health, nutrition, dental, mental health, social services and parental involvement opportunities.

      Many Head Start programs also offer home-based services to families and child care for infants and toddlers through Early Head Start. Head Start is a recognized leader in providing services to children with disabilities, children of migrant workers and Native American families.

      So you would prefer the state of Virginia doesn't do any of these things, right dickface in Cal?

    12. David, here’s another example: we keep aiding Israel, and we still don’t have peace in the Middle East.

    13. Every braindead idiot-moonbat is a troll-detector.

    14. I am a braindead idiot-moonbat but I am not a troll-detector.


    15. @1:28 PM
      You're a fake braindead idiot-moonbat. If you were a real braindead idiot-moonbat, you'd be permanently aggravated.

    16. @12:52 I would prefer that Head Start be fixed so it does have lasting benefit? Wouldn't you?

      A new study questions whether Head Start still produces long-run gains seen in past research

    17. What is your proposal to improve Head Start, dickface? For me, I am happy that we are at least making these childrens' lives a little better for their first 5 years.

      You take one fucking dubious study that goes against numerous respected and validated evaluations, and your smugly pronounce the program a failure, and then you point your finger at "Dems" not caring if their "good deeds" work or not and not constantly evaluating and improving the system. Because you're a full of shit ideologue, David.

    18. To see what's going on in the school system you have to take a philosophy approach. Are students a commodity that's being invested in or living things?

      Commodities are labeled and measured and screened and optimized.

      Human beings are challenged and nurtured.

      It's a value discussion before you even get to the facts.

      I see very little acknowledgement from David in Cal of the effects of nutrition on behavior in schools.

      I see very little opposition from anyone on why honors classes are majority White in schools across the county thanks to the prognosticators in the standardized test system. One bad test in middle school shouldn't screen students from high school classes. We already know that our society has too much segregation of class in its elites.

      I also see very little acknowledgement of David's humanity by people calling him a piece of shit for having less knowledge than he could.

    19. “ for having less knowledge than he could.”

      You’re magnanimous. He is repeatedly told, year after year, the facts, but he still comes here and spreads misinformation. It’s hard to believe it isn’t purposeful.

    20. How many people who called you a piece of shit have persuaded you of anything? Just curious

    21. Irwis, there are lots of Asian kids in honors classes.

    22. 3:08: Depends on whether that person is factually correct. Sometimes, people need to be told they’re pieces of shit.

    23. People in honors classes unnaturally skew to wealthy people, they come from white and Asian upper class family, because the school system tests people and forecasts performance based on a system of test tracking.
      Those with privilege can score higher relatively in middle school years. People with the right temperament to pass tests and the right teachers can move up on the school system. Turns out having a privileged home life is helpful huh.

      The lower ranks, the scum of the earth, have the doors of honors classes shut in their face for years after 7th grade. This effectively segregates the society writ large into haves and have nots, elites vs dumbos, able vs disabled and English vs Spanish.

      It hurts all students who test poorly in middle school as well but equally hurts lower class students trying to get into college. It also creates segregation by language barrier and race as schools specialize in tuning their student commodities to the highest average test scores with marine like precision. They expel students but don't feed them meals or if they do it's not nutritional. And they go into debt just paying for them.

      Students who are less segregated have a host of benefits not just in their performance, acceptance rates in college but also in prejudice later on life. Which people they pick as neighbors.

      Conservatives are fed dubious scare stories about dangerous black students to keep this reality from being said.

      They say Sunday morning is the most segregated time in America because our churches are devastated by racist geographic segregation but so are the honors classes. This becomes who can go into to high paying journalism or get a law degree and advance in the economy and in politics. It becomes how we view trustworthy or untrustworthy people.

    24. Irwis - honors classes are majority white because the population is majority white. However, in terms of the ratio to population, honors classes are disproportionately Asian. I believe that honors classes are also disproportionately Jewish and Mormon. These three groups suffered historical discrimination, yet they're doing better than whites. That shows the importance of some factors other than discrimination.

      No doubt starving children can't learn as well, but, thanks to various social programs, there are not large numbers of starving children in the schools today.

      I'm not any sort of education expert, but people say that having intact 2-parent families is important, as is the family attitude toward education. I suspect that these may be more related to school performance than nutrition.

    25. You don't get to just believe things that appeal to you. You need to have actual data, facts, evidence. Certainly honors classes are disproportionately Mormon in Mormon areas, such as Utah, but not in places where there are very few Mormons living. Discrimination does not make students into honor students.

      There are more starving kids these days because Republicans have been defunding and eliminating meals in schools. Using the word "starving" is disingenuous. When children are hungry because they have skipped breakfast or lunch, they cannot learn well. They don't have to be starving.

      Not every child has two parents. Some have parents who die in car accidents or of cancer or some other disease. Some have parents who cannot get along. None of the kids cause any of this. Treating all kids as capable of learning is important to eaching. Your making this some sort of political issue is reprehensible, but you should know that divorce rates are highest in the red states of our nation, so you guys need to get with it and fix that.

    26. eaching = teaching

    27. David is still arguing against the welfare system that Bill Clinton’s legislation replaced.

    28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    29. David, someone with inheritance can spend money on summer schools, buy extra books to read, computers, tutors. What solution do you offer to those whose great grandparents were slaves cannot and get a lower score on a standardized test, just suck it up and become a coffee barista and forget college?

      Not every white person or Jewish person can afford these and these students also suffer marginalization from the system. Especially untreated things like ADHD and malnutrition affect this.

      But the system is even more rotten than that. Statistical artifacts of testing are magnified to ensure that complex testing barriers exist "to rake the diamonds from the coal." The upper class used to block Jews from schools using the same system used now to keep Black people out of college, systemically screening people with standardized tests.

    30. What solution do you offer to those whose great grandparents were slaves and get a lower score on a standardized test, just suck it up and become a coffee barista and forget college?*

    31. @6:34 My wife worked in a hospital in inner city Newark, NJ. She saw many obese people but few if any starving ones. Do you have any data on how many American students are starving or are hungry enough for their learning to be impaired?

    32. "your ancestors were persecuted" and "your ancestors have absolutely zero inherited wealth" are different things, Jesus Christ open a history book

    33. 13% of elementary school kids and 27% of teens 12-17 yo. have no breakfast.

    34. Correlation of income to test scores:

      Correlation of race to inheritance:

      Do the math David, this isn't hard. It's easier to do well in school with a healthy breakfast and lunch, with a stable income. You're getting lost on a wild goose chase about which non-Black ethnicity is your token to compare to Black people, and missing the picture.

    35. 5% of K1-6 kids have no lunch on a given day. 10% of kids 14-17 yo have no lunch. These %s are higher for food-insecure families.

    36. What part of “you don’t have to be starving to have your learning impaired” did you not understand? When someone is hungry, their attention is unconsciously directed toward signs (cues) in the environment related to food. That means you are distracted from the lesson, exam or work assigned by the teacher. When your body needs food, your mind looks for it, without conscious direction. That is incompatible with focus and concentration needed to learn. No starving required.

    37. Here's some analysis of a successful transition to less segregated schools getting a majority of students into advanced classes by just opening the door.

  4. "At any rate, we plan to chronicle the behaviors of the warring armies as the current siege of the White House unspools through the course of the year.

    Also, as our blue tribe's judicial siege of Candidate Trump begins to emerge in its final form, possibly starting as early as March 25."

    While Donald Trump IS trying to win back the presidency, the blue tribe is not behind Trump's judicial problems. He committed crimes and civil servants (red and blue) in our justice system are prosecuting him for those serious crimes.

    When Somerby accuses the blue tribe of laying siege to Trump in the courts, he buys into the right-wing conspiracy theory that Biden is behind the prosecution of Trump and that this is a partisan attempt to derail his candidacy.

    The so-called blue tribe did not make Trump steal all those classified documents, which it now appears he was intending to share with foreign powers for money and to broker power. Trump worked very hard to keep the FBI from finding them and returning them to our national archives where they belong. Note that many (if not most) FBI agents and staff are Republicans. Note also that the president cannot command the FBI to do things to his enemies because the FBI operates as an independent agency.

    The blue tribe didn't force Trump to rape E.Jean Carroll back before anyone thought he would become a candidate (except possibly the Russians). The blue tribe didn't force Trump to defame her repeatedly, nor to antagonize the judge in his latest trial. That was all Trump's idea.

    The blue tribe didn't force Trump to conduct his real estate and other businesses in the same manner as his father, ignoring laws and conning people and then falsifying his business records. The blue tribe didn't force Trump to hide his dealings with Stormy Daniels (via Michael Cohen, his own fixer) by using money from his campaign to keep his sexual philandering out of the public awareness while he was running for office. That was all Trump. Fraud is his middle name, and that was true long before he entered politics. Then his older crimes have come back to haunt him because being in the public eye made it clear what he was doing and the extent of his lawbreaking.

    When Somerby attributes this to the blue tribe, he politicizes Trump's criminality. But Trump is the criminal and our legal system is behind his prosecutions, not Democrats.

    So why does Somerby repeat right wing conspiracy theories here? That is what he is doing when he blames the blue tribe for Trump's court issues. Today he has doubled down on that claim, hiding behind the Iliad as his excuse for repeating this Republican disinformation about why Trump is going to jail.

    No one here gives a damn about the Iliad, not even Somerby.

    1. I like the Iliad.

    2. I've always been fascinated by the ancient world, shrouded in mystery with so few sources to rely on. Herodotus. The opposing accounts of Alexander's battles by Greek and Persian sources. Good stuff.

    3. Gaugamela, arguably the most interesting of Alexander's battles, is a good example of how difficult it can be to evaluate the accuracy of historical sources. A great case study.

      Estimates of the size of the Persian army range from about 50,000 to over 250,000.

      Imagine historians reading through internet archives far in the future, trying to come to conclusions about this time were in now. They will have to parse through the exaggerations and outright lies to try to determine the truth.

      One might ask themselves, am I contributing to the difficulty of that task? I think it's a question worth asking and might put one's contributions in a different light.

    4. Historians should study the comments of Cecelia and David.

    5. Same here! The old man and I read it together. if you read it out loud, it takes an eternity. If you take a break, you have to pause and go back in order to recall what you have previously read. I don’t recommend it.

      Loved I, Claudius. I read the book and afterwards watched the PBS series. I was shocked to see nudity in a television show from that time period.

      The old man and I listened to Claudius the God and enjoyed it even more than the first book.

    6. I was disappointed that only one episode of I Claudius had nudity.

    7. I wanted Augustus’s daughter to get naked.

    8. The Iliad should be chanted, accompanied by guitar and flute, bongo drums optional.

    9. Read the Odyssey aloud with my daughter when she was in high school - she'd never have read it herself. One of the great experiences of my life - as was "I, Claudius" on Masterpiece Theatre (sure miss Alistair Cooke).

    10. You're misunderstanding Bob's point. He's said repeatedly "you can't sue a movement away."

      Trump is the archetype of the current GOP base. He's angry at everything while also a victim of everything. So his power isn't only his voters but in his ability to spout cliches and stop people's logical thinking. And politics is a lot of branding not just facts. He knows that well.

      This blog fears that the media will let Trump into office again because they largely accept these terms of discourse and because people get blindsided by their own vanity that the US system on autopilot can take out the trash.

    11. 3:05: This blog lately has been nothing but telling his readers that Biden is old, thus amplifying the mainstream media’s obsession with Biden’s age. Somerby has not tried to push back. That isn’t the kind of media criticism you’re talking about—it isn’t really media criticism at all. Prior to this, Somerby kept yelling about Trump being mentally ill.

    12. Biden has repeatedly leaked his own fears about his age and public opinion is responsive to the topic. You can argue that the public opinion on Bidens age is manipulated by the media, a kind of low key generation warfare even, but at this point it's still a topic you can't hide from.

    13. Meh. You can hide from anything you want.
      Look how quick we hid the fact about Wall Street thugs crashing the world's economy so badly the government (of all things) had to bail it out?

    14. Polling came out today showing that Biden has the best chance of any available younger candidates to beat Trump. If Somerby is hoping that if he knocks Biden enough, the Democrats will look for someone else, he is mistaken and so are those supporting their own favorites, whoever they are. None of them have enough support to plausibly win in place of Biden. So it is time to get behind him and stop repeating right wing memes here in hopes AOC or some other urealistic hope will take over if Biden is trashed enough.

    15. Your loyalty to Biden doesn't extend to other people's speech. If it did, this would be a Stalinist country, not a republic with voters.

    16. Where did I say it did?

  5. “our blue tribe's judicial siege of Candidate Trump”

    The justice system has indicted Trump for committing certain crimes. The prosecution must make a non-political, fact-based case. If it makes a weak or unconvincing case, the jury will acquit.

    In the e Jean Carroll trial, the jury included a Trump supporter, and the verdict still went against Trump.

    It would be preferable if Somerby didn’t imply that the prosecutions are “blue tribe” prosecutions, making them seem politically motivated.

    As for the siege of the Biden White House, every political campaign can be likened to a siege of the other party. In this instance, using Somerby’s terminology, there is also a “judicial siege” against the Biden White House, including the Hur report, and the Hunter Biden investigation. Would these be called the “red tribe’s judicial siege” of Biden? So far, despite the idea that these are also politically motivated prosecutions, Hur cleared Biden, and Weiss indicted a key witness against the Bidens.

    At any rate, a judicial siege is an irresponsible way to describe a prosecution. The prosecution must prove its case before a jury, using facts. It isn’t the same as a war being waged where the strongest army with the biggest weapons wins.

  6. How exactly did the Democrats force Trump to misuse his charitable foundation -- using the money raised for his own benefit and not for the claimed charitable purpose? The court dissolved his charity and forbade him from starting any new ones in New York. Trump's grifting was on their radar before he entered politics -- how did the blue tribe do that?

    Or maybe Somerby is implying that the justice system is part of the blue tribe. And yet most police and DAs are Republican, not Democrat. And even Trump-appointed ultra-Republican judges have been ruling against him. And juries with Trump supporters have been convicting him. Because he is guilty of committing numerous crimes, not because Democrats are out to get him.

    Somerby is a huge ass to accuse blue tribers of trying to rig systems we believe in and work hard to ensure are fair. Such casual insults are undeserved, just like the things Trump says about his perceived enemies.

    But how can the blue tribe be an enemy to attack, when Somerby is supposedly one of us?

    1. Your point is well taken. Somerby insinuates that the judiciary apparatus aligns with the blues yet, the majority of prosecutorial officials pledge allegiance to the Republican banner, not the Democratic. And juror assemblies, peppered with Trump's adherents, have pronounced his culpability. For his transgressions are manifold and grievous, not because of a Democratic vendetta against him with a cock in it.

    2. Agreed. But I hope that Somerby recognizes that, and is referring more to the media frenzy focused on the trials. Still, I share the desire to see the judicial system not fail to hold Trump accountable for his crime spree, even if some of the coverage could be a bit less overwrought.

    3. Somerby tends to call the mainstream media blue when it actually represents diverse viewpoints. What it shares are business interests and a need to make money. This is another Somerby strawman, that any media not Fox is blue.

  7. Joe Manchin will not run for president.

  8. I will be voting for the best presidential candidate. I am Shmorby.


  9. "As contemporary people, can we possibly see ourselves in the stories told in The Iliad?"

    Only the liberals with their primitive bicameral heads can.

  10. The Iliad is a great work, but comparing it to an election is ludicrous. It calls for jokes.

    Can Trump win the election by erecting a giant horse filled with Republicans who will secretly add illegal votes? Can he win by kidnapping Jill Biden?

    These ideas are meant to ridicule the comparison of the Iliad to an election.

    1. The Iliad does not include the story of the Trojan Horse.