Monday, August 25, 2008

Books & Stuff

Some research I shared at the last meeting.

If you want a short, authoritative summary of the story of the Argonauts pick up a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology (easy to find a copy at any used book store).

I've learned that the best known version of the story is an epic poem by Apollonius. I’ve since found a copy (translated by Peter Green) which is a good read though the tendency of Apollonius to drop the name of some obscure God, Goddess or Hero every other line means frequent trips to the Glossary.

There is a later version by the Roman author Valerius Flaccus that is seldom read.

The earliest version to have survived is by Pindar. Pindar’s brief retelling of the story is interesting because it was ostensibly written to commemorate a victory at the Olympics but was actually intended to pave the way for the pardon of a political exile by a King (who was Pindar’s patron). Pindar’s take on the story of the Argonauts was intended as propaganda in support of the King’s troubled dynasty (the King was the distant descendant of one of the Argonauts).

There was a recent play titled The Argonautika by Berkeley Repertory Theatre that had some interesting staging. Check out some photos here:

and here (puppets!)

I love their idea (not in the original text) of the character struck by Cupid’s arrow walking through the entire play with an arrow struck through her slowly bleeding to death (and nobody noticing!).


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