#Thelxinoe ~ Classics News for October 11, 2021

Hodie est a.d. V Id. Oct. 2774 AUC ~ 5 Pyanepsion in the first year of the 700th Olympiad

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This time we’re bringing you a BIGGIE. The OG of myth, the big mumma of epic, probably one of the most famous stories from the Classical World: THE. TROJAN. WAR. And yeah – it’s another double (and this was us being concise… ish).  If you’re hoping for a ‘A-Z of Troy’, then keep hoping. We’re not even sure that’s possible to be honest. But this episode should at least bring you the key players and events of the narrative. Part 1 plunges you into the characters – heroes, kings, queens, prophetesses – some better known than others (Glaucus, we’re looking at you). We’re talking Agamemnon, we’re talking Achilles, we’re talking Helen … and of course any excuse to wax lyrical about Hector a little more. Here’s where we background the war for you – literarily and mythologically. “What…?!”, we hear you cry “The Iliad wasn’t the only book about the Trojan War?!” That’s right people. We’ve got a WHOLE CYCLE (and the Iliad only covers a tiny part of the chronology). And the myths! THE MYTHS, dear listeners! What bit of fruit set off the chain reaction that would lead to the death of Patroklus (single tear)? Was it really all about Helen? What’s this Oath of Tyndareus all about anyway – obligatory MD eye roll about Odysseus.

But wait – there’s more? Part 2 of our Trojan ramble brings you a deep dive into THE ILIAD ITSELF *cue fanfare/war cry*. In the second of our Trojan War episodes, we take you on a very summary ride through the first of Homer’s great epics (it’s bumpy, there are shortcuts, peaks and troughs, roundabouts… are we taking this metaphor too far?). This book has got it ALL. Emotion, gore, grief, bravery, a night raid, A LOT of hero-posturing, and some very niche vocab about a wagon (sexy). And hey, guess what … the Iliad isn’t actually about war. Mic drop. Bear with us. There’s a lot in here. Come back, take notes, revise and repeat (plus we get more listens that way) – you’ll get to grips with it. Our takeaway from the episode? The film Troy (2004) is great but don’t believe it.

In October 331 BC, one of the most important battles of world history occurred on the plain of Gaugamela. Alexander III of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great, had been campaigning east of the Aegean Sea against the Persian Empire for 3 ½ years. Already he had won a series of notable victories and conquered many lands west of the Euphrates River. But it would be on 1 October 331 BC that a 25 year old Alexander came up against his biggest challenge to date. A large army, gathered by the Persian Great King Darius III aimed at stopping the young conqueror in his tracks once and for all. The clash that followed would decide the fate of the Persian Empire and mark a major moment in world history. In this, slightly different, Ancients episode Tristan gives a detailed run down of the Battle of Gaugamela: the background to this titanic clash and the battle itself.

Despite the failure of Agis IV to reform a weakened Sparta, a more politically astute (and ruthless) successor could be found in the rival Agiad house, Cleomenes III. Under his reign, Sparta would be restored to a level of power capable enough to bring the Achaean League to its knees during the Cleomenean War (228-222). In a moment of crisis, Aratus of Sicyon would follow the maxim of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, and turn to a most hatred rival: Macedonia, led by the standing regent Antigonus III Doson.

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‘Sorting’ Out Your Day:

Today on the Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar:

If it thunders today, it portends an unusual wind which will be beneficial to the pastures.

… adapted from the text and translation of:

Jean MacIntosh Turfa, The Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar, in Nancy Thomson de Grummond and Erika Simon (eds.), The Religion of the Etruscans. University of Texas Press, 2006. (Kindle edition)

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