A Beginner’s Guide To Reading 3 Epic Poems

epic [ep-ik] adj. noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style

A few days I came across a curious thing on Tumblr: a student who was interested in and in possession of three epic poems – The Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid – in translation, and who wanted to read them but didn’t know how to approach them in a way that made them easy to understand.

As a classics major in undergrad, I had little trouble understanding what was going on in these epics because I had been exposed to the stories, in varying amounts, and the cultural context of the stories for a number of years already. I can only imagine what it’s like to read these stories with little to no knowledge of the Greco-Roman world or the literature that came from it.

So, after a lot of thinking, I figured the easiest way to explain how to approach these epics was to provide anyone who wants to know how (i.e. anyone who’s reading this) with 1) a brief overview of the background, major characters, and major cultural topics of each epic and with 2) a general outline of the structure(s) of the epics.

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Summer Job, Summer Class: A Lesson in Time Management

When I signed up for my summer class – an intensive Latin course that intended to get through the entire language in only eight weeks – I had no intention of getting a summer job. I thought I’d be sitting pretty with the money I had gotten from my summer scholarship, with enough to pay for the class and to pay for my rent and utilities until my stipend started in September.

But I was so, so wrong.

The class turned out to be a little more expensive than I’d thought, leaving me with barely enough money to get through the first month. So I quickly applied for jobs all over town – mostly in retail, but in food establishments too – hoping against hope that I’d find something that wasn’t a total drag and paid well enough.

Luckily, I had an interview and was offered another by a different store, but took the job I was offered from the first one. I experienced my first full-blown work schedule this past weekend – working one twelve hour day, two ten hour days, and two eight hour days in a row – and it was miserable. It was hot and humid, sometimes rainy, and my feet and knees were killing me after all of those hours on my feet.

But at the same time that it was miserable, it was totally worth it because it allowed me to learn so much about the store and its merchandise in a short amount of time, as well as get to interact with so many different people. Just yesterday I modeled clothing for two women who were shopping and it was so fun.

At the end of the weekend, however, I remembered that I still had homework to do – and a lot of it. Plus, on top of all of that, the Democratic National Convention is on this week, and I’m working three more days. Going from class to work to homework and being politically informed is beyond tiring – doesn’t it just sound like it?

I haven’t quite perfected the art of time management in this situation, but I am working on it actively. Today, I had a day off so I did all of my homework for next class and the class after that, just so that I wouldn’t have to worry about doing it after getting home from work tomorrow at 9:30pm (I’m not a night owl anyway, so doing homework that late is painful for me). As for balancing class and work, it’s a little tricky to do when you start work right as your class is ending – yesterday, I asked to leave half an hour early so that I could eat lunch before work, and I felt terrible. Tomorrow, though, I think I will try to eat my lunch during our ten minute break in the middle of class and ask to leave ten minutes early instead. It only takes five minutes to walk from class to work (thankfully) so it should work out fine.

I am working until the end of August, but my class ends on August 19th, so hopefully things will be easier by then. As long as I stay on top of my homework – or at least stay ahead of it so that I don’t neglect to do it or forget until the last minute – and ingest as much coffee as humanly possible (just kidding… maybe) then I think everything will be fine. This is my first summer working AND taking a class, but once I get the hang of it, it’ll be alright. Plus, I’m getting paid, so it’s definitely worth it.

Just four and a half more weeks to go. I can totally do this.

A Solemn Vow

It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I tell you that I lost a good friend today. Killed doing exactly what she loved – helping others and raising awareness about affordable housing through Bike and Build – Anne was only 22 years old, fresh out of college, full of excitement, and love, and purpose.

But now she’s gone.

I’ve felt a lot of things in the past few hours. I’ve felt shock, and disbelief, and pain, and sympathy, and regret. I was shocked and in disbelief when, ten minutes before class started, I was innocently scrolling through my Facebook feed and found out the news. I was in pain – the worst pain you could ever imagine – and still am, when I realized that she had been taken from my life and everyone else’s so suddenly. I felt sympathy for everyone else she knew, all of the other lives she touched, for her boyfriend, for her family. I regret not keeping in touch better after she transferred schools in our sophomore year. I regret not telling her how much her friendship meant to me, not realizing how much it meant until now.

I’ve never felt this empty, or numb, or hurt in my entire life. I don’t think my body or my mind knows how to process it. I know that she’s dead. I know that she’s gone and she’s not coming back. I know how it happened, and what she was doing.

But I still can’t accept it. I won’t.

Thinking about her today, I’ve realized a lot about what I loved about Anne and what she taught me in the time that I knew her. She was so passionate about helping others, had such a big heart, and was so courageous. She left shortly after graduation on her adventure with Bike and Build – totally unafraid, totally motivated by her purpose. Fearless.

If anything, she’s taught me that life’s too short – her death just reinforced that. Life’s too short to procrastinate, to not be passionate about anything, to be afraid. Life’s too short to not acknowledge the friends you haven’t spoken to in a while, to meet up with them every now and then, to tell them you love them, if you still do. It can be taken away so fast, and you might not get the chance again.

So I vow, in honor of Anne, to stop being afraid. I vow to get out of my own way, to challenge myself, and to give my whole heart to my passions and my friends and family.

Because life’s too short.

Rest easy, sweet girl.

What Anonymous Smartphone Apps Say About A Society

While I mostly partake in apps like WhatsGoodly and Yik Yak for the sake of snooping and just overall being nosy, after going from a school where the apps were blocked to a place where students are able to use it freely, I’ve noticed some pretty appalling things about what the things that are posted on these smartphone apps say about the population (mostly the young population) as a whole.

Since these apps are anonymous, it is hard to tell what age group these posts represent, but considering the fact that a university campus dominates most of the town, it can be safe to assume that the people who utilize these apps most are within the 18-22 year old range. The posts can range anywhere from complaints about school to social activism and politics. But what stands out the most is how many people use the apps for negative reasons – to be condescending, to put down others, to criticize social and political groups, the list goes on and on.

Just today, I found out that the occasional posts asking, “Are all sorority girls shallow?” or “Are all sorority girls emotionless?” or “Should all top tier sorority girls be ghosted?” was just a meme – not a legitimate concern by any one person. I spent hours last night trying to convince a guy that sorority girls weren’t actually emotionless only to find out today that it was all just a part of a joke, and a common joke at that.

What kind of person – or groups of people – joke like that?

Regardless of what the character of the majority of the Greek men and women on this campus actually is, in what world is it just OK to make fun of them or perpetuate something so cruel?

It is truly amazing how much you can learn about people in general on an app where anonymity is widespread. Of course, it’s not fair to generalize about the whole campus based on a few people, but the vast majority of people seem to be obsessed with sex, making politically incorrect comments (like ‘BLM is going to start a race war’), talking badly about an individual or group, or the latest trend, Pokemon Go.

Sure, some of the posters could be sarcastic or joking, and sure, freedom of speech exists, but it really shouldn’t extend to apps like these, or speech that is hateful or offensive. Even though we can’t really know who these people are for sure, what we do know is that this is what they think about on a daily basis. Even people you do know could be thinking these things deep down, and only express those things on anonymous apps like these, and you could never know.

I don’t know why this app was created or why it’s still around, but I really wish that it wasn’t. Maybe if it wasn’t around anymore, people would get off their high horses and start treating others much better than they are.

Amazon Prime: A Love/Hate Relationship

About a month or so ago, I found out – to my great surprise – that Amazon offered a Prime account for students, and that account was extended not only to undergraduates, but also to graduate students. It was basically free to sign up, and you get free shipping for six months as long as you’re currently enrolled in school, and then after that you get half off of regular Prime. I was mostly interested because I needed to get textbooks for my summer class ASAP and free two-day shipping was calling my name.

However, what I didn’t realize were two things – one good, one bad.

The bad thing first. Super excited about this whole Prime Student thing, I perused Amazon for the exact books I wanted (good prices, good quality, right edition) but when I went to purchase them, the prices were all wrong. It still was charging me for shipping, and I didn’t understand why. So, I investigated, and it turns out that there’s a catch: you get the free two-day shipping, alright, but only on items that have the distinctive blue mark of Prime approval. Everything else you still pay shipping prices on.

Now, that wouldn’t really be that big of a deal if I weren’t a flat broke graduate student living on her own and wanting to buy new books to read and save a couple of bucks in the process. I’ve always been the kind of girl to choose the bargain, the lowest priced item out there, but Prime doesn’t always give you those things as an option. So you can either opt for the lower priced used book and pay full price on shipping, or you can choose the slightly more expensive book and get free two-day shipping. I’m sure in the long run you’re paying about the same amount of money, but it’s easy to forget to look for the Prime stamp of approval.

The good thing, now. Aside from getting free two-day shipping on textbooks, you get free two-day shipping on every kind of book. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dictionary, a textbook, or something you read for pleasure, if you can find the Prime stamp of approval, then you can get it in two days without paying shipping. It’s a blessing and a curse, because now I want to buy all of the books but I don’t have all of the money. Sure, I could opt to read the books as eBooks and cut out shipping and fussing with Prime stamps altogether, but eBooks cost money, too – often more than a paper copy.

While Amazon Prime Student can be a little frustrating at times, I have loved it so far and will definitely try to get more out of it as I start my new job and start making money again so I can have nice things like new books. I would totally recommend students to get it if they can – it saves a whole lot of money on shipping and if you need something in a pinch… you’ll have it on time.

Apartment Tour

Ok so I know I’ve only been officially ‘moved in’ for a little over a week now, I technically moved in almost a month ago and have been really itching to share some photos of my very first and very own apartment! I’m finally starting to fill in the empty spaces, now all that’s really left is to start hanging things on the wall and to get my TV.

Other than that, I’m really loving it here.

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(Featuring the chef’s knife I cut my finger on while washing the dishes prior to the photos)