Laclos: Les Liasions Dangereuses

Laisons dangereuse Fragonard fragonard

  • Auteur:  Choderlos de Laclos
  • Genre: roman épistolaire
  • Published: 1782
  • Language: French
  • Table of contents: 400 pages
  • Theme:  critique of ‘libertinage’, aristocratic society that is bored, useless and wanton.
  • Timeline:  5 months  (August  – January)
  • Title:  refers to dangerous connections (letters, strategies, plans)
  • These connections  are played out in different locations.
  • The attempt by Tourvel to maintain a ‘friendship’ with Valmont, a libertine
  • …is the most  dangerous connection.
  • Place: France
  • Trivia: Ironically Laclos was not a libertine.
  • What is a libertine? – emphasizes sensual love without any moral restraints
  • Laclos’s  military background was disciplined.
  • He fell in love and remained faithful to his wife until his death!
  • He was influenced by writings of Rousseau, La Nouvelle Héloise.
  • He used this popular form of roman libertine to attack the nobility who he detested.


  1. What do Marie-Antoinette and Nancy  have in common? 
  2. We both read “Les Liasions Dangereuses” .


  1. Laclos includes a warning in the preface.
  2. He cannot guarantee the authenticity of the letters.
  3. This is a strategy used by Laclos to increase the feeling of reality in his fiction.
  4. The reader is fascinated by the personal letters.
  5. The reader is a voyeur who still tries to link them to real people!


  1. Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont
  2. …play a dangerous game of seduction.
  3. Valmont  measures success by the number of his sexual conquests.
  4. Merteuil challenges him to seduce the soon to be married Cecile de Volanges.
  5. He must provide proof in writing of his success.
  6. His reward for doing so will be to spend the night with Merteuil.
  7. He has little difficulty seducing Cecile.
  8. But he really wants is to seduce Madame de Tourvel.
  9. When Merteuil learns that he has actually fallen in love de Tourvel…
  10. she refuses to let him claim his reward for seducing Cecile.
  11. Death soon follows.

Main characters:

  1. The masters: Merteuil and Valmont  are  an examples of a libertines.
  2. They  mock spiritual norms, marriage and fidelity.
  3. They use a diabolical strategy and a mastery of language to satisfy.
  4. their  fantasies of sensual pleasures and vanity at the expense of their partners.
  5. Secondary libertines: Prévan, Gercourt, Émilie, la vicomtesse.
  6. Young naïfs: Cécile et Danceny.
  7. Modest, chaste persons: Tourvel, Rosemonde, Mme de Volanges.


  1. Marquise Merteuil revenge towards her ex lover Count Gercourt.
  2. Valmont seduces the austere and religious Madame Marie de Tourvel.
  3. The rivalry between the two libertines, Marquise Merteuil and Valmont.


  1. The main conflict is between the two libertines, Valmont and Mme Merteuil.
  2. They are  constantly challenging each other.
  3. Both want to be ‘les maîtres du jeu’.
  4. Challenges are initially a game of seduction and descend into a destructive rivalry.

Point of view:  multiple

  1. Unlike Le Rouge et Le Noir where Stendhal uses an omniscient narrator.
  2. By using a series of letters Laclos reveals character’s points-of-view.
  3. …..without letting himself become part of the story.


  • The book is divided into four parts each an act in the tragedy.
  • Laclos bookends his masterpiece:
  • beginning Cécile leaves the convent – at the end she returns to the convent
  • Letters are numbered 1 – 175:
  1. 1 – 50:       plans for double seduction
  2. 51 – 87:     adventures during seductions
  3. 58 – 124:   seductions accomplished and female victims flee.
  4. 125 – 175: climax with dramatic irony:
  5. letter 125: Valmont’s  triumph because it proves his love for Mme Tourvel
  6. Yet is Valmonts’s  downfall because he broke the golden rule of libertines:
  7. …never show your feelings.


  1. The first part of the book has a comical feeling of deception.
  2. Characters pretend to entertain one set of intentions.
  3. while acting under the influence of another.
  4. The second part of the book becomes tragic: blind jealousy, revenge, and death.
  5. Valmont writes to Merteuil: To conquer is our destiny, it must be done.
  6. Merteuil responds: Vanquish or perish.


  1. The demands of society required Laclos to use language to his advantage.
  2. He uses euphemisms  to give the book a semblance of suitability
  3. to blunt the ‘steamy’ undertones.
  4. Here are a few examples “les expressions codées”:


  1. Euphemism: used between the libertines to  conceal racy details.
  2. heureuses distractions’ – (pleasant distractions)
  3. entr’ actes ( pauses between lovemaking) (nr 110)


  1. Paradox:  statement that appears to be self-contradictory
  2. Valmont tells Marquise that Cecile is pregnant but she doesn’t realize it herself.
  3. She has retained her ‘innocence’ while doing her best to loose it with Valmont.
  4. Paradox: Gercourt: will think he can evade the inevitable.
  5. “…qu’il évitera le sort inevitable.” le sort= (…a man whose wife is unfaithful)


  1. Irony: Valmont describes a stormy night when he couldn’t sleep a wink.
  2. Actually he was in the middle of a ‘stormy affaire’….writing letter on the back of  his lover!
  3. “C’est par une nuit orageuse, et pendant laquelle je n’ai pas fermé l’oeil...


  1. Repetition: poetic device used at end of each paragraph to draw attention to an idea.
  2. Breakup letter  between Valmont and Mme Tourvel: “Beyond my control.” (141)
  3. 8 x  “Ce n’est pas ma faute.”

Motif:   Letters

  1. Letters are used as  masks to conceal real objectives…seduction, revenge
  2. Letters are written   to influence  or deceive another person
  3. Letters are weapons that  ‘kill’  Marquise Merteuil socially.
  4. Letters some messages do not arrive in time resulting in unfortunate situations.
  5. Letters some are not authentic….dictated by Valmont or Merteuil to their protegées.
  6. Letters some letters are identical… are sent to two different people at the same time!

Style letters:

  • Valmont – Merteuil:  triomphant reports of their libertine adventures.
  • Tourvel: innocent letters with no strategy, plea to Valmont NOT to write her again.
  • Dancey: piquant lettters expressing  ‘desirs’ – ‘ivresse de son âme’.
  • Cecile: letters reflect her naivité and lack of worldliness.


  1. double seductions:  Cecile and Tourvel by Valmont
  2. double protégées:    Danceny and Cécile
  3. double breakups:     Ceecile and Danceny part from their lovers
  4. double libertines:     Valmont and Merteuil
  5. double modest,chaste: Cecile and Tourvel.

Comparison:  Les Liasions Dangereuses vs Romeo and Juliet:

  1. DESIRE without love
  2. Feelings are cold, clinical, detached…no pathos.
  3. Letters are weapons of manipulation, power and destruction
  1. DESIRE with  love
  2. feelings of pathos
  3. …we feel upset when Romeo commits suicide while Juliet is still alive!
  4. letters express true love between Romeo and Juliet


  1. The book can be summed up in one word:  control
  2. Control of one’s emotions. bodies, keys (boudoir), signals (body language).
  3. Laclos demonstrates with elegant language the most subtle forms of violence
  4. Strong point:  mastery of language, using literary devices to conceal sexual message
  5. Strong point:  structure of letters to increase the intimacy and drama of the story.
  6. Strong point: multiple POV add confusion and move the story to different locations.
  7. Strong point:  the Machiavellian and devious way decisions were made by Mme Meuteuil.
  8. Weak point:  the book was too long….it became repetitive and predictable.
  9. A few of those letters could have been left out. Nothing lost.
  10. Last thoughts:
  11. This was going to be a daunting read for me in French…I had to prepare.
  12. I did some research to create an overview of the letters.
  13. If I went blindly into this book, I would not understand what was going on!
  14. There is so much ‘grand eloquence’ …it was overwhelming.
  15. This is a classic but it did not appeal to me.
  16. I would rather you spend your time reading La Princesse de Clèves (1678)
  17. beautiful courtly love.

Score: 3

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Posted by on October 5, 2015 in Uncategorized


No Sugar!


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  1. This summer I challenged myself to stop eating bread.  NO BREAD journal
  2. It took me 2 weeks with a daily 5 km run to reach my goal.
  3. I still do not eat bread!
  4. Now it is time to conquer my BIGGEST  addiction….sugar, cookies and chocolate.
  5. I will use the same strategy – daily 5 km run  and if I have too much muscle pain after fitness….then 5 km walk.
  6. This is not brain surgery, not rocket science….I CAN  do this!
  7. I will publish daily  updates on this post.
  8. Wish me luck…..perhaps do the challenge with me!

Day 1:  05 October 

conquer sugar mountain Opedix-Knee-Tec-Tights

Thoughts: Ready to conquer ‘the SUGAR mountain.
Zip-a-dee-do-dah …here we go, my first NO sugar day.
Cats are cheering me out the door for 5 km run! ‪#‎LongRoadAhead

10:00 After 3 km the ZIP was out of my do-dah! I made it home and now and .

Day 2: 06 October

ignorance is bliss ignorance-bliss-bliss-feeling-ignorance-snake-bird-demotivational-posters-1361407042

  1. Thoughts: Golden rule for any runner is ‘ listen to your body’.
  2. Today my legs told me to take a day off.
  3. I must follow their demand despite my urge to put on the running shoes.
  4. This  No Sugar challenge effects me in a different way than the NO Bread challenge.
  5. But I could not pinpoint the feeling.
  6. Now I discovered that I feel ‘a day without sugar is like a day without sunshine’ !
  7. I need support to help me stay focused.
  8. I decided to read more about the effect of sugar on the  body during this challenge.
  9. Trivia: manufactures calculate just how much  salt – sugar – and – fat are needed
  10. to create what insiders call…
  11. ‘bliss point’.  Now, that is exactly what I am missing….bliss!  (ecstasy effect!)
  12. Foto: I wanted to give you an image of how the
  13. …CEO’s at Pillsbury, Kraft, General Mills, Nestlé, Kellogg and Hershey Chocolate
  14. …are endangering the public. (publiek in gevaar brengen)
  15. We don’t realize what is exactly in our food. (ignorance = onwetenheid)
  16.  Example: Hershey’s ‘Smore-cookie” =
  17. weighs 2 ounces (55 gr)  and contains a whopping 5 teaspoons of sugar!

Day 3:  07 October


  1. Weather and run:  Temp: 13 C  wind: South 3 – good  5 km run, no problems.
  2. Still in the middle of Indian summer but see Joaquin hurricane has
  3. decided to skip NE coast of USA and veer off to Europe = me!
  4. Time to get out the rain gear.
  5. Thoughts: While searching for motivation on other No Sugar blogs
  6. …I see that weight loss is mentioned.
  7. I decided to weigh-in this morning. My first words were:
  8. “This is not acceptable!”
  9. Despite my No Bread  it seems I have been cheating
  10. …with the cookies, After-Eight mints and wine.
  11. Goal: loose 4,5kg  in eight weeks:
  12. daily  5 km run if my muscles can take it + NO Sugar and NO bread.
  13. Strategy:  I have decided to take on a  ‘motivational coach’
  14. …who talks me through the coffee without cookies!




Posted by on October 4, 2015 in Uncategorized


Stendhal: Le Rouge et Le Noir

Stendhal 2 41OZBqozsVL._SX356_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Author:  Stendhal ( Marie-Henri Beyle)  (1783- 1842)
  • Genre: social and historical novel
  • Title:  Le Rouge et Le Noir
  • Table of Contents:  508 pages, 45 chapters
  • Publication: 1830
  • Language: French
  • Theme: church and society are both corrupted by hypocrisy and materialism, ambition.
  • Setting: France 1820s
  • Trivia: Stendhal used a real-life case in December 1827 as the seed of his novel.
  • Antoine Berthier, a former theological student murdered a woman…
  • …whose children he had tutored.
  • The murder took place in a church during Mass.

Title:   Le Rouge et Le Noir

  1. Julien’s vivid interior world – Julien’s colorless exterior world
  2. Military uniform (red, braids, sabres)  – church uniform (black cassock)
  3. Napoléonic era  – small minded Restoration that followed
  4. LiberalismConservatism


  1. The hero of the story is Julien Sorel, young provincial educated by l’ abbé Chelan.
  2. Julien becomes a private tutor to improve his social position (M. et Mme  De Renal)
  3. Thereafter he accepts a position as a private secretary (Marquis de La Mole)
  4. The book traces is path of a  young man who uses
  5. …the mask of hyprocrisy to rise in social circles.
  6. Julien’s goal is to become a member of the aristocracy.
  7. Stendhal describes the strategies, calculations and seductions Julien uses to rise in society.
  8. The characters are revealed by means of interior dialogues
  9. ….that expose their political and romantic ambitions.

Conflict:  represented by three characters  ( there are more conflicts…but I choose this one)

  1. M. de Renal: conservatives of Restoration (1830) who believe in automatic privilege.
  2. Valenod: liberals of bourgeois (Orleanists) who believe in juste milieu...
  3. an equal distance from the excesses of popular power and the abuses of royal power.
  4. Marquis de La Mole: aristocrat who instigates a conservative conspiracy
  5. to maintain the privilege of Jesuit dominated clergy.


  1. The narrator omniscient intervenes frequently to explain what is truth and falsehood.
  2. He also expresses his opinions on the character of Julien, morals of society and the clergy.

Theme:   hypocrisy needed to succeed in French society

  1. Julien adores Napoléon but realizes a military career will not move him op the social ladder.
  2. He pretends to despise Napoléon as a good conservative.
  3. He also learns bible passages to convince l’abbé Chelan  he wants to be a priest.
  4. Julien uses both   “red, secular”  and  “black, religious”   to reach his goal.


  1. The novel is divided into two parts.
  2. Provincial world of Verriere (nature, gardens, children) and artificial world of Paris (salons, hôtels).
  3. Verriere: Julien takes advantage of Mme de Renal and seduces her with ‘military’ precision.
  4. Paris: Julien is exploited by the spoiled coquette Mathilde.

Love triangles:

  1. Verriere: Julien – Mme de Renal – Elisa (maid)
  2. Elisa falls in love with Julien. Mme falls in love with Julien out of her jealousy of Elisa
  3. Julien falls in love with Mme de Renal as a conquest over the conservative M. de Renal.
  4. Paris: Julien – Mme de Fervaques – Mathilde
  5. Mme de Fervaque is infatuated with Julien. Mathilde  falls in love with Julien out of her jealousy of F.
  6. Julien falls in love with Mathilde as a conquest over the aristocrat  Marquis de La Mole.

Style: impersonal pronoun  (book 1, chapter 9)

  1. Stendhal changes the pronoun ‘elle’  for ‘on’ (impersonal) during the seduction scene
  2. …between Mme de Renal and Julien.
  3. Stendhal wanted to mask the identity of Mme de Renal
  4. …in certain scenes to emphasize her modesty.
  5. One made the last effort to remove it (Julien’s hand) from her,
  6. …but finally this hand stayed with her.
  7. “On fit un dernier effort pour la lui ôter, mais enfin cette main lui resta.”

Foreshadowing (Book 1, chapter 5)

  1. Julien finds a crumpled piece of paper on a prie-Dieu (prayer bench) in the church
  2. …with details off the execution of Louis Jenrel.
  3. Julien  also sees the reflection of red drapes as blood near the holy water fountain.
  4. This section foreshadows his own execution (blood reflection).
  5. The name Louis Jenrel is an  anagram  for “Julien Sorel” !

Irony(book 1, chapter 30)

  1. Julien’s ideal is the noble hero Napoléon.
  2. Julien tries to follow his example but becomes
  3. …only a manipulative ‘parvenu’ social climber.
  1. Julien manipulates Mme de Renal with his sad stories  to seduce her.
  2. While she continues to sob even more  Julien sees the success of his efforts.
  3. “Ses sanglots redoublaient. Julien vit le succès de son récit.”
  4. Julien was a runaway success being a cold politician.
  5. “il eut le malheur de devenir un froid politique…”
  6. Julien had the shame (malheur) of being cold and calculated.
  7. But  he believes this shame would only bring him happiness.
  1. In the last scenes Julien understands his true feelings. (Mme de Renal).
  2. At the moment when he ‘conquers’  all….he loses everything.


  1. There is so much in this novel to explore.
  2. Importance  and effect of education: (tutor, seminarian, learning the art of seduction)
  3. Teachers: influence on Julien (l’abbés Chelan et Priard, and Prince Korasoff)
  4. Hero: praise, blame, admiration and scorn influence the future of Julien.
  5. Satire: of doomed French Restoration society and government.
  6. At times I had difficulty following the intricacies of the political message.
  7. Link for July Revolution via Wikipedia was helpful while reading this book.
  8. This book was low on my reading list because..
  9. …it is so infused with a political/clerical message.
  10. I felt it was going to be a lot of work….and it was.
  11. Zola keeps the story lively by his dramatization
    “… he jumped into the room, fell into her arms…she slaps him in the face!” …
  12. …or the big fight scene in the laundry in L’Assommoir’  soap, water and towels flying through the air.
  13. Stendhal tells the story with ‘inner dialogues’  that go on and on.
  14. I needed coffee and choc chip cookies during these segments!
  15. Le Rouge et Le Noir is  well worth your reading time!

Score: 4

stendhal 3 images


Posted by on September 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


AusReading Month

AusReading Month coat of arms

  1. I do not take part in many challenges organized by other bloggers…..but
  2. Brona’s Books Australian Reading Month is the exception.
  3. This challenge always introduces me  to
  4. neglected gems and lost treasures linked to Australia, its history and people.
  5. I have discovered Nevil Shute’s  On the Beach
  6. Australia during the ‘Cold War’ fear of nuclear destruction
  7. and Ruth Park’s classic The Harp of the South
  8. Australian Irish immigrants 1940s inner city Sydney
  9. These books are excellent examples of Australian Literature.
  10. This year I will read The Fortunes of Richard Mahony.
  11. It is hailed as a masterpiece and retains the accolade of the Great Australian Novel.
  12. Hashtags: #AusReadingMonth    #richardmahony and  #bronasbooks.
  13. Ready to escape ‘down under’ during the month of November and join Brona
  14. reading The Fortunes of Richard Mahony!
  15. This is not an easy book to get here….but it is ordered and on its way to NL!
  16. Fire up the BBQ ( barbie) open a cold Foster’s (in NL I’ll have a Heineken)
  17. and lets get crackin’ !
  18. For Brona  I’m adding  the ‘ official ‘  cool drink during the AusReading Month!
  19. Putting the Peroni on my shopping list!

Peroni 10620-Peroni Nastro Azzurro

The Fortunes of Richard Mahony:

fortunes Richard Mahony 41G3KS9HDSL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_

Author:  Henry Handel Richardson (Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson)

Henry Handel Richardson lge_Henry_071224025439021_wideweb__300x300


Posted by on September 25, 2015 in Uncategorized


Master List of Classics

Classics Master List ibrary



  1. Brown, F. Flaubert, A Life
  2. Damrosch, L. Jonathan Swift, His Life and His World
  3. Arana, M, – Bolivar: American Liberator


  1. Joyce, James – Dubliners
  2. Saikaku, Ihara – Five Women Who Loved Love

Greek literature:  Modern dating: c. 1260–1180 BC

  1. The Iliad (Homer)

Middel Ages – Early Renaissance ( 400 AD – 1600 AD)

  1. Praise of Folly, Erasmus ( read  in Dutch)
  2. Shakespeare, W – Romeo and Juliet
  3. Shakespeare, W – Merchant of Venice
  4. Chaucer, – The Canterbury Tales

17th C

  1. Locke, J. Essay Concerning  Human Understanding

19th C

  1. Zola, Emile – Nana (french)
  2. Zola, Emile – La Terre (french)
  3. Zola, Emile – Le Debacle (french)
  4. Zola, Emile – Dr. Pascal (french)
  5. Poe, Edgar Allan – The Imp of the Perverse
  6. Hardy, T. – Tess of the D’Urbervilles 
  7. Multatuli ( Dekker, E.) – Max Havelaar (languge: Dutch)
  8. Crane, Stephen – The Red Badge of Courage
  9. Gaboriau, E.  L’Affaire Lerouge
  10. Scott, Sir Walter – Ivanhoe
  11. Dickens, Charles – A Christmas Carol
  12. Poe, E.A. – The Raven
  13. Verne, J. – L’île Mystérieuse
  14. Dumas, A. – Les Trois Mousquetaires
  15. Contes de Provence (F. Mistral)
  16. Stendhal, – Le Rouge et Le Noir

20th C

  1. Sir Winston Churchill – Their Finest Hour
  2. Mann, Thomas – Buddenbrooks
  3. Somerset Maugham, W – Of Human Bondage
  4. Grossman, V. – A Writer at War ( non-fiction)
  5. Conrad, J. – Nostromo
  6. Mauriac, F.  Le Noeud de Vipères
  7. Park, R. — The Harp of the South
  8. Prudhomme, Sully – Les Vaines Tendresses
  9. Grass, Gunter – The Tin Drum
  10. Camus, A. – La Peste
  11. Christie, A.  Crooked House
  12. Leroux, Gaston – Le Mystère de la Chambre Jaune
  13. Kosztolanyi, D. – Alouette
  14. Rolland, R. – Au-dessus de la mêlée
  15. Mitchell, M. – Gone With the Wind
  16. Drury, A. – Advise and Consent
  17. Park, R. – The Harp in the South

Children’s Classic Books:

  1. Dodge, M.M. – Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates ( 1865)
  2. Carroll, L – Alice in Wonderland ( 1865 )
  3. Kipling, R. – Captain Courageous ( 1897 )

Classics 2012:




The Netherlands

France  ( all books were read in French)


Latin America
























Children’s Classics:


Posted by on September 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


Canterbury Tales


  • Time: 14th C
  • Title: Canterbury Tales
  • Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
  • I have avoided this book since the 14th C.
  • But it seems to keep  following me.
  • “Never, ah, never let me leave thy side…No time shall part us, and no fate divide.”
  • It is time to finally read these unforgettable tales!
  • I bought this book in a ‘euphoric’ state when the New Year begins and
  • one is filled with lofty resolutions after ‘banquets and flowing bowls’ (31st December champagne).
  • I have tried to hide the Canterbury Tales
  • …on the bookshelf, under the bed and behind the piano, but to no avail.
  • As Homer said ” conduct as in courage you excel”
  • …it was time to fight the battle of the Tales by Chaucer.
  • Discover why these tales are historically important and considered  a #MustRead.
  • Discover humor, satire, irony, what each character represents; references to history or gods.
  • Discover chivalry, marriage, courtly love, morality, religious virtue or corruption.
  • I will update this post with my thoughts as I go along….


  1. The narrator and twenty-nine other travelers convene on a pilgrimage.
  2. They decide to pass the time on their long journey by telling stories.
  3. The pilgrims respond to one another’s stories and create a link between seemingly disparate topics.
  4. Characters represent various social levels: a knight, clergymen, the middle class, and a few peasants.
  5. The stories cover many genres from medieval literature and reflect the lively characters who tell the tales.

WikipediaCanterbury Tales

02.09.2015:  The Prologue

  1. It took me 2 hours to read the Prologue.
  2. I used the ‘read and listen method’.  (Kindle and Audible book)
  3. Kindle  is easier than reading the book.
  4. There are ‘hyperlinks’  to a glossary for quick reference.
  5. Audible is essential  if you really want to enjoy the poem.
  6. It was meant to be recited!
  7. Chaucer describes the gathering pilgrims from all classes at The Tabard in London.
  8. Details are delightful and grotesque.
  9. Summoner had black scabby brows and carbuncles (boils).
  10. Pardoner had lockets of hair that hung like rats-tails!
  11. I did not know  Zephyrus was the Greek God of  gentle wind.
  12. Austin refers to St Augustine “Let Austin have his labour to himself”. (Monk)
  13. Gaudies are beads on the rosary for ‘Pater Noster’. (Nun)
  14. On her golden brooch was graven “Amor vincit omnia” (love conquers all).
  15. Aesculopius is the God of medicine. (physician)
  16. Zeus struck him  with a bolt of lightning b/c he restored too many people to life !
  17. St Julian is the patron saint of hospitality (Franklin) and a man’s character cold be defined as dry-cold-moist-hot.
  18. Manciple, Reeve, Summoner and Pardoner are  occupations I had to look up.

03.09.2015  The Knight’s Tale

  1. The Knight’s tale is the longest.  1 hr read summary – 4 hrs to listen to audible book.
  2. At times the tale felt never ending, but it was worth every minute!
  3. Impressive and very touching.
  4. #Characters: Palamon, Arcite, Emily, Duke Theseus
  5. #Plot: a love triangle Palamon – Emily – Arcita with backdrop of courtly love
  6. #Structure: Parts 1-4 end either with reflective question (which lover suffers most?) or cliffhangers.
  7. Young knights battling ankle-deep in blood;
  8. proclaiming rules for jousting; final showdown to decide victory.
  9. #Strong point: dramatic irony – reader knows something the characters don’t know
  10. Disguise: Arcita is disguised as a servant in Duke Theseus’ court
  11. Mixed messages: Arcita (Mars) and Palamon (Venus) pray to these  gods
  12. to help them win Emily’s hand in marriage.
  13. Emily prays to Diana:
  14. That I would be a virgin all my life, and would be neither mistress, no, nor wife”.
  15. #Strong points: mise-en-abyme  Palamon and Arcita fight after praying to the gods.
  16. Theseus stops them.
  17. The gods who help each lover also  fight, Mars and Venus.
  18. Jupiter stops them.
  19. #Memorable passages:
  20. Descriptions of temples (Mars, Venus, Diana)
  21. Palamon’s prayer to Venus in the language of chivalry
  22. Duke Theseus forgiveness  speech to fighting rivals (Palamon, Arcita)
  23. Blow-by-blow description of jousting preparations and battle.

04.09.2015   The Miller’s Tale

  1. #Characters: Nicholas (lover), John(husband) and Absalon (secretly loves A.)  – Alison (wife)
  2. #Theme: Miller’s Tale prologue reveals the basic theme:
  3. “One should not be too inquisitive in life
  4. either about God’s secrets (Nicholas’ prediction of a great flood that is to come…)
  5. or one’s wife (Alison’s affair with Nicholas, the student boarder)
  6. #Plot: Nicholas studies astrology.
  7. He can forecast the weather.
  8. He uses this talent to fool John by predicting a biblical Flood.
  9. While John worries about high waters, Nicholas has an affair with Alison, the wife!
  10. #Climax: The moment a misplaced kiss collides with husband’s flood preparations.
  11. #Strong point: Tone (bawdry, sexual) of Miller’s Tale vs The Knights’s tale (courtly love)
  12. #Strong point: Chaucer has strong Christian values but is not ‘preachy’
  13. He uses wordplay to refer to Noah’s flood to reduce the religious undertone: Nowel’s Flood!
  14. #Situational irony: Alison swears an ‘ooth’ to St.Thomas that she WILL commit adultery.
  15. Then she goes to the church ” to search her conscience and do the works of Christ”.
  16. #Situational irony: The husband restricts his wife to the narrow confines of the house.
  17. “Jealous he was and kept her in a cage”.  He hopes to watch over her chastity.
  18. Ironically Alison has an affair ‘under his nose’ with  the student boarder, Nicholas.
  19. #Characterization: Chaucer uses ‘clothes’ to give the reader an impression of Alison.
  20. Slender contours are gusseted (firmly held together) with girdles, belts, tight bodices,
  21. fastened brooches, purse tied to waist and a tight fitting cap (mutch)!

05.09.2015   The Reeve’s Tale

  1. #Characters: Oswald, wife (nameless), Maylne (daughter), baby (nameless) clerks John and Alan
  2. #Theme: “The greatest scholar was not the wisest”
  3. The Reeve is a low class member of society, but walks as proud as peacock .
  4. His wife demands that people greet her even though she is illegitimate daughter of the parson.
  5. Reeve has contempt for scholarly clerks and manges to steal their ground flour!
  6. #Irony: Oswald the trickster is tricked!
  7. Reeve outsmarts his boss and  the clerks and steals their grain. He gloats!
  8. Clerks spend the night in Oswald’s home.
  9. John and Alan use the ‘cradle-trick’ to seek revenge.
  10. They rape Reeve’s daughter and wife then steal back their grain.
  11. #Tone:  Both the Miller’s Tale and Reeve’s tale have sexual undertones.
  12. Former  is frisky, light  and naughty the latter  is gritty realistic  and cruel.

06.09.2015  The Cook’s Tale

  • #Character: Revelling Peterkin (Peter) apprentice;  master
  • #Theme: Don’t let one bad apple spoil the barrel
  • Introduction: Peter is apprentice living in the house of his master
  • Peter has a ‘dark side’: drinking (“preferred the tavern to the shop”) , gambling, dice.
  • Afraid Peter’ s vices will influence other apprentices…
  • the master  throws him out of the house.
  • Peter moves in with a friend whose wife is a doxy.
  • I was expecting another ‘tale with a twist”  but there was no twist!
  • #Images Peter is merry as a goldfinch, brown as a berry, full of love as a hive is of honey
  • My first vivid image of the Cook was in the General Prologue.
  • He has an ulcer on his knee.
  • But Chaucer gives us an image in the next line: the cook’s best dish, blancmange.
  • I could not help visualizing a soft and wobbly white boil on the cook’s knee.
  • The cook, Roger Hodge (Hodge of Ware) is based on a real London cook, Roger Ware.
  • Chaucer intended for his readers to recognize this poor cook with the sore on his knee.
  • #Satire: Cook’s shortcomings are held up to ridicule with the intent of shaming Roger.
  • “You won’t be angry if I pull your leg.”
  • The narrator accuses him of selling warmed over pies and 
  • having so many flies in his shop they often end up in the food! 
  • ” Your shop is one where many a fly is loose”

10.09.2015  The Man of Law’s Tale

  • #Character: Constance – Sultan – Sultaness – Constable and Hermengild (wife)
  • treacherous knight, King Alla, Queen mother Donegild.
  • #Theme: Why do bad things happen to good people?  Where is God when it hurts?
  • #Plot: Constance could not understand where God was leading her…
  • marriage to Sultan, banishment, false accusations, abuse, banishment again because of stolen letters.
  • Constance demonstrates what it means to have ‘blind trust in the Lord’.
  • #Dramatic irony – reader knows something the characters don’t know
  • Sultan’s  mother pretends to be baptized and is planning to kill her son so she is sole ruler.
  • #Situational irony: 
  • Should be: knight woos a lady and follows chivalric code
  • What is:  this knight sneaks into bedroom and slits woman’s throat!
  • #Literary device:
  • Pathos: Sultaness does not kill Constance but sends her on the “ocean salty and rude’
  • #StrongImage   in a rudderless boat.
  • Pathos:  when we see Constance’s  unshaken dignity
  • accepting disaster (falsely accused, banished) or good fortune.
  • This makes the reader feel pity toward Lady Constance’s miserable plight.
  • She is the mirror of all courtesy,
  • her heart is a chamber of holiness.”
  • #Characterization Sultaness: harridan, crone, virago, 2nd Queen Semiramis,
  • scorpion, root on iniquity, well of vices.
  • #ToneAndMood: Chaucer chooses just the right ‘verb’ for nuance and meaning.
  • This brings a otherwise straight and forward story to life! 
  • hurried hot-foot off,  hacked into pieces,
  • sprinkled with bitterness, mortally to sting. eyed burst from their sockets!
  • #Literary device:
  • #Allusions: Chaucer uses many biblical allusions
  • Daniel in Lion’s den, Jonah in the whale, white Lamb [Christ],
  • He who walked on water, miracle of the ‘loaves and fishes‘.
  • to simplify complex ideas and emotions.
  • There are also references to Greek Mythology, Achilles, Hector.
  • ancient Rome and Greece, Socrates, Pompey, Caesar
  • that gives the story a magical touch.
  • #WordOfTheDay: thraldom – enslavement, bondage
  • #Trivia: What do Chaucer and Einstein have in common?
  • Einstein must have read Chaucer’s words:
  • #Chaucer: “I do not choose to stuff with chaff and straw,
  • My lengthy tale, I rather see the corn.”
  • #Einstein: “Any fool can make things bigger,
  • It takes a genius a genius and courage
  • to move in the opposite direction.”

12.09.2015  The Shipman’s Tale

  1. #Characters:  The merchant of St. Denis (Peter), wife (nameless), monk Duan John
  2. #Theme: marriage: is it a  sacred bond or  a mockery?
  3. #Plot: Monk arrives at mechant’s home claiming to be his cousin.
  4. Merchant’s wife needs money for fine ‘array’.  She asks Dan John for the  $$!
  5. Now we have a ‘circle’ of events where $$ is borrowed and exchanged for sexual pleasures.
  6. #Allusion:  reference in literature to another person: Dan John = Don Juan.
  7. #Situational irony: The Church did not disapprove of sex  ” Go forth and multiply” within a marriage.
  8. Preachers often went to extremes to impress the gravity of the sin “sex outside of marriage.
  9. Ironically it is a monk, a ‘saint of the Church’ who commits the sin he so vehemently criticizes!
  10. #Humor: Merchant tells his cousin he  can lend him money and ‘anything else‘ you need!
  11. “And not my gold alone, but all my stuff;
  12. Take what you please be sure you take enough.”
  13. #Pun: Chaucer uses this literary device as a low from of humor.
  14. “From day to day; and if it be I fail.
  15. I am your wife tally it on my tail.”
  16. “Taille”  has two meanings:  money and sex.

14.09.2015  The Prioress’s  Tale

  1. #Character:  little boy, mother, abbot
  2. #Theme: The hope of God’s mercy is essential to Christian life…but do not forget to forgive others.
  3. #Plot: Llittle boy loves the Mother of Christ and wants to learn a song
  4. …in praise of her before Christmas (Alma Redemptoris)
  5. Cruelly he is murdered by a Jew. His corpse is found but miraculously can still sing the song. When he is buried the Virgin takes his soul to heaven.
  6. #Irony: Prioress tells a simple moral tale but is at the same time immoral by attacking the Jewish race.

14.09.2014  Sir Topaz’s Tale 

  1. #Character: Sir Topaz
  2. #Theme: No real theme, just a  spoof of the rhyming stories that were so popular in Medieval times.
  3. #Plot: Sir Topaz is supposed to be a chivalrous knight but turns out to be a clumsy fool.
  4. #Parody: (poking fun at an individual or ideal)
  5. Love: Sir Topaz  loves elves….a knight should swear his love to a beautiful maiden!
  6. #Rhyme: The tale is abruptly stopped because the pilgrims  could not bear  to listen!
  7. “By God, he said, put plainly in a word,
  8. Your dreary rhyming isn’t worth a turd.”
  9. Chaucer purposely writes a terrible rhyming tale to spoof the tales they are all telling!

14.09.2014  The Monk’s Tale

  1. #Character: The Monk
  2. #Theme: Everyman is architect of his own fortune ( Persian proverb)
  3. #Plot: The Monk tells of the downfall  of many famous figures b/c of Fortune.
  4.  “Even the friends he has will not endure,
  5. for if good fortune makes your friends for you
  6. Ill fortune makes them enemies for sure,
  7. A proverb very trite and very true.”
  8. #Irony: The Monk’s tale does not suit his character (religious) because he emphasizes all that is worldly!
  9. “And that a monk uncloistered is a mere, fish out of water flapping on the pier.”
  10. Monk: should be withdrawn from the world: study, poverty, humility and follow rule of St Augustine.
  11. Monk:  likes to  hunt, speaks openly, loves better things in life and leaves the labor to Austin  himself!
  12. The General Prologue gives a good description of the ‘saint of the church
  13. “Poring over books in cloisters? Must he toil
  14. As Austin (St. Augustine) bade and till the very soil?
  15. Was he to leave the world upon the shelf?
  16. Let Austin have is labour to himself.”

16.09.2014  The Nun’s Priest Tale

  1. #CharacterRussel the fox; Chanticleer the cock; his wife Pertelote (hen)
  2. #Theme: Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.
  3. #Plot: The cock wants to convince
  4. …Pertelote  about the importance of dreams.
  5. He tells her several short stories in this tale. (mise-en-abyme)
  6. This takes up a large part of the story while the moral is at the end!
  7. #Moral: model behavior that reader should imitate.
  8. Don’t take yourself so seriously and
  9. …have too high opinion of your achievements.
  10. Chaucer advises: “So take the grain (essence) and
  11. …let the chaff (all the extra stories/dreams) be still”
  12. Flattery will get you no where.
  13. Just ask Russel the fox and Chanticleer the cock!
  14. #Humor:  humanized chickens

16.09.2014  The Physician’s  Tale

  1. #Character:  Virginius (father); Virginia daughter; Apius (judge); Claudius (thug)
  2. #Theme: Parent has the responsibility to raise and protect his child.
  3. #Plot:  Daughter is beautiful and virtuous and
  4. …walking down the street when she was spotted.
  5. Coveted by a corrupt judge (long story) the father would rather  have her killed than have her dishonored.
  6. #Irony: Father is not protecting his child or her honor…he is protecting his good name!
  7. She pleads for mercy:
  8. “Thus as she wept, ‘O father dear’ , said she,
  9. Am I to die? Is there no remedy?
  10. #Irony: Later father puts on the show of forgiveness  for a thug
  11. …(Claudius should not be hanged, he said)
  12. …and could not do the same for his daughter!
  13. #Irony: The host tells the physician he felt sick after hearing his tale…
  14. “It gave me heart-disease, or very near,
  15. By corpus bones! I’ll need a dose, I fear,”
  16. The physician tells a tale to make people feel sick.
  17. He can then give them  a cure and earn money!
  18. This was a dark tale that was difficult to read …
  19. …in the context of ‘light entertaining storytelling’ on a pilgrimage.
  20. #Trivia: Zeuxis and Apelles were painters of Ancient Greece.
  21. #Trivia: name Apius is dereived from latin verb apiscor meaning to get possession of.
  22. #GreekGods: Phoebus (Apollo), Pallas (Athene), Bacchus and Venus.

17.09.2014  The Pardoner’s  Tale

  1. #Character: Three rioters; the old man
  2. #Theme: Greed is the root of all evil.
  3. #Plot: Three young rioters go out in search of Death.
  4. They are distracted along the way by some gold.
  5. No one wants to divide the gold among the three and they plot against each other.
  6. All end up dead with no gold.
  7. #Satire: Chaucer satirizes  the medieval occupation of a pardoner.
  8. He shows how ridiculous their behavior is.
  9. They lined his pockets with money cashed in from…
  10. …gullible people who loved God and feared hell.
  11. #Irony: Pardoner preaches against greed, but his profession is…
  12. ….totally  focused on gathering  more money.
  13. “And all my antics are a joy to see.
  14. The curse of avarice and cupidity,
  15. Is all my sermon, for it frees the pelf (riches).
  16. Out come the pence, and specially for myself.”
  17. #Irony: The host abrupty rebukes the teller:…
  18. he is a Pardoner yet he is not pardoned.
  19. #Trivia:  “Stilbon”  was the  god of the wandering star
  20. (aster planetos) Hermaon…..the planet Mercury.
  21. His name was derived from the Greek verb stilbô meaning “to gleam” or “glitter.
  22. #WhoIsWho: Avicenna – Arabian physician
  23. #AlliterationPrize: “By two small dice, two bitching bits of bone.

17.09.2014  The Wife of Bath’s  Tale

  1. #Character: Alison (Wife of Bath); John;  (Wife’s 5th husband); knight; old woman.
  2. #Theme: What makes for a good marriage?
  3. #Plot: Knight (rapist) is saved from beheading if he can answer the question:
  4. What do women really desire?  The knight has just 12 months for his quest.
  5. He met an old woman….if he promised to marry her she would tell him the answer.
  6. Once married the old woman asks him what does he really  want….
  7. …a young, beautiful, unfaithful wife or an older, less attractive, wiser and faithful wife.
  8. The knight leaves this decision up to her (…just what women want!)
  9. Having achieved sovereignty over her husband,
  10. …the wife transforms into a beautiful, young maiden.
  11. Both husband (spiritual) and wife (physical) undergo a transition and live happily ever after.
  12. #Irony: The difference between what the Wife says and
  13. …what she really believes (inner thoughts).
  14. #Irony: The Wife alludes to the Bible and its sacred stories,
  15. …yet ironically she twists them to support her lustful ways.
  16. #Irony:  She speaks of the ‘wo’  that is marriage,
  17. …but she has herself inflicted quiet a bit of ‘wo’  on her husbands.
  18. This was a VERY long prologue...(42 min audible) and the tale was only 23 minutes!
  19. The Wife of Bath’s tale is very famous….but it was not my favorite!


#Change of tactics:

  1. Now that I have read and analyzed 14 sections it is time to
  2. relax  and just read – listen  to the last 10.
  3. There are many websites with in depth reviews  available.
  4. There is no use wasting my precious reading time…
  5. …’re-hashing’ many points  that are already known.
  6. I enjoyed these tales and am glad I finally read another classic!

Posted by on September 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


The Iliad …finally finished!

The Iliad Myrmidon

  • Author: Homer
  • Title: The Iliad
  • Time: 8th century b.c.
  • Genre: epic poem
  • Table of contents:  24 book 
  • Trivia: Homer’s poem is divided into books, not stanzas.
  • Each line of Homer’s poetry is written in a meter called dactylic hexameter.


  • Finally read ‘The Iliad’.
  • In this ‘age of no spare time, no down time’ all you have is a life time.
    • Here are my thoughts about the books….
    • I have included  items as
    • #WordOfTheDay,
    • #WinnerCoolNameContest 
    • #Trivia.
    • #Thoughts….. 
    • while  I plodded through this epic poem.
  1. The story relies heavily on natural imagery, divine intervention and  the sentiment of rage.
  2. #NoSpoilers:  I have not revealed the outcome of the battle…
  3. “Forth from the bone the spinal marrow flies.
  4. And, sunk in dust, the corpse extended lies.”
  5. Courage is displayed by both the Trojans and Achaens.
  6. Achilles: furious, in constant rage, proud, sulky, aloof
  7. Diomedes: brave, unsung hero, loyal to command
  8. Ajax: strong. self-control
  9. Hector:  active, vigilant ready to die for his nation
  10. Agamemnon: courage is inspirited by love of empire and ambition
  11. Menelaus: mixed with softness and tenderness for his people
  12. Idomeneus: a plain direct soldier
  13. Sarpedon: a gallant  son of Priam
  14. Sages:  Nestor, Odysseus (soldier) and Calchaus.
  15. There are at least 30 major characters and at last count around 60 minor figures.
  16. There are at least 20 gods mentioned but because of
  17. …different names in he Greek and Roman mythology it feels like many more.
  18. Last thoughts:  I needed all my strength to finish this long book after chapter 13.
  19. I was battle fatigued and needed #CombatRations =  lots of coffee and cookies.
  20. This is a classic epic poem and my compliments to Alexander Pope for a breathtaking translation.
  21. #MustReadOnceInYourLife

Feedback:  comment from My Book Strings:    sounds like reading this was your own little battle!

  1. It was a #MustRead  to improve one’s overview of literature.
  2. I concentrate so much reading time on 18th-19th – 20th  century novels.
  3. Time to discover  the function of poets  within a culture.

Feedback:  Louise asked me about color in the poem and if I discovered why this is a great piece of literature?

  1. I expected the word ‘gore’ (used very often) to have lots of color,
  2. …but it was purple, black only a few times.
  3. Mostly it was clotted, spurted, spattered, flooded or stained.
  4. Homer uses azure often: armor, arms, eyes, waves and throne.
  5. Red  wasn’t used often ( eyeballs, life’s blood, torrent).
  6. Purple (waves, sky, harvest, carpets, death, ocean…).
  7. Gold (shield, sceptre, mansions, hair, chains, bowls, bows and falchions)
  8. Black (choler, bulls, wine, ships, horses, batallions, tempest, sand)
  9. are the winners!
  10. I don’t agree….there was lots of color.
  1. Why was it great piece of literature:
  2. It give the reader of today a glimpse into a past culture.
  3. This was the part I enjoyed the most:
  4. The reader is immersed into Greek Mythology.
  5. The gods become ‘living’ characters.
  6. Interesting was the role of women in The Iliad.
  7. Goddesses are portrayed as strong, beautiful wise creatures.
  8. Other women in The Iliad (Briseis, Chrysies) are slaves, spoils of war.
  9. Even Hector predicts if the Achaens win…his wife will be sold into slavery.
  10. The imagery at times was breathtaking and very original.
  11. There are some wonderful inspirational quotes that one can use in the 21th C.
  12. In book 12 there is a passionate speech about fighting war.
  13. They say it is often referred to by other writers.
  • “Brave though we fall, and honored if we live,
    or let us glory gain, or glory give.”


  • There is no other piece of literature as famous as The Iliad.
  • I thought this would be the best book to start my challenge.
  • My goal is to read this epic poem and finally learn why it is considered a #MustRead.

Book 1: The Iliad   01.09.2015

  1. I read three different summaries of book 1.
  2. Without advanced knowledge of the narrative it would have been hard to understand.
  3. I used a Kindle version of The Iliad  while I listened to  the Audible version.
  4. Through bolts of light, starry domes and feasts ambrosial, I ventured to Olympus to visit Jove.
  5. He agrees to help the silver-footed dame (Achilles’ mother)  and thunders to wife Hera to be silent.
  6. “No force can shake what is and ought to be!”
  7. Lyrical indeed,  story is engaging  but at times confusing.
  8. Gods have different names in Roman and Greek mythology ( = Zeus = Jupiter).
  9. This reading took longer than 1 hour per book.
  10. I spent at least 2,5 hours reading summaries and searching for websites.

Book 1:   02.09.2015  (mistake, my own fault….)

  • Re-reading book 1 Iliad.
  • Greeks are mentioned  5 different names!
  • Achaens, Danaans, Argives, Panhellenes, Hellenes!
  • I felt I had missed so much in my first reading….but discovered the problem:
  • I was reading book 9 ! My Kindle version with the sweep of a finger…
  • …advanced without my knowledge!  #LessonLearned  – check and dubble check your bookmark!
  • Now that I read book 9...must go back to book 2! #WhatOneMustDoForAPoliteEducation  !!

Book 2:   03.09.2015 =  4 hrs.

  1. I was glad I could skip these pages!
  2. Each city wanted to be recognized and hear home-town hero’s praised.
  3. Poems were read throughout Greece.
  4. This is a literary technique used in ancient oral tradition.
  5. These are pages on pages mentions ship captains, ships, where they come from.
  6. List of Trojan Forces and Allies (loc 1655-1693)
  7. There are two long segments: Catalogue of Ships (loc 1469-1628)
  8. While listening try to notice the imagery. This is what Homer is famous for.
  9. This helped me strike off parts I listened to and visualize my progress.
  10. Read summary and write down a few words  as an outline.
  11. #GodsIntervene
  12. Win or lose the Trojan war  – good or bad military advice from the sage Nestor
  13. …. the result is not important.
  14. Everything depends on divine intervention by the fickle gods.
  15. Zeus (Jove), Hera (Juno), Athene (Pallas), Iris (goddess of the rainbow) are in book 2.
  16. #Images:
  17. Armies are flocks of birds with sounds of squaking and flapping of wings.
  18. Armies are ocean:
  19. “murmuring they move, as when an old ocean roars,
  20. And heaves huge surges to the trembling shores”.
  21. #EssentialReference      List of  Greek Gods     (both Greek and Roman names)

Book 3:   04.09.2015 = 2 hrs.

As Willa Cather said:

  1. ” There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves”.
  2. Love triangle is one of these stories. Menelaus (husband) – Helen (wife) – Paris (lover)
  3. Helen was abducted by Paris and brought to Troy.
  4. Menelaus sees Paris on the battlefield and attacks him.
  5. Agamemnon. leader of Greek armies, tells his brother to
  6. …challenge Paris to one-on-one fight to win back Helen.
  7. Book three describes this battle of lovers!
  8. #GodsIntervene to help Paris: Iris (goddess of the rainbow); Aphrodite.
  9. Book three is short and very easy to read.
  10. #WhoIsWho
  11. Spartan queen =  Helen, Spartan king = Menelaus,  Atrides = Agamemnon,
  12. Pahian queen – Aphrodite
  13. pertaining to Paphos, city of Cyprus where there is a celebrated temple of Venus
  14. Phrygian king  = Priam, king of Troy
  15. #Images:
  16. Armies = feeding flocks
  17. retired generals of Troy = grasshoppers ( bloodless with a feeble voice)
  18. Menelaus sees Paris as a  scaly serpent.

Book 4:   05.09.2015 =  3 hrs.

  1. Gods decide to stir things up and break the truce b/t Trojans and Achaens.
  2. Hera (Juno) despises Trojans and wants Zeus to make it look like they broke the peace.
  3. Agamemnon (Atrides) walks among his warriors…
  4. praising the brave, encouraging the timid and scolding the cowards.
  5. Battle scenes described where “in the dust the vanquish’d and the victor lies”.
  6. #WhoIsWho: Machaon (healer) – Eurymedon (chariot driver) – Paieon (god of healing)
  7. #Confusing: Dardan’s joy (refers to city of Troy) – Pylian bands ( efers to city of Pylos)
  8. #Images: fallen warrior – poplar  tree
  9. There left a subject to the wind and rain,
  10. And scorch’d by suns, it whiters on the plain.”
  11. #Images:
  12. Achaen army moves forward like a surf “sedate and silent move the numerous bands.”
  13. Trojans flocks of sheep ” in the hollow vales incessant  bleating fills.”
  14. #MakingProgress: names of warriors, places and gods / goddesses are starting to sound familiar.

Book 5:  05.09.2015  (skimmed this section…)

  1. Don’ t waste your time reading this  VERY  long chapter.
  2. Book Five deals almost exclusively with the brave deeds of Diomede.
  3. #BlahBlahBlah
  4. The chapter does nothing to advance the plot of the conflict between Achilleus and Agamemnon.

Book 6:   06.09.2015 =  3 hrs.

  1. The battle wages on and we have a vivid account of Adrestos  (Trojan) pleading for his life.
  2. Agamemnon spears him all the same.
  3. Nestor (sage) scolds soldiers for stealing from the bodies of dead soldiers:
  4. Less grabbing, more stabbing”.
  5. Book 6 contains an ‘intermezzeo’: (loc 2889 – 2956)
  6. Diomedes (Greek) and Glaucus (Trojan) discovers that ancestors know each other.
  7. They promise ‘friendship’ exchange armor and refuse to harm each other.
  8. Glaucus tell his family story.
  9. #Trivia: Glaucus’s story starts with his grandfather Bellerophontes.
  10. Here is the expression we use today:
  11. “Bellerophonic letters” – document given  to King of Lycia by B.
  12. from the  King of Argos who wants B. dead!
  13. Expression:  someone is made unwitting bearer of message that can harm him!
  14. Hektor returns to Troy, finds Paris in the arms of Helen and scolds him.
  15. “Less loving, more fighting”
  16. Hektor vists wife (Andromache) and son (Astyanax).
  17. Wife pleads him to guide the battle from city walls.
  18. Hektor’s fear of shame (not fighting) is stronger than his fear of death.
  19. He must go. If he dies, it is his fate.
  20. “No force can then resist, no flight can save,
  21. All sink alike, the fearful and the brave.”
  22. #WinnerCoolNameContest:  Bellerophontes  — runner up = Polypoetes
  23. #Image: people are like leaves:
  24. Who cares who I (Glaucus) am, people are born and die all the time, like the leaves.
  25. “Another race the following spring supplies
  26. They fall successive; and successive rise.”
  27. #WhoIsWho   Tydides  (Tydeus) = father of Diomedes;
  28. Praetus (Proteus) = mythical King of Argos
  29. Antaea – Queen of Argos
  30. #SpeakLikeHomer  “Stay, till I bring a cup with Bacchus crowned”  = …have a drink!
  31. #WordOfTheDay  refulgent = Shining radiantly; resplendent

Book 7:   07.09.2015 =  2 hrs.

  1. More fighting, duels, and gathering of the dead.
  2. What ever happens the gods intervene:  “the gods have spoke it, and their voice is fate.”
  3. This was a very boring chapter…even dozed off while listening!
  4. #WhoIsWho: Oileus = Ajax the less; Telamon = Ajax the great; grisly god of Thrace – Mars (Ares)
  5. Apollo = Phoebus god of the sun; Scamander is river god (a.k.a. Xanthos)
  6. #WinnerCoolNameContest = Hypsipyle = princess of Lemnos
  7. #WordOfTheday:  falchion = one handed single edge sword.

 Book 8:   08.09.2015 =  2 hrs.

  1. Chaotic on the battlefield:  “Still swells the slaughter, still grows the rage”.
  2. This book mentions many names of fallen warriors.
  3. Just read them and forget them.
  4. Zeus forbids other gods to intervene in the battle.
  5. Only Zeus may send a shower of thunderbolts to hinder the Achaens and help the Trojans.
  6. Hera and Athene defy Zeus and fly across a liquid sky to help the Achaens.
  7. Iris (godess of the rainbow) is sent by Zeus to convince these ladies to return to Olympus.
  8. Night falls and the Trojans light nightwatch fires…make sure Achaens don’t flee on their ships.
  9. As the next dawn, the last they shall enjoy,
  10. Shall crush the Greeks, and end the woes of Troy.”
  11. #WinnerCoolNameContest:  Archeptolemus = charioteer for Hector
  12. Names of gods and godesses keep changing…it really is confusing!
  13. Athene = Pallas = Minerva = ‘goddess with azure eyes‘  = ‘power of wisdom’
  14. Hera = Juno = ‘imperial regent of the skies’
  15. Iris  = Thaumantia = ‘many colored maid
  16. Zeus = Jupiter = Jove  = ‘cloud compelling god’
  17. #WordOfTheDay = Panomphaean = refering to Jove
  18. #WordOfTheDay Gorgon = head of mythical woman whose look turns people to stone
  19. #Image     warrior’s helmets with scarlet plumes = poppy flowers
  20. “Full-blown poppies overcharged with rain
  21. Decline the head, and drooping kiss the plain
  22. So sinks the youth:his beauteous head, depress’d
  23. Beneath his helmet, drops upon his breast.

Book 9:   09.09.2015 =   3 hrs.

  1. Meanwhile…back at the ranch…
  2. Agamemnon realizes he made a huge mistake by insulting Achilles in public.
  3. The Achaens need their best warrior to help them defeat Troy.
  4. Phoenix, Ajax and Itharus (sage) are sent to Achilles to offer a plethora of gifts.
  5. #OfferYouCannotRefuse
  6. Gold, horses, tripods, vases (cauldrons), nymphs, seven captive lovelys of Lesbian line,
  7. Agamemnon’s daughter (Chrysothemis) in marriage and last but not least…
  8. where all the trouble began the Lyrnessian slave Briseis!
  9. Ulysses’s oration goes in one ear and out the other by Achilles.
  10. He does not trust him.
  11. “Who dares think one thing, and another tell,
  12. My heart detests him, as the gates of Hell”.
  13. Achilles rejects all offerings.
  14. Should all these offers for my friendship call,
  15. ‘Tis he that offers and I scorn them all.”
  16. #Intermezzo: Long story in which Phoenix reveals his origins – connection to Achilles.
  17. Phoenix continues to tell yet another story about the hero Meleager. (loc 4021 – 4092)
  18. Touching, read it if you like but is not important to the plot.
  19. Agamemnon is livid when he hears Achilles refusal to return to fight for Achaens
  20. Diomedes (unsung hero of The Iliad)  tell the king:
  21. Forget Achilles…we’ll fight without him..and win!
  22. “Why should we gifts to proud Achilles send,
  23. Or strive with prayers his haughty soul to bend.”
  24. #NeedToKnow: Patroculus is beloved comrade of Achilles ( and…much more).
  25. His relationship to Achilles is vital  to the story.
  26. He is found in the tent with A. playing the lyre. Cozy.
  27. #GodsHaveADayOff no intervening today!
  28. #Trivia: Pluto – god of the dead – ‘the infernal Jove’ = ‘the grisly god who never hears’
  29. This is the only god to whom no altar was erected.
  30. He was never swayed, no mercy shone, no prayers heard.
  31. #WordOfTheDay: inglorious = disgraceful ( mentioned at least 16 x in book 1 – 9)
  32. #WinnerCoolNameContest: Iphigenia (Agamemnon’s daughter)
  33. Runner up: Thrasymed ( Nestor’s son)

Book 10 :   11.09.2015 =  2 hrs.

  1. Agamemnon asks for volunteer to spy on the Trojans.
  2. Diomedes  (= Tydides) volunteers but wants to choose his own backup = Oydsseus.
  3. #GodsAreAwake  Athena  (= Pallas) sends a heron as ‘fly over.
  4. …to tell Achaens she is watching over them.
  5. Not to be outdone…Hector asks for volunteer to spy on the Achaens.
  6. Dolon volunteers but wants  Achilles’s  ( = Pelides)
  7. …chariot when the war’s over. #Deal
  8. Dolon is captured by Diomedes and Odysseus.
  9. He pleads for his life.
  10. Information about Trojan camp and new recruits is revealed
  11. …but poor Dolon still gets beheaded.
  12. Dio and Ody  sneak into Trojan camp.
  13. #Image ” two lions panting for prey”
  14. They kill the new troops, steal  their horses, pick up some armor.
  15. #JobWellDone. Dio and Ody return to base.
  16. They have a wash in the sea, eat a meal
  17. #SpeakLikeHomer: “the crown’d goblet foamed with floods  of wine” = glass of wine!
  18. They also  make an
  19. …offering to Athena.  #KeepTheGodsHappy
  20. #WhoIsWho    Rhesus = King of Thrace  — Eioneus = son of Rhesus
  21. ‘the Spartan’ – Menelaus;  ‘ son of Neleus = Nestor (sage)
  22. Prince of Crete’ = Idomeneus, one of the Achaens generals
  23. #Gods =   ‘whose fury bathes the world with gore’ = Minerva (Athena)
  24. #WinnerCoolNameContest:   Hippocoon = Thracian captain
  25. #WordOfTheDay:  ‘celestial panoply’  = something that covers or protects

Book 11 :   12.09.2015 =   2 hrs

  1. The battle begins again…
  2. #PloddingOn: ….must pep myself up everyday to keep reading…tired of all this fighting!
  3. #GodsAreAwake: Zeus (= Jove, Jupiter, ‘eternal Monarch’), Hera (Juno),
  4. Athena (Minerva, ‘martial maid’), Eris (goddess of strife = ‘black fury’)
  5. All are meddling one way or the other with the battle.
  6. #Image: Zeus panics troops by letting it ‘rain blood’ !
  7. Pages are filled with battle scenes and names of fallen warriors ( rabid wolves)
  8. Don’t try to remember all the names….read then move on.
  9. They are dead and gone.
  10. “While his keen falchion (sword) drinks the warrior’s lives
  11. More grateful, now, to vultures than their wives.”
  12. #GodsIntervene: Zeus sends Iris (goddess of the rainbow) to  Hector to help him rally the Trojan warriors.
  13. Fight defensively until you see Agamemnon is wounded…then attack!
  14. Agamemnon is wounded, climbs in his chariot and escapes the battle.
  15. #Counterattack: Odysseus and Diomedes are able to bring Hector down.
  16. Hector  is wounded, climbs in his chariot and escapes the battle.
  17. #WordOfTheDay: hecatomb = large scale slaughter
  18. #WinnerCoolNameContest =  Chersidamaus,  runner-up Agastrophus
  19. Achilles is still proud and refuses to fight.
  20. He sends his good friend, Patroclus,  see how the battle is going!
  21. Nestor (sage is everywhere in this story) implores
  22. #BestFriendAchilles Patroclus to tell Achilles to fight.
  23. or at least to allow Patroclus and the Myrmidons (Achilles’s part of army)
  24. …to fight without him. Patroclus starts back towards Achilles.
  25. #PotentialClimaxMoment…
  26. If Achilles will not go to war himself, perhaps he can
  27. #DISGUISE send Patroklos dressed in his (Achilles) armor!

Book 12 :   13.09.2015 =   3 hrs

  1. The battle continues  again.
  2. I cannot keep describing the ebb and flow of this battle with all the names! (15)
  3. #HomerLovesNature: the rivers and streams are always mentioned:
  4. Rhesus, Rhodius, Caresus, Aesepus, Granicus, Simois, Scamander.
  5. #QuickscanBattle:  Achaens retreat behind fortress walls surrounded by a moat.
  6. Hektor keeps attacking and his chariots just end up in the water.
  7. #Image: Hektor fights likes a whirlwind.  Hektor – wild boar chasing the hunters.
  8. Polydamus suggests attacking on foot… and a furious battle erupts at the gates.
  9. “War thunder’d at the gates, and blood distain’d the towers”.
  10. #GodsIntervene:  Omen  ‘fly-over’  eagle carrying a snake in his claws. (…not good sign)
  11. Some of the Trojan warriors want to retreat.
  12. There is some name calling….
  13. Hektor: “You’re a coward!”  – Polydamus replies  “No, You’re a coward.”
  14. Hektor will not be stopped…. does not believe in “bird signs”.
  15. Trojans try to breach the wall.
  16. Ploypotes and Perithous fight like wild boars (lots of boars on the plains of Troy!)
  17. “They gnash their tusks, and with fire their eyeballs roll,
  18. Til some wide wound lets out their mighty soul.”
  19. #NewGod: Boreas = god of the North wind.
  20. #Image: Achaens are like bees and wasps protecting their hive.  Trojans feel their sting.
  21. #HeroOfTheDay: Sarpedon  (= son of King of Priam) breaks into Greek (Achaens) camp.
  22. #ZeusToTheRescue: Sarpedon starts to falter but Zeus strengthens the warrior and he keeps fighting.
  23.  Sapedon calls in more Trojan troops as he singlehandedly holds the breach in the wall.
  24. #ZeusToTheRescueAgain: Zeus gives Hector greater strength.
  25. He lifts a giant stone and hurls it through the gates.
  26. Trojans to advance and they flood into the camp.
  27. “Brave though we fall, and honored if we live,
  28. or let us glory gain, or glory give.”
  29. …..not looking good for the Achaens.
  30. #WhereIsAchilles?
  31. #WordOfTheDay: sluicy  = falling in streams ‘sluicy showers’
  32. #WinnerCoolNameContest: 2 great warriors can’t choose’s a tie!
  33. Polypoetes – and – Asteropaeus

Book 13 :   14.09.2015 =   3 hrs

  1. #CheckSky: no eagles with snakes as bad omen,
  2. …no ‘rain the color of blood‘…safe to start book 13.
  3. #NewGodOnTheBlok: Poseidon (Neptune) is not to be outdone by Zeus,
  4. he arrives to help Achaens.
  5. Neptune = ‘great ruler of the azure round’
  6. #WhoIsWho: Olieus = Ajax the less; Medesicaste = daughter of Priam
  7. ‘Saturn’s great sons’ = Jupiter and Neptune
  8. #MajorCharacterYouMightMiss: Meriones is Achaenen warrior that pops up in 12 books.
  9. #Image: “like  frightend fawns from hill to hill pursued” (Achaens);
  10. blood = life’s purple tide; life’s red torrent
  11. Poseidon takes the formof sage Calchaus.
  12. Advises about battle line and calls them all cowards.
  13. Hektor is attacking:
  14. “Impetuous Hektor thunders at the wall,
  15. The hour, the spot, to conquer or to fall.
  16. …but #GodsIntervene again.
  17. #KeepLowProfile: Poseidon is now in the shape of warrior Thoas so Zeus won’t see him meddling.
  18. There are endless lines about Trojans – Achaens killing each other
  19. #CastOfCharacters: Deiphobus, Alkathoos, Idomeneus, Hypselon and Aineias and Askalaphos.
  20. Not much more to this book, killing, spear throwing, bows and arrows flying.
  21. All are dead or wounded.
  22. #Javelins:
  23. ..restless, supine, impatient, vibrating, winged, eager, splintered, shiver’d on the field.
  24. #Image: warriors = mountian oak, popuar tall, pine
  25. “groans to the oft heaved axe, with many a wound,
  26. #Image:”Beneath the chin the point was seen to glide,
  27. and glitter’d extant at the further side.”
  28. #InsultsHaveEffect: it seems if you call another a coward then there is real action!
  29. Hektor insults Paris and Aias (Ajax)  insults them both.
  30. #Omen: another eagle sighting, nothing hanging in its talons, big cheers from Achaens,
  31. …this must be good!
  32. Both sides just keep on fighting.
  33. #Place: Paphalagonia = province Asia Minor “Paphalagonian race’.
  34. #WordofTheDay:  flagitious = vicious, brutal
  35. #WinnerCoolNameContest:  = Mecistheus
  36. #AlliterationPrize:
  37. “A sling’s soft wool, snatch’d from a soldier’s side”
  38. (…say that 3 x fast ‘real tongue-twister’)

Book 14 – 20 :  15.09.2015 =   5 hrs.

  1. #ChangeOfTactics: The story line is repetitive. Time to condense the reviews.
  2. Battles flare up and at times subside between the Acheans and Trojans.
  3. The Gods intervene constantly and each side gets help from….
  4. …Zeus, Hera, Athene and Poseidon etc.
  5. Achilles is a warrior filled with rage from the beginning until the end.
  6. #Climax: Patroclus (Achilles’s lover) is killed in battle.
  7. Achilles enters the fight with  renewed vengeance.
  8. #NewGod: Hephaestus (god of blacksmiths) makes a special armor for Achilles.
  9. Beside the shield he makes…
  10. …breastplate, a helmet and ankle straps, to protect Achilles’ tender heels.
  11. Achilles kills Hektor’s brother and the Trojan leader rushes into battle.
  12. Killing sprees continues.
  13. #AlliterationPrize: “… full on the neck the falling falchion sped”
  14. #SavedAgain: Apollo pushes Hektor out of the way of Achilles’s spear.

Books 21 – 25  =   4 hrs. see conclusion.  ( long pages about funeral games…skimmed)


Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Uncategorized


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