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A Loeb Classical Library Reader

A Loeb Classical Library Reader (Loeb Classical Library), edited by Jeffrey Henderson. Oxford University Press, 2006; 234 pages; $9.95 (paperback).

FROM THE DUST JACKET:

This selection of lapidary nuggets drawn from 33 of antiquity's major authors includes poetry, dialogue, philosophical writing, history, descriptive reports, satire, and fiction -- giving a glimpse at the wide range of arts and sciences, thought and styles, of Greco-Roman culture. The selections span 12 centuries, from Homer to St. Jerome. The texts and translations are reproduced as they appear in Loeb volumes.

The Loeb Classical Library is the only existing series of books which, through original text and facing English translation, gives access to all that is important in Greek and Latin literature. A Loeb Classical Library Reader (Loeb Classical Library) offers a unique sampling of this treasure trove.

A complete list of works in the Loeb Classical library is available from Harvard University Press and at www.hup.harvard.edu/loeb .

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

Los Angeles Times: The ancient bards, the scene suggests, are out of place in the modern world, their language too stilted and gilded to be of any use. But A Loeb Classical Library Reader begs us to reconsider, begs us in the same way Homer begged for inspiration from the muses. Here are 12 centuries packed into 234 bilingual pages: Short passages extracted from all those exquisite little red and green hardbacks that only a scholar -- or an interior designer with bookshelves to fill -- ever used or needed.Until now.

Ignore the bad rap the ancients might get from traumatized former high school Greek and Latin students. Jump in. Feel the shift in energy and tone from Aristophanes on sex to Xenophon on stranded mercenaries in Babylon. It's a little like reading the sexual encounter with a piece of liver from Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint followed by a page from David McCullough's biography of John Adams. It's that same abrupt change between subjects and voices, a sense of diversity and velocity that is everywhere in this book.

The Times (London): Here you will find old friends; Odysseus planning to dangle underneath a ram as he escapes the Cyclops or Plato (this translation from 1914) reporting Socrates' last words in an Athenian jail hours before the "corrupter of the youth" drinks hemlock at the state's behest: "Socrates sat up on his couch and bent his leg and rubbed it with his hand, and while he was rubbing it, he said, 'What a strange thing, my friends, that seems to be which men call pleasure! How wonderfully it is related to that which seems to be its opposite, pain, in that they will not both come to a man at the same time, and yet if he pursues the one and captures it, he is generally obliged to take the other also, as if the two were joined together in one head...when one of them comes to anyone, the other follows after.'"

A CONVERSATION WITH THE EDITOR:

This paperback Loeb reader indeed does fit in pocket or purse. I asked Professor Henderson, the Loeb Library's editor and also editor of Aeschylus's Lysistrata, how Oxford University Press happened to put this small volume together. He said, describing the volume, "We were looking for something for the trade, something that bookstores might want to stock with other Loeb volumes, to familiarize readers with the series. The press said, 'Why don't we just publish it and sell it for a very nominal fee? Just so people don't think that it's not worth anything. And see what happens?' So far, it's been a bit of a hit among the people that like classical literature and want to know more about it."I said, "This must be a fairly new translation of Aristophanes's Lysistrata. I can't imagine young boys at prep schools with that translation in their jackets."

"The Aristophanes was done between 1998 and 2002, I believe. And, it's the first straight translation ever of the comedies. We had an earlier edition, by Benjamin Bickey Rogers, who was a very, very brilliant Victorian translator, but of course, he couldn't translate it straight. The Rogers had been in print for oh, about 75 years. Until the new one came along.

"You don't get the raucous, obscene, colloquial, sexy kinds of stuff in the older translations. It was illegal to publish a straight translation of Aristophanes until the late 1960s. When the Supreme Court decision -- the Potter-Stewart obscenity -- distinguishing artistic obscenity from pornography, there was that famous line of Justice Stewart, that he couldn't establish a 'standard differentiating the two, but I know it when I see it.'

"The Loeb Library in the 1970s began to replace some of the older translations with modern ones that could be straight translations. And there's quite a lot of sexy, classical literature, explicit classical literature that needed to be replaced in the old editions and we've been doing that along the way, as we can. It always depends upon finding the right author for these things because not everybody is a good translator, and not everybody can do the Latin, or Greek text and the English translation at the same time. We don't split the tasks. It's always the same person that does both the Latin or Greek and the English. So, sometimes it takes decades to find the right person to do one of these."

"Did you do one of these translations?"

"I did the Aristophanes. I'm going to do a couple more in the next few years, if I can find the time. We want to finish up Greek novels. There are several wonderful novels."

"I didn't know that."

"Yes. People don't know that the novel actually began among the Greeks, and we have half a dozen really good ones. They, again, are a genre that hasn't been translated, or it wasn't considered very important for classical literature for a long time. They were in the Renaissance when people imitated them to create picaresque novels and romances. But classical scholars sort of shied away from them as being trivial kinds of literature. I'm doing a volume of two of them; that'll be fun."

"Sexual activity was regarded so differently then."

"Every society has its rules and norms, and they just happen to be different in various societies. The Greeks were actually pretty prudish, except in some contexts, they did allow open expression of sexuality in some religious context and in comedies. They didn't have a sexualized culture in the same way that we do.

"It's always in service of larger themes. But it must have been all the funnier because the outlets were so restricted. I think that modern western culture is overloaded with erotic imagery in advertising and sexual situations in literature and television and films. It's just not special. Among the Greeks, twice a year, you could see comedies that had a pretty open expression of sexual situations and language, but only then."

"I was amazed to read in your translation ofLysistrata women talking on stage about their use of a six-inch dildo."

Professor Henderson laughed. "They had them. And they had a dildo maker."

"How did you learn that?"

"Well, we actually know something about that because there were not only references in comedies, but some medical writings, and bills of sales and so forth that were important. The best ones came from Hyonia. There was a certain import trade in them. The Athenians tended to like Malesian ones."

"Why were those preferred?"

"They were well made and realistic. We have a little snatch of dialogue from a lost comedy. Two wives are comparing their dildos and talking about how life-like one of them is. And the other one is saying, 'Well, nothing substitutes for the real thing when it comes right down to it."

"Of what were they made?"

"Leather. I hate to think what the Greeks would have done with plastic."

"Walt Disney."

"That's interesting. There's been a good response from readers in the Aristophanes series. We also have done all the tragic poets and we're working on fragments of those. There are a lot of quotations of lost place by the major poets and we're publishing those so that people can see what, at least poets of the plays written by Sophocles and Aeschylus, and Euripides. Because we only have a small fraction of what they wrote, but we have thousands of fragments of lost plays. And they're very hard to get at, and impossible to get at in translation. So, I think that'll be interesting.

"We generally haven't done fragmentary works in the Loeb because they're discontinuous and not read in schools and so forth, but I think they're very interesting and there's been a lot of interest now in partially preserved works of the major authors. So, we thought since no one else is doing this, we might as well do it."

"How did you come to the classics?" I asked Professor Henderson.

"An inspired teacher.

"Who was it?"

"William McCullough, at Kenyon College. I went to Kenyon; I was interested in English and science. And I'd taken years of Latin, because in those days you did, so I knew Latin pretty well. But I didn't know Greek. And when I got to Kenyon, I asked who the best teachers in the college were, and somebody mentioned Bill McCullough as one of those, and so I took his beginning Greek course. And he was."

"Is he still alive?" I asked.

"Oh, yeah. Yeah, he's retired now but he truly was an inspiring teacher. So, I got hooked on Greek and majored in classics and went on in that, instead of physics or chemistry."

"Thank God," I said.

"Well, who knows? But, I've greatly enjoyed my career as a classicist. I can't imagine doing anything else."

We talked then, again, about Professor Henderson's Loeb collection. He said, "I think students now are more interested in the everyday life of the Greeks and Romans than they were in my day. We were mainly interested in military and philosophical and historical text, and not so much social stuff.

"And now, it's kind of standard courses in college Greek curricula. The Loebs really help it. One change in my time has been that you didn't want to be seen with a Loeb because it implied that you couldn't read the Latin and Greek, and you needed crib notes, so in graduate school it was very serious to be seen with one. Certainly, you'd never take one to class with you. But now, I mean they're actually assigned as text and people think the translations from the text are good enough that they don't mind if students look at them and use them in classes. When the Loeb started out, it didn't have as scholarly a reputation as it does now.

"James Loeb wanted to make the classics available for everyone, and he thought scholars had their own resources. But he wanted to preserve all that was important in Greek and Latin literature forever, so he endowed the library so that all the volumes would always be in print."

"At what did he make his money?" I asked.

"He was a banker, a Harvard graduate in the late 19th Century and really loved the classics and a bookworm. He came from a powerful family.

"They were bankers and industrialists. And they expected their children to do something useful. So, James Loeb played his role in his family business, but, I think he would have preferred to be a scholar. But, he did his thing during his lifetime: he endowed various enterprises, including medical science, music and theater and then he did the Loeb.

"Early on, old headmasters and various talented amateurs would do the translations. They were okay. Those guys could write, even if they weren't the greatest scholars, they were excellent writers and the translations were good enough for the ordinary reader. And they just used standard Greek and Latin text. Not the first editions. So, the Loebs were considered for everyday readers and not scholarly reliable. And so, students and graduate students that used them were thought to be using unreliable editions from the point of view of critical scholarship. But, as I say, since the '70s, we've been redoing a lot of the volumes and certainly when we do the new volumes, we get both revisions and new volumes, using the top scholars in their fields. And we want them to do fresh editions of the Greek and Latin text too. So, the volumes that have come out, new and revised for the last 35 years, are excellent scholarly tools. And, in some cases, they're the best editions available."

"I thought that it was interesting that somewhere in the publicity material they talked about the Loebs having decorative appeal."

"We have had orders, for the entire sets for interior decorating purposes," the professor said. Martha Stewart, for instance, has the entire set. In her magazine a few years ago, they were featured in her daughter's kitchen. There was a section of built-in bookcases in the kitchen with the green Greek Loebs in it, as a decorative touch, and on the end along with all these mixers and coffee makers and ovens and things, there was the Loeb Classical Library. Martin Scorsese bought a set.

"They are attractive. They're an unusual size. James Loeb wanted them to be a size that a gentleman could carry in his coat pocket."

"When people wore Norfolk jackets."

"That's why they are of a rather modest size," said the professor. "And, Loeb insisted in his bequest, that they be that size and he designed the volumes as they are today. And they've always been that way. He endowed the library so that the Loeb volumes would always be in print and available at a modest cost. They're very nice volumes. They're all the same price and we try to keep that price as low as possible. They come, you know, in red or green cloth and green or red dust jackets, and they look rather nice all together in a bookcase. All Greek texts have green jackets, and all Latin texts have red jackets."

I asked, "Has the number of people who major in the classics gone down in the past two decades?"

"It's gone up," Professor Henderson told me.

"At Boston University, we have almost a hundred Classics majors now. There are far more than there were twenty years ago. I think there are a lot of reasons for it. In the humanities, there's been praise for critical theory and kind of non-literary enthusiasms in various departments, and that turns off students that are natural humanists because they want to read. They love to read and they love literature. So, they tend to gravitate away from English departments and other language departments toward Classics because this is real literature and very, very good literature. And, it's still taught as literature.

"There's been a great interest in the ancient world, generally. Students are intrigued by films that have classical themes, they want to know more, and students now grew up on comic books and video games, like heroes. Greek literature is full of heroes."

"And demons too," I said.

"Demons, and far-fetched adventures and mythology."

"Makes perfect sense," I said.

"Classics have been around for 2,000 years and it always has its fans. The one change that I've seen is that a lot of students that major in Classics or Greek and Latin, are double-majoring in something more practical. We have a lot of pre-med students and science majors and economics majors, and professional majors who also do Greek and Latin just for fun.

"The Loebs are really good to have because people can read the literature in good translations, and maybe get interested in it, and even if they don't ever move to the Latin and Greek, or move very much to the Latin and Greek, they can at least have it there. I've decided to take Latin, and I can now read it. I'm in a little reading group, and I correspond with a group of 80-year- olds. They read Greek literature twice a week together."

"So, a person could buy 500 of these?" I asked.

"You can buy the whole set," the Professor said. "They gave me a set.

"But you know, if I hadn't gotten a set as editor, I would have bought one anyway. They're wonderful to have around because everything is there, and all these things that you want to look up, are referenced. I used to have to run to the library to get it, but now I can just go down and pick one out of the shelf, it's still an amazing, great resource.

"I still haven't read all of them.

"On what would they have written?" I asked.

"They had paper. They used vellum for an expensive work. Papyrus was basically the paper source for the ancient world because papyrus reeds grow everywhere along the Nile, like weeds, and you can just make as much paper as you want by pressing reeds."

The professor had made paper. "It's messy but the result is fun. You can do all kinds of stuff. It's great for calligraphers; if you're a really serious calligrapher you want to make your own paper." Professor Henderson is also a calligrapher. "It is one of those things when I retire I plan to get back to, big time. That and watercolors.

"I did actually make papyrus in a class, just so we could get an idea of what kind of paper ancient paper was, and how it was made. It is an exceedingly labor intensive process. You craft-hatch it, lay it in a kind of grid, and then you have to pound it, and the sap inside is spread out, and holds the paper together and gives it texture. And then you finish it, and it's very sturdy stuff. It's not that hard to make, but you couldn't really automate the process, I don't think."

I asked the professor if he had any final words.

"I hope that the Reader manages to entice people that don't know about classics to pick this up and get intrigued and pursue this stuff. I think there's always a lesson in historical perspective, knowing about the past and what makes classical literature so good for this, not only is it good literature in itself, but the Greeks and Romans articulated things about the world so clearly that it's really compelling. It's not just that it's old, it's really a mirror on the world."

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A Loeb Classical Library Reader (Loeb Classical Library), edited by Jeffrey Henderson. Oxford University Press, 2006; 234 pages; $9.95 (paperback).

FROM THE DUST JACKET:

This selection of lapidary nuggets drawn from 33 of antiquity's major authors includes poetry, dialogue, philosophical writing, history, descriptive reports, satire, and fiction -- giving a glimpse at the wide range of arts and sciences, thought and styles, of Greco-Roman culture. The selections span 12 centuries, from Homer to St. Jerome. The texts and translations are reproduced as they appear in Loeb volumes.

The Loeb Classical Library is the only existing series of books which, through original text and facing English translation, gives access to all that is important in Greek and Latin literature. A Loeb Classical Library Reader (Loeb Classical Library) offers a unique sampling of this treasure trove.

A complete list of works in the Loeb Classical library is available from Harvard University Press and at www.hup.harvard.edu/loeb .

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

Los Angeles Times: The ancient bards, the scene suggests, are out of place in the modern world, their language too stilted and gilded to be of any use. But A Loeb Classical Library Reader begs us to reconsider, begs us in the same way Homer begged for inspiration from the muses. Here are 12 centuries packed into 234 bilingual pages: Short passages extracted from all those exquisite little red and green hardbacks that only a scholar -- or an interior designer with bookshelves to fill -- ever used or needed.Until now.

Ignore the bad rap the ancients might get from traumatized former high school Greek and Latin students. Jump in. Feel the shift in energy and tone from Aristophanes on sex to Xenophon on stranded mercenaries in Babylon. It's a little like reading the sexual encounter with a piece of liver from Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint followed by a page from David McCullough's biography of John Adams. It's that same abrupt change between subjects and voices, a sense of diversity and velocity that is everywhere in this book.

The Times (London): Here you will find old friends; Odysseus planning to dangle underneath a ram as he escapes the Cyclops or Plato (this translation from 1914) reporting Socrates' last words in an Athenian jail hours before the "corrupter of the youth" drinks hemlock at the state's behest: "Socrates sat up on his couch and bent his leg and rubbed it with his hand, and while he was rubbing it, he said, 'What a strange thing, my friends, that seems to be which men call pleasure! How wonderfully it is related to that which seems to be its opposite, pain, in that they will not both come to a man at the same time, and yet if he pursues the one and captures it, he is generally obliged to take the other also, as if the two were joined together in one head...when one of them comes to anyone, the other follows after.'"

A CONVERSATION WITH THE EDITOR:

This paperback Loeb reader indeed does fit in pocket or purse. I asked Professor Henderson, the Loeb Library's editor and also editor of Aeschylus's Lysistrata, how Oxford University Press happened to put this small volume together. He said, describing the volume, "We were looking for something for the trade, something that bookstores might want to stock with other Loeb volumes, to familiarize readers with the series. The press said, 'Why don't we just publish it and sell it for a very nominal fee? Just so people don't think that it's not worth anything. And see what happens?' So far, it's been a bit of a hit among the people that like classical literature and want to know more about it."I said, "This must be a fairly new translation of Aristophanes's Lysistrata. I can't imagine young boys at prep schools with that translation in their jackets."

"The Aristophanes was done between 1998 and 2002, I believe. And, it's the first straight translation ever of the comedies. We had an earlier edition, by Benjamin Bickey Rogers, who was a very, very brilliant Victorian translator, but of course, he couldn't translate it straight. The Rogers had been in print for oh, about 75 years. Until the new one came along.

"You don't get the raucous, obscene, colloquial, sexy kinds of stuff in the older translations. It was illegal to publish a straight translation of Aristophanes until the late 1960s. When the Supreme Court decision -- the Potter-Stewart obscenity -- distinguishing artistic obscenity from pornography, there was that famous line of Justice Stewart, that he couldn't establish a 'standard differentiating the two, but I know it when I see it.'

"The Loeb Library in the 1970s began to replace some of the older translations with modern ones that could be straight translations. And there's quite a lot of sexy, classical literature, explicit classical literature that needed to be replaced in the old editions and we've been doing that along the way, as we can. It always depends upon finding the right author for these things because not everybody is a good translator, and not everybody can do the Latin, or Greek text and the English translation at the same time. We don't split the tasks. It's always the same person that does both the Latin or Greek and the English. So, sometimes it takes decades to find the right person to do one of these."

"Did you do one of these translations?"

"I did the Aristophanes. I'm going to do a couple more in the next few years, if I can find the time. We want to finish up Greek novels. There are several wonderful novels."

"I didn't know that."

"Yes. People don't know that the novel actually began among the Greeks, and we have half a dozen really good ones. They, again, are a genre that hasn't been translated, or it wasn't considered very important for classical literature for a long time. They were in the Renaissance when people imitated them to create picaresque novels and romances. But classical scholars sort of shied away from them as being trivial kinds of literature. I'm doing a volume of two of them; that'll be fun."

"Sexual activity was regarded so differently then."

"Every society has its rules and norms, and they just happen to be different in various societies. The Greeks were actually pretty prudish, except in some contexts, they did allow open expression of sexuality in some religious context and in comedies. They didn't have a sexualized culture in the same way that we do.

"It's always in service of larger themes. But it must have been all the funnier because the outlets were so restricted. I think that modern western culture is overloaded with erotic imagery in advertising and sexual situations in literature and television and films. It's just not special. Among the Greeks, twice a year, you could see comedies that had a pretty open expression of sexual situations and language, but only then."

"I was amazed to read in your translation ofLysistrata women talking on stage about their use of a six-inch dildo."

Professor Henderson laughed. "They had them. And they had a dildo maker."

"How did you learn that?"

"Well, we actually know something about that because there were not only references in comedies, but some medical writings, and bills of sales and so forth that were important. The best ones came from Hyonia. There was a certain import trade in them. The Athenians tended to like Malesian ones."

"Why were those preferred?"

"They were well made and realistic. We have a little snatch of dialogue from a lost comedy. Two wives are comparing their dildos and talking about how life-like one of them is. And the other one is saying, 'Well, nothing substitutes for the real thing when it comes right down to it."

"Of what were they made?"

"Leather. I hate to think what the Greeks would have done with plastic."

"Walt Disney."

"That's interesting. There's been a good response from readers in the Aristophanes series. We also have done all the tragic poets and we're working on fragments of those. There are a lot of quotations of lost place by the major poets and we're publishing those so that people can see what, at least poets of the plays written by Sophocles and Aeschylus, and Euripides. Because we only have a small fraction of what they wrote, but we have thousands of fragments of lost plays. And they're very hard to get at, and impossible to get at in translation. So, I think that'll be interesting.

"We generally haven't done fragmentary works in the Loeb because they're discontinuous and not read in schools and so forth, but I think they're very interesting and there's been a lot of interest now in partially preserved works of the major authors. So, we thought since no one else is doing this, we might as well do it."

"How did you come to the classics?" I asked Professor Henderson.

"An inspired teacher.

"Who was it?"

"William McCullough, at Kenyon College. I went to Kenyon; I was interested in English and science. And I'd taken years of Latin, because in those days you did, so I knew Latin pretty well. But I didn't know Greek. And when I got to Kenyon, I asked who the best teachers in the college were, and somebody mentioned Bill McCullough as one of those, and so I took his beginning Greek course. And he was."

"Is he still alive?" I asked.

"Oh, yeah. Yeah, he's retired now but he truly was an inspiring teacher. So, I got hooked on Greek and majored in classics and went on in that, instead of physics or chemistry."

"Thank God," I said.

"Well, who knows? But, I've greatly enjoyed my career as a classicist. I can't imagine doing anything else."

We talked then, again, about Professor Henderson's Loeb collection. He said, "I think students now are more interested in the everyday life of the Greeks and Romans than they were in my day. We were mainly interested in military and philosophical and historical text, and not so much social stuff.

"And now, it's kind of standard courses in college Greek curricula. The Loebs really help it. One change in my time has been that you didn't want to be seen with a Loeb because it implied that you couldn't read the Latin and Greek, and you needed crib notes, so in graduate school it was very serious to be seen with one. Certainly, you'd never take one to class with you. But now, I mean they're actually assigned as text and people think the translations from the text are good enough that they don't mind if students look at them and use them in classes. When the Loeb started out, it didn't have as scholarly a reputation as it does now.

"James Loeb wanted to make the classics available for everyone, and he thought scholars had their own resources. But he wanted to preserve all that was important in Greek and Latin literature forever, so he endowed the library so that all the volumes would always be in print."

"At what did he make his money?" I asked.

"He was a banker, a Harvard graduate in the late 19th Century and really loved the classics and a bookworm. He came from a powerful family.

"They were bankers and industrialists. And they expected their children to do something useful. So, James Loeb played his role in his family business, but, I think he would have preferred to be a scholar. But, he did his thing during his lifetime: he endowed various enterprises, including medical science, music and theater and then he did the Loeb.

"Early on, old headmasters and various talented amateurs would do the translations. They were okay. Those guys could write, even if they weren't the greatest scholars, they were excellent writers and the translations were good enough for the ordinary reader. And they just used standard Greek and Latin text. Not the first editions. So, the Loebs were considered for everyday readers and not scholarly reliable. And so, students and graduate students that used them were thought to be using unreliable editions from the point of view of critical scholarship. But, as I say, since the '70s, we've been redoing a lot of the volumes and certainly when we do the new volumes, we get both revisions and new volumes, using the top scholars in their fields. And we want them to do fresh editions of the Greek and Latin text too. So, the volumes that have come out, new and revised for the last 35 years, are excellent scholarly tools. And, in some cases, they're the best editions available."

"I thought that it was interesting that somewhere in the publicity material they talked about the Loebs having decorative appeal."

"We have had orders, for the entire sets for interior decorating purposes," the professor said. Martha Stewart, for instance, has the entire set. In her magazine a few years ago, they were featured in her daughter's kitchen. There was a section of built-in bookcases in the kitchen with the green Greek Loebs in it, as a decorative touch, and on the end along with all these mixers and coffee makers and ovens and things, there was the Loeb Classical Library. Martin Scorsese bought a set.

"They are attractive. They're an unusual size. James Loeb wanted them to be a size that a gentleman could carry in his coat pocket."

"When people wore Norfolk jackets."

"That's why they are of a rather modest size," said the professor. "And, Loeb insisted in his bequest, that they be that size and he designed the volumes as they are today. And they've always been that way. He endowed the library so that the Loeb volumes would always be in print and available at a modest cost. They're very nice volumes. They're all the same price and we try to keep that price as low as possible. They come, you know, in red or green cloth and green or red dust jackets, and they look rather nice all together in a bookcase. All Greek texts have green jackets, and all Latin texts have red jackets."

I asked, "Has the number of people who major in the classics gone down in the past two decades?"

"It's gone up," Professor Henderson told me.

"At Boston University, we have almost a hundred Classics majors now. There are far more than there were twenty years ago. I think there are a lot of reasons for it. In the humanities, there's been praise for critical theory and kind of non-literary enthusiasms in various departments, and that turns off students that are natural humanists because they want to read. They love to read and they love literature. So, they tend to gravitate away from English departments and other language departments toward Classics because this is real literature and very, very good literature. And, it's still taught as literature.

"There's been a great interest in the ancient world, generally. Students are intrigued by films that have classical themes, they want to know more, and students now grew up on comic books and video games, like heroes. Greek literature is full of heroes."

"And demons too," I said.

"Demons, and far-fetched adventures and mythology."

"Makes perfect sense," I said.

"Classics have been around for 2,000 years and it always has its fans. The one change that I've seen is that a lot of students that major in Classics or Greek and Latin, are double-majoring in something more practical. We have a lot of pre-med students and science majors and economics majors, and professional majors who also do Greek and Latin just for fun.

"The Loebs are really good to have because people can read the literature in good translations, and maybe get interested in it, and even if they don't ever move to the Latin and Greek, or move very much to the Latin and Greek, they can at least have it there. I've decided to take Latin, and I can now read it. I'm in a little reading group, and I correspond with a group of 80-year- olds. They read Greek literature twice a week together."

"So, a person could buy 500 of these?" I asked.

"You can buy the whole set," the Professor said. "They gave me a set.

"But you know, if I hadn't gotten a set as editor, I would have bought one anyway. They're wonderful to have around because everything is there, and all these things that you want to look up, are referenced. I used to have to run to the library to get it, but now I can just go down and pick one out of the shelf, it's still an amazing, great resource.

"I still haven't read all of them.

"On what would they have written?" I asked.

"They had paper. They used vellum for an expensive work. Papyrus was basically the paper source for the ancient world because papyrus reeds grow everywhere along the Nile, like weeds, and you can just make as much paper as you want by pressing reeds."

The professor had made paper. "It's messy but the result is fun. You can do all kinds of stuff. It's great for calligraphers; if you're a really serious calligrapher you want to make your own paper." Professor Henderson is also a calligrapher. "It is one of those things when I retire I plan to get back to, big time. That and watercolors.

"I did actually make papyrus in a class, just so we could get an idea of what kind of paper ancient paper was, and how it was made. It is an exceedingly labor intensive process. You craft-hatch it, lay it in a kind of grid, and then you have to pound it, and the sap inside is spread out, and holds the paper together and gives it texture. And then you finish it, and it's very sturdy stuff. It's not that hard to make, but you couldn't really automate the process, I don't think."

I asked the professor if he had any final words.

"I hope that the Reader manages to entice people that don't know about classics to pick this up and get intrigued and pursue this stuff. I think there's always a lesson in historical perspective, knowing about the past and what makes classical literature so good for this, not only is it good literature in itself, but the Greeks and Romans articulated things about the world so clearly that it's really compelling. It's not just that it's old, it's really a mirror on the world."

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