Not ordinarily a New Year’s resolutions kind of girl, I’m making an exception this year and resolving to slow down a bit in 2018. Chasing Helen in Egypt last summer was followed by sweating all fall while renovating our farm in South Carolina. My only compensation for the back-breaking work was deliciously savoring every page of my new beautiful hardbound museum exhibition catalog of Peter Paul Rubens: “The Life of Achilles.”
Now, sick with the flu and sipping hot ginger tea with honey that my beloved but equally sick husband so kindly prepared for me, I am nevertheless happy to be back in my cozy little home and catching up on all things Achilles.
Spotlighting Achilles’ Terrifying Cry of Grief
Slowing down seems to be rather unavoidable at the moment, so I’m taking this opportunity to share Tom Hillman’s excellent post spotlighting that dramatic moment when Achilles’ terrifying cry of grief rends the Trojan sky.
Tom first contacted me on Twitter (follow him @alas_not_me) about using my Shield of Achilles on his post, but I had just left for Egypt and half a year got away from me. Now, what a pleasure it is to visit his blog and get to know him better – it seems we have much in common.
Tom writes on his blog, Alas not me, that his ancestors are primarily from Ireland and Germany, and that he is happy to be a native New Yorker.
Although my parents are also from NY, and from primarily Irish and German roots, you won’t need to share ancestors to appreciate Tom’s captivating family story:
… it’s a fair sign of change that eventually one of the Irish Catholics married one of the German Protestants, and no one disowned anyone. Among Tom’s ancestors were: a Canadian who fought in the US Civil War because he believed all men were created equal; teamsters who listened to Eugene Debs speak in Union Square before the Great War and who delivered Dutch Schultz’s milk after they came back; a saloon-keeper who went underground with Prohibition; police officers, teachers, nurses, a jobbing Broadway actor; and a heartbroken, homesick grandmother who decided to go home to Ireland, but met a charming, dapper, dancing fellow on the ship, who kept visiting her in Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan, all the way from Co. Wicklow — quite a journey in those days — and wooed her back to New York.
Growing up on stories and languages, as Tom notes, “New York was and is all about stories and languages,” he credits his family for starting him on his lifelong journey of studying Latin, Greek, and a few other languages, most recently Old English.
Mourning The Needless and Unexpected Violent Death
Compassionately mourning the “needless and unexpected violent death of one we love,” Tom sees Achilles’ wrath over Patroklos’ death as a justifiable cause that “even we these days can grasp fully.”
It is this enduring power of ancient words to captivate the modern imagination that so enchants me. Time has little value in a world ruled by emotions – over and over again, across countless generations, it feels like Patroklos died just now.
Achilles … terrifies us with his violent shouting
Originally published on Alas, not me
By Tom Hillman
Achilles Over the Trench
Please take a vacation by visiting Tom’s enchanting website, Alas, not me. As he declares and I totally agree, “All literature enchants and delights us, recovers us from the 10,000 things that distract us. The unenchanted life is not worth living.”
(Top Image Source and credits)