Greek Lit: Week 1
On August 23rd, we had our first class, and boy, was a good introduction to the course. Professor Sandridge proved to be everything is RateMyProfessor grade made him out to be. He began the class by shaking the hand of every student then began to play this guitar he had brought with him. He introduced us to the Life Great Stories and opened us up to the concepts that we are all creating something beautiful and that one day, our story can be told to others. He kept it fun and interesting by constantly relating topics back to what was going on in our world today as well as what might be going on with us.
He assigned us to read the first book of Homer’s Iliad to read by the second class. The language in the epic was dense but bearable. I read the story on my hour trip to and from work on the train, when I actually have a few minutes to myself. The questions posed were ones of importance to the main characters of the epic. What was most important to Achilles and Agamemnon and why. Well, what was most important to Agamemnon stayed consistent. Agamemnon was the king of men, who ruled with an iron fist. In other words, it was his way or the highway. The thing that was most important to him was what he saw as a prize, Chryseis. Chryseis is the daughter of a priest, Chryse, who was highly favored by the God, Apollo. When Chryseis was not returned to the priest in exchange for the ransom he offered, Apollo released a plague onto the Achaians. At first, what seemed most important to Achilles was the lives of his people. He tried to understand why Apollo was so upset and once he figured it out, he urged Agamemnon to release the girl in order to spare the lives of the Achaians. This quickly because an issue of pride between the two. Agamemnon refused and then threatened to take Achilles’ prize, Briesis if he were to try to take Chryseis from him. Even though Achilles mad no attempt to do so, Agamemnon, being as spiteful as he is, took Briesis from Achilles. This then revealed what was truly important to him, his honor and her.
While reading the first book you can tell exactly what kind of men these two were, but in our next, class we looked a little more in depth. We discussed specific things about each of them that spoke to who they were. Achilles is what is consider to be a demigod, his mother being the Goddess, Thetis. Achilles is a warrior and fights for his honor and legacy. Professor Sandridge pointed out that Achilles was given the option to live a long, mundane life as a prince or a short, heroic life as a warrior, which would bring him great honor. Obviously Achilles chose the latter. Agamemnon how ever, is a king of kings. He commands a large amount of the Greek lands, giving him unimaginable power and control. Due to his status, he believes that whatever he wants, he should have, and anyone that questions his authority will have to bare the weight of his anger.
As we continued to discuss these two men and what was most important to them, the topic of the ransom that was offered was brought up. Chryse brought a ransom of countless riches to Agamemnon in exchange for his daughter but Agamemnon refused it. This sparked the question of, “what is a person worth?” Well, that question is completely relative to the person being asked. Everyone in this world goes through different obstacles and have different finish lines, causing a lot of us to think differently. On our first day of class, I shared part of one of my Great Stories. At the age of 14, three of my best friends passed away in a year’s time span. This changed me and shaped the way I viewed the world and everyone in it. The value I place on the people in my life grew tenfold, but that may not be the same for everyone, as we came to learn of each other in class. The question posed is completely relative to the mindset of the person being asked. I discussed the value of people with my mother, who has also lost people near and dear to her at a young age. I asked her what determines their value to her or to the world, and her answer was the light that they emit. The soul of a person is often referred to as a light. A person who cares for others and genuinely tries to do good, has a bright her light. So the brighter this light burns, the more valuable this person is. But, again, that is relative because there’s no way to see the light in the people we do not know. Even in class, some good points were made but it all circled back to the notion that there is no real way to place a definite value on the life of a person. Only you can determine the value of someone to yourself.
Over the weekend, we were assigned to read books 2–4. Between Thursday and Sunday, I spent all my time at work, but, read on my hour and a half trips to and from Tysons on the train. I began to understand the real power the Gods of Olympus had over these people and the things they could do to promote the things they wanted most. We were also assigned to go to the National Mall and visit works of art that spoke to the nature of love. Because of my commitment to work, I was unable to go this past weekend, but I can vividly recall all the times I’ve been to the mall and seen things that reminded me of love. The very first thing I would have visited would have been the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, which I often visit every time I find myself at the monuments. When I was 16 and battling with one of my Great Stories, I got a MLK quote inscribed onto my arm to help me get through some of my life problems, which gave me a deeper connection to him. The reason why I would’ve chose this memorial is because Dr. King was a man of peace and love at his core. He understood that the only way for white people and people of color to coexist is for people to remove hatred from their hearts and to love one and other. Martin Luther King Jr was a symbolic representation of love. I would’ve also visited the Reflection Pool. You know the phrases “birds of a feather, flock together.” and “your soulmate is a reflection of your soul.” Why I think this symbolizes love is because the people you love the most and hold nearest are in some way a reflection (either you reflect them or they reflect you). I’m a firm believer that the energy you put out is the same that you receive. The love and energy you put out into the world is reflected back onto you and that is why I believe the Reflection Pool can be considered a symbol of love.
Class on Tuesday was a good one. We discussed the readings from the weekend, as well as the assignment of going to the National Mall. I lead part of the discussion when the floor was opened up to discuss what happened between Menelaus and Paris. The class enjoyed the way I explained it because of how I spoke. I tried to dumb it down to an extent, as well as made jokes about what was actually happening. I’m sort of a studious-class clown, although that is an oxymoron. We then discussed the assignment and the artwork that people viewed. I enjoy hearing what everyone says because everyone thinks so differently. All in all, the first week of Greek Literature was great. I learned a lot from the people in my class as well as Professor Sandridge. Let’s get started on week two.