Cyropaedia

Have you guys checked out Coursera yet? If not, you definitely should. It’s a website solely devoted to providing quality online college courses from real professors from real colleges for free (you can pay for certificates if you want/need them). I’m on my second class now–a class about historical fiction called “Plagues, Witches, and War.” Sounds super interesting, right?

Because it’s a class on fiction, there’s a pretty substantial reading list, and the class is “Go At Your Own Pace.” Now, the professor told us we don’t have to read everything on the syllabus but…come on, you guys know me well enough to know I’m sure as hell gonna try. Or at least the ones I can get for free on Kindle and Google Books.

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First on the list is Cyropaedia, an ancient book written by a student of Socrates. Composed around 370 BC, it is supposedly the first historical fiction novel–a political romance.

The eight books follow Cyrus the Great of Persia from his early beginnings as a rambunctious teenager until he is old and dying. During his lifetime he builds a magnificent empire in what today is the Middle East. He did this not just by conquering nations, but by also gaining the love and trust of his people and soldiers, and thus made many allies.


Image credit:  http://syria.ewas.us/

I never quite understood the “romance” part of the book, though I’m sure it’s buried in there somewhere. However, this book is very much a war epic. I kept wondering if this was required reading at West Point or during any Officer’s Training, because if not, it should be. The military strategy discussed is probably ancient and outdated for use with our technology now, but the motivational speeches made by Cyrus and his generals are some of the most epic I’ve ever read. I did run out of steam towards the middle because of the battle descriptions, as I tend to do with this sort of thing, but otherwise, the characters are absolutely captivating.

Xenophon is not an author we hear about much (ok, at all) in the literary world today, at least for those of us average folk. Plato, Socrates, Cicero, Homer, sure. Xenophon is never mentioned. But this book was excellent, for what it was. Perhaps not to my usual tastes, but it was captivating from beginning to end.

 

Buy it here!

WWW Wednesday 1/21/2015

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What are you currently reading?

Dubliners & A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

 

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Iliad by Homer

Pearl Harbor:  FDR Leads the Nation Into War by Steven Gillon

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

 

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Some Kind of Wonderful by Barbara Freethy

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

 

We are going on vacation beginning late next week, so depending on the timeline/how quickly I’m reading/internet connection/etc…my blogging may be sporadic for a bit. Please be patient with me. I’ll be back to normal after the second week of February!

The Iliad

Well guys, I did it! I made it through my very first “Study Book!” The Iliad was first on my list for a reason–I’ve been trying to get to it since high school. I read The Odyssey as required reading, but Homer’s original epic poem never made the cut.

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I’ve always loved Greek mythology–I think it’s the basis of many of my other fascinations with old cultures. The stories are just so bizarre and interesting, and often hilarious now that I’m old enough to understand what Zeus’s swan form is actually doing. But epic poetry is just not my cup of tea, and, unfortunately…neither are war stories.

The Odyssey was interesting because it is post-war, and it is a journey. It tells of monsters and treachery, and in the end, a woman waiting at home.

The Iliad…well…Hector always has a bronze flashy shield, Ajax is Giant and Little. Zeus and Hera hate each other more than a suburban married couple. And it seems to me that Patroclus is the real hero of the story, not Achilles, but that’s me. Oh, and Menelaus really does have red hair (I always thought it was weird that they cast him with an Irish guy in the movie, but I guess it actually makes sense!).

Other than that, it was just a bunch of cocky guys fighting each other. The gods had much more of a presence than I expected, but mostly it was all battles an bloodshed, and I just didn’t care much for it.

 

And that, my friends, is my terrible interpretation of Homer’s great war epic. I can hear the academics groaning. It’s ok. I understand. I said I was going to read the list…I didn’t say I was going to enjoy it! I was going to read The Odyssey again right after this, but I think I’m going to switch to some prose for now.

 

Fulfills PopSugar #23:   book more than 100 years old

Fulfills Boxall #73

WWW Wednesday 1/14/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Iliad by Homer

King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild

 

What did you just finish reading?

Sins of the Father by Thelonious Legend

Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne

A Little Princess by Frances Hodges Burnett

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Pearl Harbor by Steven Gillon

WWW Wednesday 1/7/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Iliad by Homer

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

 

What did you just finish reading?

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Sins of the Father by Thelonious Legend (Book Tour Post will go live on January 14)

Travelling to Infinity:  My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

OK…Who made this book list anyway? Seriously, we need to liven things up a bit. Don’t be surprised if I do not follow this. YAWN!

WWW Wednesday 12/24/2014

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What are you currently reading?

The Iliad by Homer

Lock In by John Scalzi

 

What did you just finish reading?

Mission:  Impossible by Peter Borsocchini

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Group by Mary McCarthy

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

WWW Wednesday 12/17/2014

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What are you currently reading?

The Iliad by Homer

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

Backpacks and Brastraps with Savannah Grace

Before I Go  by Colleen Oakley

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Regulators by Richard Bachman

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

WWW Wednesday 12/10/2014

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What are you currently reading?

Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo

 

What did you just finish reading?

Breeder by KB Hoyle

The Suicide Index by Joan Wickersham

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

Backpacks and Brastraps by Savannah Grace

A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

I am also overdue to read The Iliad, but I am saving that until after the readathon. I’ll be hitting that up as soon as this week is over, so we’ll see how many books I get though! I keep putting it off, and I need to get to it!

WWW Wednesday 10/29/2014

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What are you currently reading?

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

 

 

What did you just finish reading?

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Greyhound by Steffan Piper

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

 

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

Fairies by Skye Alexander

The Iliad by Homer (We’ll see…I have some really huge titles on this TBL. I didn’t plan this out so well. I may have to rethink this one.)

Wars

We read The Odyssey by Homer in high school, and I remember being fascinated by Penelope. I thought her even stronger than Odysseus, though he was the manly soldier off fighting the crazy monsters on the way home. How strong she had to be, to wait so long, and then outwit the suitors who were wooing her.

I know the story of The Iliad too, of course, and I’ve seen Troy, with Brad Pitt. But I don’t think I’ve actually ever read the epic. It’s on my list, and has been forever.

My husband has these gorgeous hard paperbacks of the two epic poems, and I love to take them out and flip through them. Eventually I will sit down and tackle them, but not yet. I’m not brave enough yet.

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