Philip S. Peek
Associate Professor, Ancient Greek, Latin, Classical Cultures; Bowling Green State University
Of late my energies have focused on the historian Herodotus. I recently published a textual commentary on book five of his Histories (U of O Press, 2018). The commentary offers readers, among other things, narratological parsing that enables them to see the dialectic Herodotus creates with the various audiences of his text. This February I presented a conference paper on Herodotus and Greek identity at the Historical Fictions conference in Manchester. This May I will be presenting a paper, “Herodotus’ Margins,” at the International Conference on Narrative in Pamplona, Spain. I enjoy researching, translating, and writing about all things ancient Greek.
The International Society for the Study of Narrative
30 May - 1 June 2019
The neuroplastic brain evolved in ambulatory beings who ranged around the world, always having to explore unknown territories. In other words, the brain evolved to learn (Doidge, Brain’s Way of Healing, 2015).
In the Brain’s Way of Healing Dr. Norman Doidge writes that central vision blinds one to the margins where danger and opportunity lie. The margins play a critical role to the health and plasticity of our brains. Likewise Herodotus gives them a central, though disputed, role in the western world’s first attempt at offering a historical account focused on the time period of 560-479/78 B.C.E., when the Greeks found themselves at odds with barbarians and eventually with a foreign empire ruling some 40% of the world’s population.
Writing in about 450 BCE, using a mixed Ionic dialect, and born on the near margins of Greece in a land inhabited by Dorian and Carian races, Herodotus, a Greek, wrote a prose account that researched why the Greeks and barbarians fought and also researched the lands and people living on the margins far and farther from his own city of Halikarnassos and country, Hellas. These lands, inhabited by the other, captivated the curious and capacious intellect of a thinker born to explore the unknown. In travelling and obtaining and verifying the many data points of what was to become his life’s work, the Histories or Researches, Ηerodotus sought information that challenged his audiences’ beliefs and perceptions, asking them to think and perceive in unfamiliar ways. His emphasis on the margins gave context and insight to his main narrative thread, the why of the fighting between barbarian and Greek. This peripheral focus did not lead him to the truth but rather to the creation of a dialectic designed to destabilize the neat and tidy mindset of his contemporary audience.
Translations and Books
by Philip S. Peek
Meleagros of Gadara
From Gadara and self-identified as a Greek and Syrian, Meleagros was educated in Tyre and retired in later life to Cos. He wrote short polished poetry concerned with personal experience and emotions, which he likened in their intricacies to small flowers. He put together an anthology, Στέφανος, now lost, of poems by forty-six Greek poets, including 134 poems of his own. Of his poems on love and beauty, homo and hetero, 134 survive. He also wrote satirical prose essays, now also lost.
Εἰνόδιον στείχοντα μεσαμβρινὸν εἶδον Ἄλεξιν,
ἄρτι κόμαν καρπῶν κειρομένου θέρεος.
διπλαῖ δ᾽ ἀκτῖνές με κατέφλεγον: αἱ μὲν Ἔρωτος,
παιδὸς ἀπ᾽ ὀφθαλμῶν, αἱ δὲ παρ᾽ ἠελίου.
ἀλλ᾽ ἃς μὲν νὺξ αὖθις ἐκοίμισεν ἃς δ᾽ ἐν ὀνείροις
εἴδωλον μορφῆς μᾶλλον ἀνεφλόγισεν.
λυσίπονος δ᾽ ἑτέροις ἐπ᾽ ἐμοὶ πόνον ὕπνος ἔτευξεν
ἔμπνουν πῦρ ψυχῇ κάλλος ἀπεικονίσας.
I saw, strolling down the road at midday, Alexis,
As summer trimmed the locks of its falling fruits.
Twin rays of fire pierced my skin: Love’s
From the lad’s eyes and the other the sun’s.
Night returned to rest the one; the second turned
Again a flame, fiercer now. His image burnt
In my dreams; sleep, hurt's balm, instead chiseling
His beauty in me, a fire alive in my soul.
(for Sarah Ash's Scent of Lilies, Manifold Press, April 2019;
also forthcoming in METAMORPHOSES, Fall 2019 issue)
Ancient Greek and Classical Culture Courses
Ancient Greek, Elementary Level
Learn the basics of reading and translating ancient Greek.
Ancient Greek, Intermediate Level
Learn how to read and translate original ancient Greek texts.
Learn how to interpret ancient and modern myths, movies, and narratives of all types.
Great Greek Minds
Participate in a 2,700 year dialectic, by reading and interpreting the great works of the ancient Greeks.
PS Peek, University of Oklahoma Press, 2018
Latomus 63 (Fasc. 3), 605-614, 2004
Antichthon 37, 32-51, 2003
Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 43 (4), 309-339, 2003
Acta Classica: Proceedings of the Classical Assoc. of South Africa 45, 2002
Ramus 30 (2), 128-151, 2001
American Journal of Philology 118 (3), 363-370, 1997
PS Peek, 1996