Last week, I was chatting with dcehr about Frank Miller’s 300, a comic book adaption story of the Spartan stand at Thermopylae. It veered into a discussion of Herodotus, the "father of history" (or, depending on who you ask, the "father of lies"), who records one of the great tough-guy lines of history; when Dieneces of Sparta was told that the Persians had enough archers to darken the sky, Herodotus records Dieneces cheerily responding, "Our Trachinian friend brings us excellent tidings. If the Medes darken the sun, we shall have our fight in the shade." And V. was discussing Arthur Golding, an Elizabethan Protestan who translated both Calvin and Ovid (Golding’s Ovid is the one that Shakespeare used). "But Ovid is so naughty," I cried, though after some rather self-conscious discussion we decided that he is not nearly so naughty as Catullus. Any attention to the classics is deeply abnormal for me. The above writers, plus a smattering of Plato in college and dim memories of Aeschylus, Homer, and Virgil in high school, represent basically my entire knowledge of the classics. I’m only familiar with one Eclogues. I got my Ovid largely from Ted Hughes. The Homer I can quote works at a power plant. But the confluence was clearly a sign of some sort; fortunately, the Internet has classics resources in spades. V. recommended the Silva Rhetoricae, and the Perseus Digital Library seems both broad and well-designed for beginners. I’ve been dipping into something I’ve always wanted to read, Procopius’ Secret History. Procopius, sensible enough not to publish in his lifetime, accuses Emperor Justinian of being a "fiend in human form," married to the "most depraved of all courtesans." Bob Guccione himself couldn’t find better source material to plunder; the razor-tongued ancient world makes for surprisingly light, gossipy reading. Maybe if I find this enjoyable enough, I’ll work my way back to Babylonian literature — or perhaps just Babylonian beer (link via Kathryn, who surely thinks I am a lush). Who says history is dull?