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Olive-Tree Bed and Other Quests

Olive-Tree Bed and Other Quests

Copyright Date: 1997
  • Book Info
    Olive-Tree Bed and Other Quests
    Book Description:

    Father Lee wears his learning lightly, and his writing changes from chapter to chapter as it reflects, in turn, the clarity and naïve sense of wonder in Homer, the darkness and ambivalence in Virgil, the intuitive mysticism of Wagner, and the riotously imaginative exuberance of Goethe

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7806-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Wallace McLeod

    This is the fourth volume of the Robson Classical Lectures to reach publication. The series takes its name from Donald Oakley Robson (1905–76), who graduated in Honours Classics from Victoria College in the University of Toronto in 1928. He went on to earn his MA (1929) and his PhD (1932) from the University of Toronto. After teaching at the University of Western Ontario for seventeen years, he returned to his alma mater, and taught Latin there from 1947 until his retirement in 1975. His wife, Rhena Victoria Kendrick (1901–82), also graduated in Honours Classics from Victoria College, in 1923, with...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Questing
    (pp. 3-14)

    At the beginning of the questing book to end all questing books, the author says, not without rue, ‘Idling reader, you may believe me when I tell you that I should have liked this book, which is the child of my brain, to be the fairest, the sprightliest, and the cleverest that could be imagined; but I have not been able to contravene the law of nature which would have it that like begets like.’

    I should have liked to have written that sentence, for it says what must be said at the start of this book. (Fortunately, scholarly convention...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Olive-Tree Bed
    (pp. 15-40)

    ‘Hush’ says the father to his son as they both near the completion of their quests. ‘The Olympians have ways of their own. Off to bed now.’

    Homer'sOdysseyis, among many other things, the best of all bedside books. A significant part of it, Books 9 to 12, comprises tales you likely first heard in childhood, perhaps as your mother or father put you to sleep. And Books 13 to 24, the last half of theOdyssey, tell a tale in which revelations seem to pass freely from one pillow to another. Homer's poem is about a very wide-awake...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Golden Bough
    (pp. 41-69)

    The cave of the Sibyl at Cumae, destroyed by Byzantine and Saracen armies, abandoned for a thousand years, and unearthed by Amedeo Maiuri only in 1932, is one archaeological site that does not disappoint the traveller, though a casual reader of Virgil might be led to expect something different from what can actually be seen at Cumae today.¹ Virgil says, near the beginning of Book 6 of theAeneid:

    Into the massive flank of the rock was carved a cave. A hundred wide entrances and a hundred doors lead into it, and out of it rush one hundred voices – the...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The Holy Grail
    (pp. 70-96)

    We come now to the quest of our third hero, Parsifal, and to a creative artist, Richard Wagner, of whom we know much more than we know of the elusive Homer and the reclusive Virgil. In fact, for the last twelve years of Wagner’s life, we know what he was doing and thinking almost from minute to minute (we even know what he was dreaming from night to night), for all of this was recorded in the diaries of his second wife, Cosima, the daughter of Franz Liszt. And we should say from the start that not everything that we...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE The Eternal Feminine
    (pp. 97-128)

    Invited by the Robson Classical Lecture committee to add a fourth, written, chapter to the three delivered orally on the quest in Homer, Virgil, and Wagner, I entertained various possibilities. Other quests in Greek and Latin literature – the mythic voyage of the Argonauts as told by Pindar and Apollonius of Rhodes, the philosophical quest for ideal justice culminating in the myth of Er in Plato'sRepublic,the comic questing of Aristophanes’ heroes for peace during the Peloponnesian war – all of these lay somewhat beyond my area of expertise. I had taught them all, but not lived with them so much...

  10. CHAPTER SIX What Ithacas Mean
    (pp. 129-136)

    In the fifth chapter ofDon Quixote,the parish priest and the village barber sentence the old quester’s knight-errant books to be burned. They hope thereby to cure the madness that made the would-be hero an anomaly in his own time and place. Even those extreme measures are not enough for Don Quixote’s niece and housekeeper. They wantallthe books in his library destroyed, ‘for they have sent to perdition the finest mind in all La Mancha.’

    Then as we turn Cervantes’s page we discover that the barber and the priest are themselves not immune to the pleasures to...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 137-160)
  12. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 161-170)
  13. Index
    (pp. 171-175)