Over the weekend I visited my local art museum to see an exhibit of ancient Greek artifacts called Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult and Daily life, which was excellent. I happened to arrive just as a tour was beginning. It's amazing how much more you can get out of an exhibit to hear the museum docent talk about the art. I enjoyed it so much I couldn't resist buying the exhibit catalog. The essays in it look really interesting, plus there are loads of photos not just of the pieces included in the exhibit but also of where they would have been found and how they would have been used.
This is my favorite piece. It is a Black-Figure Lekythos: Octopus and three dolphins, flanked by kneeling man and youth, Sphinx between youths. Greek, Attic, ca 540-530 BC. It's smallish, only 17 cm. tall. I think it would have been used for oil or for garum perhaps? Garum was hugely popular with the Greeks--it is a fermented fish sauce--fish being the staple in the Greek diet. (Garum doesn't sound all that tempting to me, but I guess it was very healthy and protein-rich.
I also love this vase, Black-Figure, White-Ground Hydria (Kalpsis): Theseus slaying the Minotaur, Greek, Attic ca. 490-480 BC, 20 cm. The docent talked about the myth it depicts, which I remember from my own reading a couple of years ago. It certainly brings literature and Mythology to life--very cool to see something someone made and used thousands of years ago.
I was tempted by other books in the museum gift shop, but I contented myself with writing down titles and then ordering them online with a gift card. I now have Mary Renault's The King Must Die and The Library of Greek Mythology by Apollodorus winging their way to me. The former is a retelling of the Theseus myth and the latter is a work from Classical Antiquity, which is a sourcebook of Greek Mythology--and hopefully won't be too hard going--I'm not sure I have ever read anything that old.
I'm very excited about my finds and the exhibit catalog. I plan on going back through the exhibit again a few times as it will be here through May. If nothing else than to visit my little Octopus vase. Reading the essays in the catalog, too, will make my visits much richer and shed more light on what I am seeing. Somehow this makes me feel a little nerdish, but in a good way.
Poseidon was interesting, but snow? Not so much. I don't have a very nice view outside my window. My neighborhood is pretty shabby really. I would have gone in search of something more appealing to look at, but it was just too cold. Although we didn't get as much snow as was forecast (thank goodness for small favors), we have not escaped the cold.
Here's a view outside another window. I assure you there really is a view! But you wouldn't know that as it is so cold the window (facing northwest) is completely frosted over. Brr. I only left the house to drop recyclables into their bin yesterday. I wish I could show you something prettier. And maybe green. I don't know about you, but I am tired of grey, dreary days. Someday soon I am going to buy myself a pot of tulips.
Here is a much more satisfying photo. I stayed inside for much of the weekend. After my museum visit I played the homebody and actually it was sort of nice. I did lots of reading. Short stories, a few books from my night table pile, and even started an ARE that I think is going to be a very good read. The New York Review of Books and TLS both had lots of good articles--newly discovered works by Katherine Mansfield, works by Fay Weldon (high on my list of authors to try), Scottish Independence (am very interested in this but have heard not read much about it in the blogosphere), an essay by Michael Dirda, retellings or books about One Thousand and One Nights (a book I really want to read someday) . . . I love both newspapers and wish I had more time to devote to reading them cover to cover--mostly I just cherry pick the articles that looks most interesting and do lots of skimming otherwise. I usually can't bear to recycle them (until the piles get too cumbersome).
And then there are always new books. Is it possible to think about books too much? I probably do so. I think about what I've finished reading, what I have going, and what I want to read soon. As a matter of fact it is a continuous migration of books in my house. From bookshelf or bookpile to nightstand, kitchen table, desk where my computer sits . . . sometimes a book gets slipped into my bookbag to accompany me to work. Not sure which new books I might start this week, but I always have a mental list going. Since it is March I want to read something "Irish" and as Margaret Atwood is coming to Omaha next month I should really read something by her in anticipation. It's weekend like this one that make Mondays so bearable!