Inici > Ecos de la Ilíada > La Ilíada a «La taca humana», de Philip Roth

La Ilíada a «La taca humana», de Philip Roth

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“…valdria més que no oblidàrem mai els mites, que no oblidàrem la nostra part elevada al nivell dels olímpics o controlada, inspirada, pels déus antics. Per cert, inspiració vol dir ‘algú que inspira, que envia el seu alè’ : i era reconfortant, a l’inici de La taca humana (del film i de l’esplèndida novel·la de Roth), veure el vell professor escrivint a la pissarra el primer vers de la Ilíada en grec: «Menin théa, Peleiadéou Akhilléos…» (‘Canta, deessa, la còlera d’Aquil·les el fill de Peleu’). Perquè si la deessa no canta, poc cantarem nosaltres. […].”

Joan Francesc Mira
Déus i literatura
El Temps, 30 de desembre de 2003
(Una biblioteca en el desert, p. 99)

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The human stainIt was in the summer of 1998 that my neighbor Coleman Silk— who, before retiring two years earlier, had been a classics professor at nearby Athena College for some twenty-odd years as well as serv­ing for sixteen more as the dean of faculty—confided to me that, at the age of seventy-one, he was having an affair with a thirty-four-year-old cleaning woman who worked down at the college. Twice a week she also cleaned the rural post office, a small gray clapboard shack that looked as if it might have sheltered an Okie family from the winds of the Dust Bowl back in the 1930s and that, sitting alone and forlorn across from the gas station and the general store, flies its American flag at the junction of the two roads that mark the commercial center of this mountainside town.

[…]

philip roth

Philip Roth (Newark, USA, 1933)

Coleman had by then been at Athena almost all his academic life, an outgoing, sharp-witted, forcefully smooth big-city charmer, something of a warrior, something of an operator, hardly the pro­totypical pedantic professor of Latin and Greek (as witness the Conversational Greek and Latin Club that he started, heretically, as a young instructor). His venerable survey course in ancient Greek literature in translation—known as GHM, for Gods, Heroes, and Myth—was popular with students precisely because of everything direct, frank, and unacademically forceful in his comportment. “You know how European literature begins?” he’d ask, after having taken the roll at the first class meeting. “With a quarrel. All of Euro­pean literature springs from a fight.” And then he picked up his copy of The Iliad and read to the class the opening lines. “‘Divine Muse, sing of the ruinous wrath of Achilles… Begin where they first quarreled, Agamemnon the King of men, and great Achilles.’ And what are they quarreling about, these two violent, mighty souls? It’s as basic as a barroom brawl. They are quarreling over a woman. A girl, really. A girl stolen from her father. A girl abducted in a war. Mia kouri—that is how she is described in the poem. Mia, as in modern Greek, is the indefinite article ‘a’; kouri, or girl, evolves in modern Greek into kori, meaning daughter. Now, Agamemnon much prefers this girl to his wife, Clytemnestra. ‘Clytemnestra is not as good as she is,’ he says, ‘neither in face nor in figure.’ That puts directly enough, does it not, why he doesn’t want to give her up? When Achilles demands that Agamemnon return the girl to her father in order to assuage Apollo, the god who is murderously an­gry about the circumstances surrounding her abduction, Agamem­non refuses: he’ll agree only if Achilles gives him his girl in exchange. Thus reigniting Achilles. Adrenal Achilles: the most highly flammable of explosive wildmen any writer has ever enjoyed por­traying; especially where his prestige and his appetite are con­cerned, the most hypersensitive killing machine in the history of warfare. Celebrated Achilles: alienated and estranged by a slight to his honor. Great heroic Achilles, who, through the strength of his rage at an insult—the insult of not getting the girl—isolates him­self, positions himself defiantly outside the very society whose glo­rious protector he is and whose need of him is enormous. A quar­rel, then, a brutal quarrel over a young girl and her young body and the delights of sexual rapacity: there, for better or worse, in this of­fense against the phallic entitlement, the phallic dignity, of a power­house of a warrior prince, is how the great imaginative literature of Europe begins, and that is why, close to three thousand years later, we are going to begin there today…”

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Philip Roth
The human stain

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The human stain DVD.

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The human stainPhilip Roth

The human stain

Vintage Books

London, 2005

ISBN: 9780099282198

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