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An Anecdote about World Lit and the Oresteia.

My world lit professor is a really awesome guy. he’s young, has an eyebrow piercing, and is very laid back. Most of the class is discussion of our current work. We’re reading four books this semester, and the first is the Oresteia, which I have already read as per classics academy. Coupled with my knowledge of the Trojan War, I have a lot to say about everything that we are currently talking about. 

There is this kid. His name is Michael. He is a junior who introduced himself as a “biology major with a concentration in molecular something and chemical something”, which kind of sums up who he is. His voice is perpetually nasal, and he appears to be balding already. He grew up in Israel. He has an incredibly capability for rote memorization, and as such has a very good grasp of history. Admittedly, he knows more than I do about greek history. 

Every time he speaks, I want to die. 

Before class today, we were discussing the book as a group a little and he said that the part of the introduction we had to read was very biased toward the Athenians. (which is a true statement.) he then proceeded to say that this wasn’t really a golden age for Athens because the Spartans were the ones who won the Persian War. I asked him why he thought that. He said that the Spartans were the main forces at the battles of Thermopolae and some other battle. I replied that yeah, that’s true, but the Athenians had “this wicked-ass navy” and they were essential to the win. (They were also most of the financial backers to the war, but I didn’t remember that til later.) He began to disagree but our professor (who has encouraged us to call him Carl “because if you call me professor I probably just won’t respond, it’s too weird.”) walked in. 

When Carl asks us what we thought, Michael pipes up and says, after asking me my name again, “Meghan and I were just discussing how the Athenians are favored in the introduction and that it was their golden age when it was really Sparta that won the Persian War, even though the Athenians had the navy.” Carl says (rightly) that historians and classicists have a soft spot towards Athens because it was the cultural center of Greece. I raise my hand after that and say that, while it is clear that his knowledge of history is greater than mine, it’s not fair to say that either side wasn’t important and that they won because of their alliance (which sounds like a wishy washy point, but is really true, so). Carl attempts to use that to start talking, but Michael bursts in with a completely irrelevant point about Sparta. Carl gently funnels it back to the play by pointing out that Greece is not unified at this point, and class goes on. 

We begin to talk about the signal fires that Clytaemnestra has apparently set up to convey the news of the Trojan War’s end, and Michael points out that it’s physically impossible for it to happen, and everyone in the room is like “dude, duh, it’s a play” and Carl is like “Yeah, suspend your disbelief, it also helps with this metaphor” which he goes on to explicate and everything is good again. 

Every time he speaks I am filled with rage. 

At the end of class, he comes up to me and apologizes. I clarify that I know it’s not a personal attack. I do not apologize in any way. This sounds really sadistic, but I want him to fear me by the end of next class. I don’t want him to argue his irrelevant, oversimplified points for the rest of the semester, particularly about things that I know about. 

other than that, this was an excellent class. I couldn’t tell that the hour and a half was passing. It was a steady conversation and I learned more about subject matter that I love. I’m super looking forward to this class.

  1. meggomaheggo posted this