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Lysistrata, Aristophanes (trans. by Douglass Parker), Mentor, 1964, $0.75, 128pp.

I took a class from Parker over ten years ago during my dark days at the University of Texas at Austin. He taught a course in the Classics department called “Parageography,” which was about the geography of imaginary lands. I think it was an excuse for him to really get into the literature that he loved. It was a fun class, made all the more so because Parker allowed me to do the class project, wherein we created our own imaginary land, in hypertext (this was, obviously before the WWW, and hypertext had not gotten much play–I can’t even remember the program I used on the Mac to create it).

Parker’s claim to fame as a scholar of classics, however, was his modern translations of Aristophanes, including this famous satire on how women could stop war by withholding sex. The translation is good, but still somewhat problematic for today’s audiences–many of the assumptions of the story are based on the Greek and Trojan cultures, so a modern reader must check the notes every once and awhile to get the full nuance of the poetry. On the other hand, Parker’s goal was to not censor the ribaldry, and so there’s plenty here for an audience to realize that, even in 2,000+ years, some things really never change.

[Finished February 1999]


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