Episode 28: An Odyssey through the Classics

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Daisy Dunn, historian and biographer of Catullus and Pliny, sets our scene in ancient Rome and Greece, entertaining the Slightly Foxed team with literature of love and war, satire and myth, and amplifying echoes of the classics through the ages. We begin with Homer’s monsters and memorials of fallen men, then take a tour of the ancient world, from Catullus’ erotic poetry and Lysistrata’s sex strike to the eruption of Vesuvius and Suetonius’ lives of extraordinary emperors. In a more contemporary turn, F. Scott Fitzgerald borrows Gatsby from the Satyricon, and Mary Renault writes historical novels and lovers’ names in wine. And there’s the usual round-up of recommended reading from off the beaten track.


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Show Notes

Please find links to books, articles, and further reading listed below. The digits in brackets following each listing refer to the minute and second they are mentioned. (Episode duration: 39 minutes; 54 seconds)

Books Mentioned

We may be able to get hold of second-hand copies of the out-of-print titles listed below. Please get in touch with Jess in the Slightly Foxed office for more information.

Catullus’ Bedspread: The Life of Rome’s Most Erotic Poet, Daisy Dunn

In the Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny, Daisy Dunn

The Odyssey, Homer, translated by Emily Wilson (7:57)

The Iliad, Homer, translated by E. V. Rieu (8:08)

Homer on Life and Death, Jasper Griffin is out of print (9:02)

The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker (11:01)

Memorial, Alice Oswald (11:42)

The Last of the Wine, Mary Renault (16:37)

The Twelve Caesars, Suetonius, translated by Robert Graves (19:07)

I, Claudius, Robert Graves (21:00) 

Pompei, Robert Harris (22:15) 

The Satyricon, Petronius, translated by P. G. Walsh (23:48)

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (24:47)

Rosemary Sutcliff’s Roman and post-Roman novels, Slightly Foxed Cubs (28:19)

Candide, Voltaire (34:26)

When the Lights Go Out, Carys Bray (35:27) 

The Diary of a Provincial Lady, E. M. Delafield (37:03) 

The Emperor’s Babe, Bernadine Evaristo (37:40)

Related Slightly Foxed Articles

How Homer Taught Me to Read, Adrian Thorpe on Homer, Odyssey and Iliad, Issue 30

Hadrian to the Life, Caroline Chapman on Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian, Issue 2 (21:42)

Scaling Gibbon’s Everest, Richard Crockatt on Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Issue 68

Travels with the Father of History, Justin Marozzi on Herodotus, Histories, Issue 20

Brave Old World, Lawrence Sail on Voltaire, Candide, Issue 10 (34:26)

Other Links

Daisy Dunn

The Greek Play, Cambridge (28:27)

Gladstone’s Library (31:37)

Opening music: Preludio from Violin Partita No.3 in E Major by Bach

The Slightly Foxed Podcast is hosted by Philippa Lamb and produced by Podcastable


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Comments & Reviews

  1. Bridget Patterson says:

    How wonderful to have the classics brought so brilliantly to life. Like Daisy, I discovered Catullus when I did his poetry for A-Level Latin. I was also gripped at the time by Livy, who didn’t get a mention – but Horatius holding the bridge had us all breathless with excitement! And I studied Candide as part of my French degree; one might, on occasion, think that some politicians are distinctly Panglossian in their insistence that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds . . .

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