John E. Riütta

Essays; Mostly About Books

A Quest Greater Than its Goal

In his introduction to this new edition of the Loeb Classical Library volume Argonautica, editor and translator William H. Race notes that of the three surviving Greek epic poems dated prior to the Roman imperial era, the work of Apollonius Rhodius has not been held in quite as high regard as the other two – namely Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Citing Longinus’ critique of the work, “Apollonius for instance, is an impeccable poet in the Argonautica … Yet would you not rather be Homer than Apollonius?” As Professor Race goes on to note that such words as”inferior,” “artificial,” “decadent,” and “pedantic” have been used by other critics over the past two centuries when considering the writings of Apollonius, it’s difficult not to think anyone would not indeed choose to be Homer. Read the rest of this entry »

Autumn in Hell

When what was left of the German leadership finally surrendered to the Allied forces in 1945, Germany was a devastated nation – politically, economically, socially, and physically. Its population, terrorized by the supporters of the cult of personality of its totalitarian leader, had already suffered over a decade of fear and privation. Then in 1945 with the destruction of the remainder of the National Socialist government the control of the nation shifted to the occupying English, American, Russian, and French forces who, in their eagerness to “de-Nazify” the country (as well as to exact punishment upon it), set in place a host of tribunals and regulations that had the result of making life for the average German citizen worse than it had even been during the war. Read the rest of this entry »