This week we’re posting the first in a series of interviews recorded earlier this month at the Classical Association conference in Reading (with special thanks to the Reading Classics Department for their help and support!).

Penelope's Confession

Following on from a panel of papers on Mikis Theodorakis: The Ancient Ideal in Contemporary Greek Music, Professor Gail Holst-Warhaft of Cornell University joined CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni to discuss her love of Greece (both ancient and modern), and to share with us  how this life-long love affair found a creative outlet in her poetry collection Penelope’s Confession (Cosmos Books, 2007). In this vodcast she talks about why she felt drawn to the Homeric heroine Penelope and to the other ancient heroines that ‘speak’ in her collection (Helen, Andromache and Clytemnestra all put in an appearance). In her poems featuring Penelope, Gail portrays a woman tired of being held up as a paragon of wifely virtue and fidelity. She offers us instead a portrait of a much more humane Penelope who questions the bareness of the life that her husband’s long absence has condemned her to because of his desire for the glory of war and the spoils of victory. Gail thus demonstrates the importance of examining the female perspective of these ancient stories. She also stresses the links between ancient and modern Greece by presenting her poetry in a bilingual edition (English and Modern Greek). Many of her poems feature a distinctly modern setting of a Greece of coffee-shops, music and wonderful landscapes of the imagination.

Click on the image below or follow this link to our YouTube channel to watch the interview!