Tag Archives: poetry

In Defense of Homer


ΙΛΙΑΣ (The Iliad)

Ἔφθυγαν (They left)

ΟΔΥΣΣΕΙΑ (The Odyssey)

Γύρισε (He returned)

– Giorgos Houliaras

Of all the articles that I have written, this may be the most contentious yet. Regardless, I cannot tolerate any more derision of this great figure: “He’s long, dull and repetitive”, “It’s just a bunch of drawn out battles and scary monsters”, “I don’t like (epic) poetry”, “He is a sexist, racist, xenophobic, warmongering, polytheistic, blind guy, who didn’t even exist!” Our own Simone la Cuercha once called one of his poems: “F***ing boring”. Poor Homer…

“But Carlos, he is boring!” Nonsense, he may not be the most accessible of “authors” but there is method to his madness. Indeed, the versions of The Iliad and The Odyssey that we possess demonstrate a highly complex and efficient lexical system designed to facilitate their oral composition and recitation. “Sounds like Greek to me, Carlos!”


Ok, I’ll try this again: Homeric poets (since the works are the product of an entire tradition, not one sole author) used easy-to-remember stock phrases and topics when orally performing the epics and improvised the rest with their lyrical prowess. This means that the poems weren’t simply thrown together at random. Every strange repetition or juxtaposition of images and ideas carries inherit meaning that contributes to the central themes of each work.

Far more than just “a bunch of drawn out battles”, The Iliad is a frank reflection on the harsh realities of war. Just like in real life, Homer’s work is full of flawed leaders, who let their egos get the better of them, tired frustrated soldiers, who just want to go home, and “independent” third parties, who constantly try to influence the events on the battlefield to further their own agendas. It begs the question: How do you find honor or valor in something as chaotic, cruel, and ultimately futile as war?

As for The Odyssey, it too is more than a straightforward adventure story with “scary monsters”. The poem is a profound examination of what it means to return home, after being separated from one’s family for a long time and having overcome life-changing hardships and frustrations. Indeed, since nothing can escape the transformative effects of time, is a true homecoming even possible?

Please! Don’t dismiss these truly sophisticated works of Western literature!

– Carlos de la Gringa


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TES Artist of the Week VI

Once upon a time, I was reading a book, a collection of short stories. I didn’t know who the author was, but the title and the cover looked promising. In the first short story, a little girl says, “I like you Bukowski. Tell me a story!”

“Well, all right. Jump here on my legs. So… There is this little girl. Alone. In a forest. With an old man…”

The mother comes over, “Bukowski!!! Hands off of my daughter, you pervert!”

All the other stories are about this author who pretends that he is constantly writing in his smoky apartment. The protagonist turns out to be a drunken womanizer, involved in the most terribly sordid love affairs with fat women, middle-aged hags and young prostitutes. This lazy guy, who find himself in the midst of all these crazy adventures, gambles on horse races and spends his money as fast as he can drink it. It soon becomes hard to believe that the “unknown” writer, Henry Chanaski, protagonist of all the stories, is anyone other than Bukowski himself.

So you’re probably wondering what’s so interesting about this guy? Well, it’s amazing how his brilliant short stories are capable of teaching the fundamental truths of everyday life through the tales of the scum of the earth.

I know that I’m a little bit late with this, but nevertheless I am pleased to present as the 6th TES Artist of the Week, American poet, novelist, and short story writer, Charles Bukowski! As an active writer during the second part of the twentieth century, Bukowski was particularly famous for his satirical poetry and his peculiar style of short stories. He rose to international fame quickly and nowadays is considered a pillar of postmodern literature. Sad as it is to say of an author of his caliber, however, he was never able to achieve the same level of recognition in his own country, most likely a result of working for underground magazines. It should also be mentioned that he was especially critical of the lingering influences of Puritanism in American society.

He has always been a great inspiration for us, here at Tales of Extraordinary Sanity, who are trying to achieve a fraction of what he did during his lifetime. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give you, Charles Bukowski!

– Simone la Cuercha 

Ed. If you would like to read some of Charles Bukowski’s writings, look here.

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