June 11

Amber pages

Today in 1184 BCE: Greeks seize Troy; Menelaus insists "Helen is fine, and mine, and coming home soon". 

This the headline anyway, and this the subject of Homer's "Iliad", the founding work of European literature, long before Dante, which usually gets that attribution... But wait a minute, calling it "literature", comparing it with Dante... doesn't that suggest that Homer made the story up, that it isn't "authentic history"? And was that changed by the discovery of an authentic city of Troy, by Heinreich Schliemann, in 1868?

Ben Jonson, English poet and dramatist, Shakespeare's drinking partner ("
True happiness," he once wrote, "consists not in the multitude of friends, but in the worth and choice"), born today in 1572.

John Constable, English landscape painter, born today in 1776 - for my piece on the "other and better" Hay Wain, click here

Richard Georg Strauss, German composer, born today in 1864

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