By André Bastos Gurgel, OAB
I first got the idea for these made-up interviews from the novel Gog by the Italian writer Giovanni Papini, though his “interviews” were with people a bit more contemporary. Today I will be interviewing one of the greatest poets in the history of mankind. His epic poems will be forever remembered as universal masterpieces. That’s right! I’m talking about Homer. The problem is that our guest didn’t feel comfortable talking much about his personal life, so I can’t solve the “Homeric question”. Sorry, folks!
Q. XAIPE, Homer. Thanks for receiving us. It’s a great pleasure interviewing such a great poet. When did you first start thinking about becoming a poet?
A. I had a very difficult childhood. I’m actually the black sheep of my family. My parents wanted me to become a shepherd or a wine trader, and they never really forgave me for becoming a poet. I used to hear performances from local poets back then, and they were extremely mediocre! I felt that characters like Achilles and Odysseus deserved a much
better aeido to sing their deeds. Fortunately I was blessed with a great memory and have a knack for writing poetry with hexameters. In only a few months I came up with a poem called the Iliad, which became a great hit!
Q. What can you tell us about the Iliad? Do you think this will be your magnum opus?
A. I did put a lot of effort into it, but I can’t say if it will be my best work. That aside, I feel wonderful when I perform it! The audience stirs noticeably whenever I pick up my lyre and start singing about the Greek heroes, and they start booing whenever the Trojans turn the tide! The muse inspired me to create this magnificent piece, but I do resent a little bit that I had to write a work with so much violence. Please understand, phile, I was
penniless at the time! I had to please the audience to make a living! On the other hand, now that my purse is full of money, I’m going to focus on something else.
Q. You said before that you resented including so much violence in the Iliad. I suppose you don’t approve much of violence?
A. I definitely do not! In the future I sincerely hope mankind will suffer through fewer wars. My favorite character in the Iliad, Nestor, says that only a clanless, heartless outlaw likes war. I am and always will be a pacifist. I only wrote about gruesome deaths and murder because I needed to please the audience. In fact, one of my favorite passages from the Iliad is the farewell between Hector and Andromache. I hope that pacifists in your day see it as an important anti-war scene. Honestly, I would have liked to write a totally different end to the Iliad, but the public would have hated it! Originally, I had planned to have the Greeks and Trojans meet in a symposium, which would be attended by Helen, and they would have asked whether she wanted to be with Paris or Menelaos. She would make her decision, then they would have a Greek barbecue afterward! There would be no need for a ten-year war and the destruction of Troy!
Q. I’ve always thought that your female characters are fascinating. Which is your favorite?
A. Helen is a personal favorite of mine, and Hera as well, of course! Some people criticize me for the episode in book XIV in which Hera tricks Zeus in order to help the Greeks. This may sound crazy, but I think women should have the same rights as men! I strongly believe they can have other roles in society, apart from motherhood. Does this seem like a crazy idea to you?
Q. Certainly not! Eventually, the world will catch up with you, but great artists are always far ahead of their time. Speaking of time, can you tell us a little about your plans for the future?
A. I’m now planning a tour of Greece, and I hope I’ll be able to make it to other states as well. I hear there is a village in Italy that was supposedly founded by Aeneas himself. I look forward to meeting the local elders and inquiring them about the origins of their city. The Greeks see the Italians as backward barbarians, but I think they may have a bright future ahead of them! As for new poems, I’m working on a sequel for the Iliad, which will be a retelling of the return of Odysseus to his homeland, Ithaca. In fact, I will be reading from the first book in a symposium today. Do you think you’ll be able to attend? It’s only fifty drachmas for the dinner and the show.
Q. I’ll definitely try to make it!….Now, in conclusion, what message would you like to leave for the people in the future?
A. I hope someone will eventually take the time to write down my poems. My memory isn’t what it used to be, I’m afraid! I also hope people from the future will study my works with diligence since I put so much effort into them! Memorizing sixteen thousand verses isn’t easy!
I’m now watching Homer’s performance at the symposium, and I’m having the time of my life! Other classicists must be green with envy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
André Bastos Gurgel, OAB (Order of Attorneys of Brazil), Academic Advisor for the Carmenta Online Latin School, is a life-long student of both modern and ancient languages. Mr. Gurgel is fluent in English, Portuguese, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Latin (the last of which he learned with Carmenta) and has a working knowledge of Danish, Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit. Mr. Gurgel is currently studying Old English through Carmenta as well.
Click here to read Mr. Gurgel’s full profile.