The world has grown old: reflections on Studies of the Greek Poets by J.A.S

The first version of Studies of the Greek Poets is published in 1873. A result of his life-long study in Greek literature, this book looks deeply into the Greek aesthetics, literary traditions, and politics through the lens of poets and the poetry. At this point, Symonds’ knowledge of Ancient Greece is sophisticated enough for him … Continue reading The world has grown old: reflections on Studies of the Greek Poets by J.A.S

“A Sort of Bible”: Symonds and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass

Although John Addington Symonds’ strongest influences came from classical antiquity, he also drew substantial inspiration from books by some of his contemporaries. One noteworthy example is Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. Reading Leaves of Grass was a spiritual and artistic epiphany for Symonds; the book, and his understanding of Whitman, had a great influence … Continue reading “A Sort of Bible”: Symonds and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass

Renaissance in Italy: Echoes of Paederastia in Symonds’ Published Work

Today, the literary legacy of John Addington Symonds includes edited versions of his memoirs, biographies he penned of Percy Shelley and Philip Sidney, and of course his privately-printed essay A Problem in Greek Ethics. Yet a large percentage of his work fell into a very different genre: many of his books were sold as a … Continue reading Renaissance in Italy: Echoes of Paederastia in Symonds’ Published Work

Yearning, Nostalgia: Plutarch’s Influences over Symonds

Two ways to look deeply into an ancient culture are to read about the lives of its people and the social ideologies they formed. Plutarch produced one work for each. As an essayist, Plutarch has a collection of articles, Moralia, including essays and transcribed speeches, shedding light on the Greek and Roman livings in general. As … Continue reading Yearning, Nostalgia: Plutarch’s Influences over Symonds

Symonds and The World of London: Some Clues for the Lost Library

Understanding the social, economic and political conditions of John Addington Symonds' life is crucial to understanding his personality and his writing. It is also a way to find the connections he had with other writers and translators. The World of London represents an opportunity to deepen this dimension we may have ignored so far. This … Continue reading Symonds and The World of London: Some Clues for the Lost Library

The Things We Do For Love: The Death of Patroclus and Achilles’ Vengeance

During his studies—almost certainly at the Harrow School, and more extensively at Balliol College, Oxford—John Addington Symonds would have read the Iliad by Homer. There is much speculation and dissent, both by ancient writers and modern scholars, about the exact nature of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus depicted by the text. At the time, … Continue reading The Things We Do For Love: The Death of Patroclus and Achilles’ Vengeance

First budding of the down: Symonds’ encounter with Sir. William Hamilton’s collection of antiquities

Imagine dwelling in your father’s library for the whole day, devouring Greek literature. When your eyes need a break, you look out from the windows of Clifton Hill House. The city’s towers, the River Avon, and the sea-going ships are gleaming. Or, you feast your eyes with engravings, photographs, copies of Italian pictures and illustrated … Continue reading First budding of the down: Symonds’ encounter with Sir. William Hamilton’s collection of antiquities