Moderation Paper I
April 23, 2013
My first problem was the ghost of Darius. I think that he came in anger. I had done this miserable thing to my copy of Aeschylus’ Persians – I had given it a fringe of those little yellow flags whose purpose it is to destroy the appearance of any fine-looking book. I had been assigned one of the first papers I'd write here, and I am sure that wanted to hold off for another moment that unspooling experience by scrambling to organize what happily bedevils the highlighting and underlining eye. I made several pages of very neat, probably very pallid notes. The thing I was going to make was due soon. The writing of it had to start now, if not the day before. I felt – and still I feel this way – as though I were sprawled out on the ground, groping at the ankles of people running quick to somewhere I don't know. I am trying to trip something that won't fall, and make it lay still with me in the dirt, where I can't see much of anything, and everything confused.
Still, one has to open the book to start. This I did, and Darius came out. There was smoke, or there was noise, or confetti, or pot shards, or he didn't have any eyes, or he looked like a hologram, or he wobbled at the outlines of his shape. It is hard to say. I have met a lot of ghosts since then.
“But Darius,” I said. “Why should I major in classics?”
He made some sounds – metrically good, but nothing that I, a barbarian, could understand. I think that his real answer was to follow me, which he has been doing since the day I wrote my first paper for Professor Romm's Athenian Century class. I kept meeting more ghosts, and they joined him. I have a nice train now: Hephaistos, Clytemnestra, Pericles, Akhilleus, Philoctetes, Phaedrus, Solon, Aristophanes, Glaucon, Alcibiades, and so on. They scatter banana peels across my sidewalks. If I don't trip on those, one of them will correct this soon enough. Often I will be talking to some...