Oldest Fragment of the Odyssey?

A handout photo made available by the Greek Ministry of Culture shows a clay tablet with an engraved inscription of a rhapsody in Homer's "Odyssey" on 10 July 2018

Looks like a far cry from the nice paperbacks we use now!

Before editions of the Odyssey could be printed, bound, and tossed into a backpack, and before the story was first recorded on tablets, it was passed as an oral tradition that changed slightly with each retelling. After Homer recorded the story in writing in the 8th century BCE, the story could endure retelling, and that versionbecame the one we know today. Now,BBC reports that archaeologists may have discovered the oldest recording of Homer’s Odyssey on a tabletdating back to Roman times, still centuries after Homer’s lifetime.

Slow and Steady: the Value of Slow Reading

Imagine the difference between enjoying a relaxing, sit-down meal and scarfing down a granola bar while riding the T to work. While many would prefer the former, sometimes we must sacrifice quality and enjoyment for practicality. But should we treat reading the same way? The folks over at The Indy thought the same thing in their argument for Slow Reading.

“It’s related to the concept of a close reading a technique used in critical analysis where the reader pays close attention to details and sentence structure. With slow reading, the reader consciously slows their reading speed down. Slow reading can help you understand the piece better and it can help you enjoy it more.”

Of course, we here at Core agree that texts require a certain level of devoted attention and contemplation to be truly appreciated and understood.Whereas speed reading promotes absorbing the most information in the least amount of time, proponents of slow reading advocate for the quality of the content and the experience of reading itself. Even though practicality and academic deadlines may not always allow for this patience, reading should be enjoyable, not stressful. And with much of summer still before us, there’s no better time to slow down give your book the time and attention it deserves.

Postcards to the Core: from Madrid, April 2018

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Exciting news: We have received word back from one of our students studying abroad in Madrid! This postcard comes to us from recent Core alum Kassandra Round, who has been very missed at the Core office.

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Dear Core,

I have been in Madrid for almost 3 months and it has been an amazing experience. I see little Don Quixote references all over the city. This postcard is a picture of the Plaza Mayor, a busy central square. Not pictured is the statue of Philip III placed there in 1848.

Can’t wait to see you,



* Core loves postcards. Whether you’re at home or abroad now, wed love to get one from you. Our address is easy: Core Curriculum, Boston University, Boston MA 02215.

An evening in celebration of David Ferry

On April 11th, an audience of forty gathered in the Katzenberg Center in the College of General Studies for a celebration of the work of David Ferry, in the form of a reading, by friends and faculty of the Core Curriculum, of works by and related to the poet. The man himself was our final reader, and privileged all in attendance by reading unpublished poems. Here are a few photos from the evening, taken Core photographer Danial Shariat:

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To see more photos, please visit our Facebook album.

A Hearty Congratulations…

…to affiliates of the Core, Emanuel “Ami” Katz and Stephen Kalberg, for their promotions to full professor on our Charles River Campus! Stephen Kalberg is a prolific writer who has published a total of twelve books, and his focus is on the German social theorist Max Weber. Ami Katz is a brilliant physicist, a frequent speaker at both national and international conferences, and published often in premier physics journals.

Both of them are pillars of the Core community, and their promotions are certainly deserved.

Looking for something to do on Valentines Day?

Here are some local happenings for you:


Brave men and women read from old journals and share the good and the bad of their teenage years.

For one night only, Mortified is titillated to join the award-winning, neo-burlesque darlings of Rogue Burlesque! Join us for a Valentines Day extravaganza of diaries and dancing that celebrates the most hilariously awkward moments of teenage love, sex, and awkwardness. Thats right, double awkwardness!

Emotional AND literal stripping! Come on. Get those tix, chicksndix.

Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m., $15 in advance, $18 at the door, $12 for students. Coolidge Corner Theatre. 617-734-2500.



Hideout Comedy Presents: A very special Valentines Day!

Join some of the best comedians in Boston as they spend their Valentines day with you! Come with a loved one, come with your single friends, come alone! $10

Hideout Week is a full week of stand up comedy happening at The Hideout, happening from 2/13/2018-2/18/2018. Join us for what promises to be an unforgettable time!

Feb. 13 – Feb. 18, $10. The Hideout. Doors @ 7:30; Show @ 8:00. 21+. Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hideout-comedy-presents-a-very-special-valentines-day-tickets-42112279963



Anybody who believes “tis better to have loved and lost” has clearly never had their heart ripped out of their chest and stomped into the ground. Join us for a night of comedy showcasing the hilarity of heartbreak and the funny to be found in falling in love.

Thorns features some of New England’s best artists performing improv, storytelling, standup, songs, films, rants and whatever else they need to do to express their torment and/or joy around love.

Proceeds from ticket sales for Thorns will benefit the TC Cheever Family Trust and The Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Cancers at Massachusetts General Hospital in loving memory of Thorns co-creator, TC Cheever.

Feb. 14th at 7:30pm. One night only. Tickets are $18.00, $14 students



What was love like in Colonial America? The enduring love letters of John and Abigail Adams provide an insightful picture of 18th-century American life in the Boston area in beyond. These intimate letters also reveal the intellectually and emotionally fulfilling relationship between them that lasted 54 years and withstood historical upheavals, long periods apart, and personal tragedies. Their iconic personalities come to life as actors from the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum read a selection of letters and reveal, in the words of John and Abigail Adams, their teasing humor and their undying love and respect for each other.

$39 per person/$69 per couple, Wednesday, Feb 14, 2018, doors open 6:30pm, and show starts 7pm., Abigails Tea Room at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum



No, you wont actually be naked. This version of Watson Adventures scavenger hunt will send you on a tour of the MFA to locate nudes and other risqu works of art. Attend with your significant other for a romantic romp through the museumor go with a friend for kicks and giggles.

$40, Friday, February 13, 6:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, February 14 and 15, 1 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, watsonadventures.com.



For anyone who has ever breezed through South Station and thought, This place needs dancing, New School Swing agreed. Their free swing dance event will begin with a lindy hop lesson at 8 p.m., followed by the social dance from 9 to 11 p.m. with live music by Phil McGowan and the Easy Winners.

Free, Saturday, February 14, lesson at 8 p.m., social at 9 p.m., South Station, Boston, south-station.net.



The chocolate and wine tasting kickoff is for adults, but visit Salem anytime February 6 through 15 to see 15 large ice sculptures placed throughout town. Weather permitting, the Salem Trolley will give rides around the festival route February 7 and 8.

Free to attend, February 6-15, Downtown Salem, salemmainstreets.org.



Society of Grownups

1653 Beacon Street

Brookline, MA 02445

(617) 505-3636


Date: Feb. 14, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Avoid crowded restaurants and other romantic venues by heading to the Society of Grownups headquarters in Brookline for a fun night of trivia. Sure to be full of 20-something and 30-something singles, this is a great way for singles to avoid Valentines Day, have fun and meet new people. Who knows, maybe you will meet someone you can spend Valentines Day 2016 with but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Head over to the Society of Grownups and show of your smarts.



Tsai Performance Centre

685 Commonwealth Ave.

Boston, MA 02215

(617) 353-8725


Date: Feb. 14, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Nothing to do on Valentines Day, but dont want to sit at home? Head out and enjoy some a capella! This concert is a tournament of the areas best collegiate talent competing to make it to the Northeast Semifinals. Grab some friends and enjoy a night of great music and fun. This, of course, will particularly appeal to live music lovers and anyone that has seen the box office hit Pitch Perfect. You are sure to leave the auditorium happy and singing and totally oblivious to the fact that another dateless Valentines Day has passed by.



Beginner’s Workshop to prepare the songs 6:30 – 7:15 pm $15 Adult. $5 Kid.
Ukulele Jam of songs of heartbreak 7:30 – 9:30 pm FREE

Walter Baker Artist Lofts
1231 Adams Street



Calling all chocoholics! Let us romance your senses on a Harvard Square, Cambridge Chocolate Tour!

Join us for a delectable adventure through historical Harvard Square. You’ll hear interesting stories about the Square, learn fun facts about chocolate, and sample the best and most interesting chocolaty treats around. Located right outside of Boston in Cambridge on the Red Line MBTA Train Stop, Harvard Square is home to Harvard University and also has a flourishing food scene with some of the best and most unique food in the city. As a fun Valentine’s Day treat, we are offering a Harvard Square chocolate tour this Winter.

Each tour is a fun 75-90 minutes and includes 4-6 stops with plenty of treats and less than a mile of walking. We can’t wait to take you on a unique, chocolate adventure!

This tour is suitable for all ages. Must purchase tickets in advance.



Boston SciFi is gearing up for it’s 43rd year, making it the oldest genere festival in the country! Chill this winter with the best way to binge view cutting-edge SciFi before it hits Netflix or theaters.

Boston SciFi aka SF43, has award-winning films, premieres, guest directors, classic films, and an awesome collection of shorts. And there is more. Presentations, Panels, SciFi Kids, and the festivals iconic 24-hour Marathon Finale aka The ‘Thon. Think of it as the original binge viewing with over 600 of your closest friends – New & old classics, some surprises, a sing-a-long, contests, guests and more.


Somerville Theatre
55 Davis Sq

On Mice and Not Knowing


The Enlightenment was… many things. To seek to define it in one word would, perhaps, be a display of great arrogance. And of course, none of us here with the Core have anywhere near enough self-esteem to be considered arrogant. One of the definitions of Enlightenment, and perhaps the most common, is thus: the Enlightenment was a period in time during which many great intellectuals made many great advancements in philosophy. (Whatever that means.)One such intellectual went by the pen name of Voltaire, and one such advancement was the notion that reason is limited — that there is only so much one can know. This had, of course, been pointed out before, often in religious contexts, but the notion underwent a revival during the Enlightenment and was championed by Voltaire. He put it quite eloquently, as was his wont, in a letter to his then-friend Frederick the Great, King of Prussia.

Es hat nicht den Anschein, als knnte man die Urprinzipien der Dinge jemals erkennen. Die Muse, die ein paar winzige Lcher in einem riesigen Gebude bewohnen, wissen nicht, ob dieses Gebude ewigen Bestand hat, noch wer sein Baumeister ist, noch weshalb dieser Baumeister es erbaut hat. Sie mhen sich ihr Leben zu erhalten, ihre Lcher zu bevlkern und den zerstrerischen Bestien zu fliehen, die sie verfolgen. Wir sind die Muse, und der gttliche Baumeister, der dieses Universum errichtete, hat sein Geheimnis, soweit ich darum wei, noch keinem von uns verraten.
It seems unlikely that the first things can ever be known. The mice living in a few holes of an immense building do not know if the building is eternal, who is the architect, or why the architect built it. They try to preserve their lives, to populate their holes, and to escape the destructive animals which pursue them. We are the mice and the divine architect who built this universe has not yet, so far as I know, told his secret to any of us.
[English translation by Prof. James Schmidt, as quoted in his lecture on the Enlightenment for CC 202]

The idea, then, is that we, poor mice scrabbling about in our little mouse-holes, can never really understand the designs of the architect who built our building. Add to concept the discussion that Voltaire often skirts around — that is, whether there is an architect, whether there is, in other words, a God — and the question becomes even more confused. Can we ever know our purpose? Can we ever know how all this got started? Is there a purpose?

We dunno. Neither did Voltaire, though, so it’s cool.

Illustration above by Julian Williams

Three Nineteenth-Century Poets on Night

Now that we’re in the thick of the semester, we’re all lacking for a full night’s sleep. Here is what three of the English Romantics had to say about the subject of night.

The Sun Has Long Been Set

William Wordsworth

The sun has long been set,
The stars are out by twos and threes,
The little birds are piping yet
Among the bushes and trees;
Theres a cuckoo, and one or two thrushes,
And a far-off wind that rushes,
And a sound of water that gushes,
And the cuckoos sovereign cry
Fills all the hollow of the sky.
Who would go parading
In London, and masquerading,”
On such a night of June
With that beautiful soft half-moon,
And all these innocent blisses?
On such a night as this is!

To Night

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Swiftly walk oer the western wave,
Spirit of the Night!
Out of the misty eastern cave,
Where, all the long and lone daylight,
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear,
Which make thee terrible and dear,
Swift be thy flight!

Wrap thy form in a mantle gray,
Blind with thine hair the eyes of Day;
Kiss her until she be wearied out,
Then wander oer city, and sea, and land,
Touching all with thine opiate wand
Come, long-sought!

When I arose and saw the dawn,
I sighed for thee;
When light rode high, and the dew was gone,
And noon lay heavy on flower and tree,
And the weary Day turned to his rest,
Lingering like an unloved guest,
I sighed for thee.

Thy brother Death came, and cried,
Wouldst thou me?
Thy sweet child Sleep, the filmy-eyed,
Murmured like a noontide bee,
Shall I nestle near thy side?
Wouldst thou me?And I replied,
No, not thee!

Death will come when thou art dead,
Soon, too soon
Sleep will come when thou art fled;
Of neither would I ask the boon
I ask of thee, belovd Night
Swift be thine approaching flight,
Come soon, soon!

To Sleep

John Keats

O soft embalmer of the still midnight!
Shutting with careful fingers and benign
Our gloom-pleased eyes, embowerd from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine;
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close,
In midst of this thine hymn, my willing eyes,
Or wait the amen, ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities;
Then save me, or the passd day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes;
Save me from curious conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oild wards,
And seal the hushd casket of my soul.

Find the poems here, here, and here, respectively.

Ancient Advice for a Good Life

Need some life advice? (I know I do.) Unsure about how best to handle love, longing, academics, et al.? (Yes to all of the above.) Why not ask the ancients for advice? BU’s very own Professor Varhelyi asked this final question when confronted with students’ concerns, and decided to pursue it further. In collaboration with Arts & Sciencesmagazine, she created a sort of advice column, treated as though it were wisdom from ancient thinkers (all told through the mouth of the goddess Athena herself!). Varhelyi not only answers common life questions with the all the sage wisdom a professor of ancient thinkers can provide, she then adds a short discussion about the philosopher she referenced in her answer.An excerpt:

“Dear Athena: My boyfriend and I have great chemistry, but its a different story beyond the bedroom. We dont have anything to talk about at restaurants, so we end up on our phones. We really have nothing in commonbut Ive never been so attracted to anyone. How can I turn lust into love?

Athena: Plato (427347 BCE, Greece) would have us believe that humans were originally spherical, with four arms, four legs, and a single head with two faces. They ran by turning cartwheels. When these foolish creatures got too cocky and took on the gods, Zeus split them in two. Now, we roam the Earth in search of our other halves, longing to be whole again. So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of man, wrote Plato in Symposium (translation by Benjamin Jowett). Thats why it isnt enough to have a partner who only offers physical pleasure, and why it does matter that you and your boyfriend have nothing in common. This man is not your other half, so dont waste your time on him. Go find the one person on this planet who will complete you.”

Bet you never thought to apply Platonic values to your sex life, but Professor Varhelyi did. Check it out here!

On libraries

By: Carmen Bugan







Feeling nostalgic for the Bodleian, here I turn to Charles Lamb, who wrote:

What a place to be in is an old library! It seems as though all the souls of all the writers that have bequeathed their labours to these Bodleians, were reposing here, as in some dormitory, or middle state. I do not want to handle, to profane the leaves, their winding sheets. I could as soon dislodge a shade. I seem to inhale learning, walking amid their foliage; and the odour of their old moth-scented coverings is fragrant as the first bloom of those sciential apples which grew amid the happy orchard. Charles Lamb, fromOxford in the Vacation

Source: https://carmenbugan.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/on-libraries/