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This Author: Doug Metzger

Literature and History Podcast by Doug Metzger

Literature and History Podcast

by Doug Metzger

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This podcast is an introduction to Anglophone literature, from ancient times to the present, done by a Ph.D. with lots of books and musical instruments. A typical episode offers a summary of a work, or part of a work of literature, followed by some historical analysis. The episodes include original music, some comedy songs, and goofy jokes. You can listen to the shows in any order, although from time to time, episodes will make brief mention of previous or upcoming ones.


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  • Episode 52: White Flowers Die
    Thu, Apr 12, 2018


    Virgil’s Eclogues (c. 38 BCE) are poems about country life. Far from being innocent celebrations, though they are often cryptic filled with a haunting darkness.

  • Episode 51: Horace and Augustan Age Poetry
    Mon, Mar 19, 2018


    Horace (65-8 BCE) was a central figure in shaping Augustan Age tastes in satire and literary criticism. His bumbling, self conscious persona has been charming readers for millennia.

  • Episode 50: Our Brutal Age (Horace's Poetry)
    Mon, Feb 19, 2018


    The Roman poet Horace (65-8 BCE), a contemporary of Augustus, endured wars, regime changes, and became a literary spokesman for the new principate.

  • Episode 49: The Strange Roots of Love (Catullus' Poetry)
    Wed, Jan 31, 2018


    Catullus (c. 85-54 BCE) is Rome’s most famous early poet. Departing from epic tradition, Catullus wrote a canon of short works that have been famous since antiquity.

  • Episode 48: The Right and the Expedient (Cicero's Career, 62-43 BCE)
    Mon, Jan 15, 2018


    Following his consulship, Cicero did his best to salvage the battered Republic, eventually going head to head with the powerful young general Mark Antony.

  • Episode 47: O Tempora, O Mores (Cicero's Career, 80-62 BCE)
    Wed, Dec 20, 2017


    The story of Cicero’s career is an epic tale, filled with courtroom dramas, corruption, conspiracy, greed, and Cicero’s own enduring hope for a better future.

  • Episode 46: The Republic at Twilight (Cicero's Early Life)
    Sat, Dec 09, 2017


    Cicero (106-43 BCE) was the undisputed master of the Latin language. During his first thirty years, he witnessed events that heralded the Republic’s end.

  • Episode 45: The Uncuttables (Lucretius' On the Nature of Things and Epicureanism)
    Thu, Nov 16, 2017


    Lucretius (c. 94-53 BCE) is our most important source for Epicurean philosophy, perhaps the most misunderstood school of thought from the ancient world.

  • Episode 44: Homo Sum (Terence's The Brothers)
    Fri, Oct 20, 2017


    The Roman playwright Terence (c. 184-159 BCE) produced a string of brilliant comedies in the 160s BCE. His masterpiece, The Brothers, continues to astonish us today.

  • Episode 43: On the Move (Plautus' The Rope)
    Fri, Sep 29, 2017


    Plautus (c. 254-184 BCE) was a prolific comedy writer. His late play, The Rope, captures the dizzying changes sweeping Rome after the Second Punic War.

  • Episode 42: The Beginnings of Roman Literature
    Sun, Sep 17, 2017


    Roman literature grew slowly from Greek traditions during the 300s and 200s BCE. Learn about its earliest figures, and how they paved the way for the Age of Cicero.

  • Episode 41: Everything So Far
    Wed, May 03, 2017


    A retrospective of everything L&H has covered so far, plus some special announcements.

  • Episode 40: Hellenism and the Birth of the Self
    Mon, Apr 24, 2017


    The Hellenistic period – 330-30 BCE, saw Alexander’s successor kingdoms rotting away in the east, the rise of Rome, and the birth of modern consciousness.

  • Episode 39: Medea and the Argonauts (Apollonius' Jason and the Argonauts)
    Tue, Apr 04, 2017


    Apollonius’ Jason and the Argonauts, Books 3-4. Mesmerizing Medea takes center stage at the Argonautica’s end, dominating the epic’s events.

  • Episode 38: The Epic Anti-Hero (Apollonius' Jason and the Argonauts)
    Wed, Mar 22, 2017


    Jason and the Argonauts, Books 1-2. Journey with Jason to find the Golden Fleece, and learn about the Greco-Egyptian writer, Apollonius of Rhodes.

  • Episode 37: The New Comedy (Menander's Old Cantankerous)
    Fri, Mar 03, 2017


    Menander’s Old Cantankerous (316 BCE), produced during the New Comedy period, shows theater beginning to take on its modern form.

  • Episode 36: War and Peace and Sex (Aristophanes' Lysistrata)
    Wed, Feb 22, 2017


    Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, with all of its nudity, sex, and explicit language, was nonetheless his most powerful salvo against the Peloponnesian War.

  • Episode 35: The Great Thundercrap (Aristophanes' The Clouds)
    Tue, Feb 07, 2017


    Aristophanes’ The Clouds is a dazzling satire on Athenian philosophy, showing a very different Socrates than Plato’s.

  • Episode 34: The Traditions of Our Forefathers (Euripides' The Bacchae)
    Tue, Jan 24, 2017


    Euripides’ The Bacchae, one of the darkest  and bloodiest works of Ancient Greek tragedy, is about the spread of cult religions during the late Peloponnesian War.

  • Episode 33: Woman the Barbarian (Euripides' Medea)
    Thu, Jan 05, 2017


    Euripides’ Medea is Ancient Greece’s most famous play. But what did it mean to the Athenians in 431 BCE who watched it on the Acropolis?

  • Episode 32: Trees Bending to the Torrent (Sophocles' Antigone)
    Wed, Dec 21, 2016


    Sophocles’ Theban Plays, 3 of 3. Antigone is a timeless and dark story about a clash of wills. But it’s also fascinating snapshot of the philosophical brawls of 5th-century BCE Athens.

  • Episode 31: The Requiem at Athens (Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus)
    Wed, Dec 07, 2016


    Sophocles’ Theban Plays, 2 of 3. Oedipus at Colonus, out of the ashes of the Peloponnesian War, is a story about a man who has lost everything but his own dignity.

  • Episode 30: Two Legs in the Afternoon (Sophocles' Oedipus the King)
    Wed, Nov 23, 2016


    Sophocles’  Theban Plays, 1 of 3. Oedipus the King is one of literature’s great stories. It’s also a haunting window into the fears of war torn Athens in 429 BCE.

  • Episode 29: The Mound and the Furies (Aeschylus' The Eumenides)
    Fri, Nov 11, 2016


    Aeschylus’ Oresteian Trilogy, 3 of 3. Pursued all the away to Athens by the monstrous Furies, will Orestes prevail, or be torn apart?

  • Episode 28: A Mother's Curse (Aeschylus' The Libation Bearers)
    Thu, Oct 27, 2016


    Aeschylus’ Oresteian Trilogy, 2 of 3. The infernal House of Atreus had witnessed almost every imaginable act of depravity. Except for one.

  • Episode 27: The Bloody King (Aeschylus' Agamemnon)
    Fri, Oct 14, 2016


    Aeschylus’ Oresteian Trilogy, 1 of 3. A terrible family curse. A wronged queen. The Trojan War was only the start of the bloodshed.

  • Episode 26: Ancient Greek Theater (The History of 5th-Century BCE Athenian Drama)
    Fri, Sep 30, 2016


    Masks. Choruses. Huge prosthetic penises. Before you read Sophocles, Euripides, and company, it’s a good idea to know a bit about Ancient Greek Theater.

  • Episode 25: Lyrical Ballistics (Sappho, Pindar, Archilochus, and Greek Lyric Poetry)
    Thu, Sep 15, 2016


    The work of Sappho, Pindar, and other remarkable Greek lyric poets makes us question everything we think we know about poetry, what it is, and what it does.

  • Episode 24: God May Relent (The Bible's Prophetic Books)
    Thu, Sep 01, 2016


    The Old Testament, Part 10 of 10. The seventeen Prophetic Books, produced during war and diaspora, are both despairingly bleak and searingly hopeful.

  • Episode 23: Love. Desire. Exegesis. (The Song of Songs/Solomon)
    Thu, Aug 25, 2016


    The Old Testament, Part 9 of 10. What’s the Song of Songs doing in the Bible? Is it a pious hymn to God, or just a couple of horny lovers talking to each other?

  • Episode 22: Fatalism (The Book of Ecclesiastes)
    Tue, Aug 16, 2016


    The Old Testament, Part 8 of 10. If there is one Biblical book that explains all of life, thick and thin, love and anguish, that book is probably Ecclesiastes.

  • Episode 21: The Bible's Magic Trick (The Book of Psalms)
    Wed, Jul 27, 2016


    The Old Testament, Part 7 of 10. In the Book of Psalms,  a single, fascinating, familiar linguistic device propels the world’s most famous poems.

  • Episode 20: The Problem of Evil (The Book of Job)
    Fri, Jul 15, 2016


    The Old Testament, Part 6 of 10. If God is so good, then why do the good and innocent suffer? The Book of Job’s aim is to answer this question.

  • Episode 19: The One Who Struggles with God (The Historical Books and Biblical Archaeology)
    Wed, Jun 29, 2016


    The Old Testament, Part 5 of 10. The Historical Books tell of Israel’s conflicts with Syria, Assyria, Egypt, and finally, exile to the corridors of Babylon.

  • Episode 18: The 613 Commandments (The Pentateuch's Prescriptive Materials)
    Wed, Jun 15, 2016


    The Old Testament, Part 4 of 10. Eden, the Flood, the Commandments– all fine. But what’s with all the stuff about tents, sacrifices, and – uh – testicles?

  • Episode 17: Roots of the Pentateuch (The Pentateuch and Comparative Mythography)
    Wed, Jun 01, 2016


    The Old Testament, Part 3 of 10. Hear the Biblical story of creation and the first founders of Israel, and the texts that may have influenced this story.

  • Episode 16: Four Main Parts (Introduction to the Bible's Structure)
    Wed, May 25, 2016


    The Old Testament, Part 2 of 10. There are tons of books,  thousands of proper nouns, and many versions of the Old Testament. But all of it fits into four main parts.

  • Episode 15: Canaan (Biblical History and Archaeology)
    Fri, May 13, 2016


    The Old Testament, Part 1 of 10. 1207 BCE. Two world empires. And between them, an unassuming strip of seacoast land that has been at the center of history, ever since.

  • Episode 14: The Autumn Leaves (Homer's Odyssey, Books 17-24)
    Wed, Apr 27, 2016


    The Odyssey, Part 3 of 3.  As we reach the violent climax of Odysseus’ great adventures, it’s time to spend some time considering Homer’s worldview.

  • Episode 13: His Mind Teeming (Homer's Odyssey, Books 9-16)
    Tue, Apr 19, 2016


    The Odyssey, Part 2 of 3.  We know Odysseus and Achilles well. But what motivates, and distinguishes these two great Ancient Greek heroes?

  • Episode 12: Kleos and Nostos (Homer's Odyssey, Books 1-8)
    Wed, Apr 13, 2016


    The Odyssey, Part 1 of 3.  Adventure, monsters, temptresses, and a whole lot of wine-dark Aegean. Learn all about the world of Homer’s Odyssey.

  • Episode 11: Who Was Homer? (Homer's Iliad, Books 17-24)
    Sun, Mar 27, 2016


    The Iliad, part 3 of 3.  As the Iliad reaches its  spectacular climax, it’s time to ask a big question. Who wrote it?

  • Episode 10: Homer's Gods (Homer's Iliad, Books 9-16)
    Sun, Mar 27, 2016


    The Iliad, part 2 of 3. They’re violent, unreliable, horny, and sometimes just plain weird. They’re the Homeric pantheon.

  • Episode 9: Glittering Bronze Men (Homer's Iliad, Books 1-8)
    Sun, Mar 27, 2016


    The Iliad, part 1 of 3. Homer’s Iliad is the Tyrannosaurus Rex of ancient epics. And at the core of its 24 books is one shiny metal.

  • Episode 8: Before Orthodoxy (Hesiod's Theogony)
    Fri, Feb 12, 2016


    Elementals, giants, titans and gods! Hesiod's Theogony chronicles a great war - one which would leave one entity sovereign over the cosmos.

  • Episode 7: Hesiod's Lands and Seasons (Hesiod's Works and Days)
    Fri, Feb 12, 2016


    Before Aristotle, Socrates and Plato, there was a grouchy farmer poet whose Works and Days continues to fascinate us.

  • Episode 6: The Pros and Cons of Wisdom (Ancient Egypt's Wisdom Literature)
    Fri, Feb 12, 2016


    Ancient Egypt produced a great deal of proverbs and wisdom literature. Some of it even slipped into the Bible. But how wise is wisdom literature?

  • Episode 5: Beneath the Obelisks (Ancient Egyptian Fiction)
    Fri, Feb 12, 2016


    We know about Ancient Egypt's pyramids, temples, and sarcophagi. What about its folktales and stories?

  • Episode 4: Divine Judgment (The Book of the Dead)
    Fri, Feb 12, 2016


    In the 3,500 year old Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, we can find the roots of the world's religions.

  • Episode 3: He Who Saw the Deep (The Epic of Gilgamesh)
    Fri, Feb 12, 2016


    The Epic of Gilgamesh, composed 3,000-5,000 years ago, and translated in the 1860s and 70s, was one of the greatest literary discoveries of all time.

  • Episode 2: Before the Flood (The Enuma Elish and Atrahasis)
    Fri, Feb 12, 2016


    The Enuma Elish and the Atrahasis, in circulation 3,800 years ago, were Mesopotamia's creation and flood epics, making them 1,000 years older than Genesis.

  • Episode 1: The Tower of Babel (Cuneiform)
    Fri, Feb 12, 2016


    For thousands of years, cuneiform was the means of transmitting information through space and time in the Ancient Near East. Then, something happened.

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