Today the British Museum are hosting a livestream where various actors and scholars are reading The Iliad in its entirety. In case you don’t know, I studied Classics as an undergrad so I’m basically a fangirl for Homeric epithets and epic journeys, especially when they’re read out by your old lecturer, the excellently bearded Simon Goldhill. A handful of people suggested it would be fun to write something in the Homeric style, perhaps even with a YA theme. I’ve only had one coffee today, but since bits of my novel are shamelessly inspired by things I studied at uni, I’ll give it a shot. Brace yourselves.
Sing, O Scrivener, the anger of Laura daughter of Linda, that brought countless hardships upon young adults. Many a beastie she slaughtered, and many unheroic deeds were carried out on the day long-haired Cavan, plougher of seas, seducer of women (and men, and anyone that seemed keen) travelled along the Water of Leith.
And which of the beasties began the quarrel? It was Dorcha of the potentially spoilerrific epithet, who quite fancied taking over the human’s world. Now Cavan had come to the local tavern seeking a brave hero as the child of evening, steely-fingered Rain, touched the buildings of Tollcross.
“Verily, these bards lack musical direction,” cried Rael, hated by policemen, who had fled many hardships and travelled across the wine-dark sea to find a land crushed by the tyrant Thatcher, daughter of grocers. He looked around for his brother, many-virtued Solas, but he was nowhere to be seen. The tavern filled up with tribes from distant places: New Romantics of the frilly blouses from the land of Duran, a phalanx of safety pin-loving punks, and the Rock Mullets hated by all.
And it came to pass that a pair of women caught Rael’s eye, but before he could claim them bold Cavan appeared, winning them over with sartorial elegance and oft-applied hair products.
“O gods of finance, these drinks are truly expensive.” With these words, the long-haired selkie sat at the bar. He was joined by a young man who walked up furiously. Recognising him as the hero foretold by
the novel outline legend, Cavan offered a hand in greeting.
“Hear me, O yuppie of the immaculately tailored waistcoat, and understand that you have wandered far from your home and onto my patch. Therefore I say, and I swear it by my angstily tousled hair, that you shall keep your filthy hands off them.”
Thus the young human spoke, but long-haired Cavan drained his glass and said “Sir, what you’ve said is true, but you don’t understand well the needs of my species, and furthermore you’re not their type anyway.”
Just as when a furious stag sharpens his antlers, bellows and charges into the fray in rutting season, so did plot-bearing Rael charge at oversexed Cavan, wagging his unbridled tongue, a lover of sedition, a young man of many words, and those unseemly and unprintable.
“You scoundrel,” he exclaimed in a Victorian translation-friendly way. “I curse the mother who gave you life!”
The tavern descended into chaos, until the child of adverbs, many-coffeed Laura, declared that this was getting a bit out of hand and summoned the weather gods to create a cunning plot device. The two men sat outside, their glib tongues in check, while the world of humans turned black and the creatures beneath the streets crawled and slid like insects in the dark soil.
See, kids, if you’ve got your A-level results and are considering degrees, why not try Classics? Look at those goddamn transferable skills, eh? Eh?