“Best of 2016” may sound like an oxymoron at this point, but we owe it to ourselves nonetheless to keep our minds sharp, reflect on the passing year, and share what we can with the world. Ecce—Lecta Delecta: The Best Ancient Literature of 2016!
As my good friend Charley McNamara wrote back in 2013 when he started this annual tradition: “We classicists spend a lot of time every year reading texts from 2,000 years ago, not the New Releases from Amazon.” So, rather than miss out on year-end list life, let’s cull the optima, pulcherrima, novissima, gravissima, iucundissima, et nescioquae alia from the literature of antiquity.
Here’s how it works: write a little blurb about a piece of Greek or Latin literature that particularly struck you over the past year. Please include text and translation (preferably your own!). I’ll collect everyone’s submissions and then post them here at the end of the year.
Here are some guidelines from LD’s founder:
- Keep in mind that a “Best of 2016” list is not a scholarly publication. It’s not the proper forum for discussing your novel reordering of Catullus’ long poems. But tell us about a new favorite Catullus poem you (re)discovered this year.
- Feel free to submit texts from post-classical periods (looking at all you early modern historians here). No modern languages allowed, sorry.
- Keep it short. Just a few sentences is fine.
- Keep it fun. Channel Lucian, not Aristotle.
- Submit all entries via email. Or if you really want a challenge, submit via 140 characters of pithy brilliance on Twitter.
- I will include your name in the final post unless you request anonymity.
And here’s something new for 2016—my work this year with ISAW and the CLTK has broadened my definition of “classical” literature immensely and I would love to see some Sumerian, Demotic, Coptic, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Chinese, or any other of the dozens of languages that fill my days now. (Will we see a Luwian Lecta Delecta this year?)
All entries must be submitted by Wednesday, December 28. (NB: You’ll ask for an extension and then I’ll say “Yes”. But I really do want to post these by NYE, so don’t wait too long!) The Lecta Delecta mission has long been something like: Horace and Sappho have been missing the “Best of” parties for millennia—it’s time to extend a long-overdue invite. Help me continue the tradition.