Monday, 11 February 2019

Three Wonderful Women of Canada


The Homer of Montreal
Three inspirational women of Canada lit up my week. A longstanding friend, Prof. Lynn Kozak, was not actually born there, but has  made Classics Kool in Montreal. Last year she performed, as Happy Hour Homerscenes covering the entire Iliad in the Bar des Pins at 1800 every Monday. It took from January to August, while she got more and more visibly pregnant. You can see her extraordinary performances on Youtube: my favourite is the uncomfortable feast in sulky Achilles’ tent in book IX.

Satyr stranded on Sicily
Lynn invited me to lecture in connection with her McGill students’ annual classics play, an initiative she founded ten years ago. Performed in translation in public theatres, these plays reach a wide non-academic public. This year they did the only surviving Greek satyr play, Euripides’ Cyclops, which was side-splittingly funny. The highlight was the priapic chorus’s dance with stuffed sheep, although the sub-chorus of militaristic Ithacans gave them a run for their money, and the Cyclops’ unrequited passion for Chief Satyr Silenus was unexpectedly poignant.

Friend since 1984
Then a Toronto reunion with my graduate-school housemate Prof. Dawn Bazely, an Anglo-Indian-Canadian with whom in the 1980s I shared three years of stiff gins and a few interesting dinners with my then soon-to-be-ex husband (never marry a Kantian) as well as her then supervisors including Richard Dawkins. Dawn is a force of nature, a celebrated York Uni Biologist and a leader in initiatives to bring science—especially ecological issues—to the public. She also dyed her hair in Rainbow colours to support LGBTQ rights when she picked up her Distinguished Professor Award.

Kate was an exceptional athlete
And I also heard that the posthumous book by the late, great Canadian Professor Kate Bosher, which I’ve co-edited, is finally nearing publication with CUP. It will change our understanding of the literature and culture of the Greeks in south Italy and Sicily and I can hardly bear that she will never see it herself. More on this soon.

Wit and Competence
Between Lynn, Dawn and Kate, I can’t help but be reminded of the beautiful two sentences uttered by Charlotte Whitton, elected first female mayor of Ottawa in 1951: ‘Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily this is not difficult’.