100 Days of Homer – An Experiment in Memorizing Literature
I’m adding this project to Mnemotechnics.org as a memory challenge in case anyone would like to join me. I’m going to go through the books over about 100 days, which allows about two days to read each of the 48 short books within the Iliad and Odyssey.
The translation that I’m reading is by George Chapman. I discovered it through the John Keats’ poem, On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer.
Chapman’s translation was begun in the 16th Century, around the same period as Shakespeare and the King James Bible, so it is in an early style of Modern English. Chapman may have even been the “rival poet” that Shakespeare wrote about in some of his sonnets.
The Greek poems were originally in dactylic hexameter. Chapman translated the Iliad into iambic heptameter, and the Odyssey into iambic pentameter. The Chapman translation also provides an opportunity to memorize snippets of great poetry.
If anyone would like to join this memory challenge, feel free to use any translation of Homer in any language. The main point is to memorize the structure of the stories and the characters, and see what memory techniques can offer.
There is a Wikipedia page that compares English translations of Homer.
The Iliad and the Odyssey are each divided into 24 books. If one book is read every two days, it would take about 100 days. The books are about 15 pages each, so it isn’t much reading. If anyone wants to read it faster than that, go for it.
You could memorize just the simple framework of the stories in 48 loci–one per book–or make a separate journey for each of the 48 books.
The journeys might take a little bit of time to create, but we could combine our notes in the memory techniques wiki here:
Memorizing Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey
Memorization Method Ideas
The memorization method could be very simple:
- Optionally use mind maps for notes.
- Create one journey for each book. 48 short journeys.
- Plot the main elements of each book along the journey.
If you have other ideas, post a comment below.