Why I did not Quit Studying Greek Literature
History is a wondrous thing for anyone who really desires to delve into it. I realized this all the way back when I was in grade school. At this time, I had a great history teacher. Unlike some other faculty members who seemed to despise their jobs, this teacher, called Mr. Erickson, was fantastic in every sense of the word. His ability to present fact in an interesting manner made all pupils pay attention, while some, like me, ended up completely enchanted by his approach to history.
Using words, he was able to paint pictures in my mind which were vivid and real like any great movie or TV series I enjoyed back then. All of them were full characters that were larger than life, who were involved in world-changing events like wars, building projects, political campaigns and so much more.
Though Mr. Erickson, these past occurrences were not simply history, but something all of us could live through and imagine yourself right there with those historical figures. Each one of these classes was like that and I looked forward to all of them. Once, when I was the last one to leave the classroom, I stayed a bit longer and asked him how did he attain such power over all of us.
Mr. Erickson smiled at me and told me that he is simply in love with history and that a single book allowed him to fall in love. He promised me that he will bring me the book in question and next week, he gave me an introduction to the Greek myths. He said that studying Greek literature was the thing that changed his life and opened his eyes to the endless abundance of imagination and reality that was captured in these ancient stories.
I took the book and simply devoured it in a matter of days, feeling each story with my full being. I spent the subsequent years simply waiting for a chance to enroll in a university and begin in earnest my education that was to be focused on studying Greek literature. Finally, I finished high school and embrace on my big, practically mythological adventure into the realm of two millennia-old stories. Here as well, Greek mythology helped me on my journey.
I imagined myself as Odysseus, who was braving the hard seas of the Mediterranean to get to the place he wanted to be. I saw my room being the ship that took me to my destination, while the waters of the Poseidon were raging beneath me, wishing to overturn my small vessel and send me to the bottomless pit of the dark sea. Of course, all this made my roommate see me as a huge weirdo, but I did not mind. Instead, I was excited to begin my first class and finally experience what can the university offer me when it comes to the stories I loved so much.
But, I was greeted with a very different environment than the one I was expecting. I was hoping to see passion and engagement that I got from my old teacher, but none of the university professors were Mr. Erickson. They discussed the nature of the Iliad and the Odyssey in a cold manner, citing the influences that were bestowed upon Homer by his peers and the time in which he created his epic work. They disseminated and dissected every verse in ancient poems and found ways how to explain their form and function in a process that seems completely devoid of imagination I so much wanted to get.
For me, this was a huge disappointment, knowing that I ended up in a purely academic environment where the things did not work as they did with my grade school. After a month there, I was very disappointed and willing to quit studying the whole thing. But then, I started wondering what would my favorite character Odysseus do? I realized that he would continue to push forward regardless of what adversities lay ahead. He would do whatever he could so he could keep on sailing, working diligently towards his destination. That is why I did the same and told myself to keep studying Greek literature and find my inspiration and imagination once again in the stories I love.
I went back to class and instead of looking for passion in others, I showed my passion instead. This propelled me across my studies like a rocket ship through the void of space. Now, twenty years after I finished university, I am a professor who helps others in their process of studying Greek literature. I use my passion just like Mr. Erickson did and make new generation see the immense beauty from this period of our shared ancient past.