The Children of Eris

Near to the beginning of time, Eris, goddess of strife and discord, eldest daughter of Night, gave birth to a great number of children, among them Toil, Forgetfulness, Lies and Falsehoods, Sufferings, Quarrels, Fights, Murders, and Folly or Ruin[1]. These fatherless, unloved, but immortal children of Eris are too several and alike and loathsome to tell apart, and so they are simply called the Kakodaimones or ‘evil spirits’.

Once, many ages before ours, the Titan Prometheus[2] stole some fire from the gods in the stalk of a fennel plant and, taking pity, gifted the fire to mortal man. Zeus, the father of all the Olympian gods, punished Prometheus by bounding him to a cliff overlooking the great sea. Each day a giant eagle tore at his liver, only for the organ to regenerate overnight and to be re-eaten the next day.

Not content with punishing Prometheus, Zeus moved to punish mankind. Thus he ordered the creation of Pandora[3], a beautiful evil fashioned with softest clay and appointed with seductive gifts from each of the Olympian gods. One day – in innocence rather than malice – Pandora lifted the lid of the great jar that contained the Kakodaimones and unleashed the children of Eris onto mankind. By the time she could replace the lid, all the Kakodaimones had fled, and only poor Hope remained at the bottom of the jar.

Many generations of mortals came and passed. One fine spring, Zeus asked all the gods and demi-gods to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the soon-to-be parents of the soon-to-be hero of the Achaeans, the great Achilles. All, that is, except for Eris, who had not been forgotten but ignored, and who exacted her revenge by tossing into the party a golden apple inscribed with the message, ‘To the Fairest One’. As Eris had no doubt expected, the three most beautiful goddesses, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, began to quarrel over the apple.

To settle their dispute, Zeus appointed the hapless Paris, Prince of Troy, to pick out the fairest of the three. Hera tried to bribe Paris with a gift of the political art, Athena promised him skill in battle, and Aphrodite tempted him with the love of she that far surpassed all mortals in beauty, Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta. By picking Helen over wisdom and war, Paris enraged Menelaus and the Achaeans, who set out in a thousand ships to deliver Helen from Troy. With the war that came, came the downfall not only of Paris, but also of his royal house, peoples, and city of Troy, ancient Troy, razed to the blood-soaked ground of the once fertile plain of Scamander.


[1] Ponos, Lethe, the Pseudologoi, the Algea, the Neikea, the Hysminai, the Phonoi, and Aite.

[2] The name translates as ‘Forethought’.

[3] The name translates as ‘All-gifted’.

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Major European Wine Classifications – Closest Equivalences

For all the wine fanatics out there…

The Oxford Wine Academy’s Summer School on the Appreciation of Fine Wine

Emperor Hadrian faces death

Animula, vagula, blandula
Hospes comesque corporis
Quae nunc abibis in loca
Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos.

P. Aelius Hadrianus Imp.

Gentle little soul, fluttering, flickering,
Guest and companion of my body,
Drifting, descending for parts
Dark, forbidding, and barren,
Linger still to play once more on these sunlit shores.

Translated by Neel Burton

The Oxford Course on Wine

James Flewellen (author of the Oxford Wine Blog) and I are pleased to announce a new summer school on the appreciation of fine wine, to be held at Exeter College, Oxford between the 11th and 17th of August 2012.

Amongst the highlights of the summer school are a focus session on champagne, our own ‘Judgement of Oxford’ in which you will blind taste some of the finest wines from around the world, and a friendly and informal blind tasting match to round-off the week and put your newly-acquired skills to the test.

You can find out more about the Oxford Course on Wine by visiting our brand new website (just click on the picture above) and/or by writing to us. For now we are keeping a mailing list of people who might be interested in the course, so thank you for letting us know if you would like to have your name added to this list.

Thank you also for forwarding the link to friends and colleagues. We have decided to cap off numbers at 18 to keep the group intimate and ensure that there is plenty of wine to go around, but if there is a lot of interest we may well look into doing a re-run of the course.

Cheers!

The Cloud, by PB Shelley

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.

Recipe for Tiramisu

Ingredients (serves 6)
1. 3 eggs
2. 3 tablespoons caster sugar
3. 3 tablespoons marsala wine or madeira or sherry
4. 250g mascarpone
5. savoiardi (lady fingers) biscuits
6. amaretti biscuits
7. expresso coffee
8. cocoa

Instructions
1. Separate the egg yolks from the whites
2. Beat the yolks together with the sugar and gradually fold in the mascarpone and marsala wine
3. Beat the whites into stiff peaks and fold into the above mixture
4. Layer a dish with a small fraction of this combined mixture
5. Make expresso coffee, ideally in a cafetière
6. Dip the savoiardi and amaretti biscuits into the coffee and lay them out in the dish (see picture below)
7. Add a second layer of the combined mixture
8. Add a second layer of coffee-soaked biscuits
9. Add a third layer of the combined mixture
10. Dust with cocoa
11. Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours

Thanks to James Flewellen, author of the Oxford Wine Blog, for teaching me this wonderful recipe.

The second layer of the mascarpone mixture is about to go on

The Day is Done

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an Eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me,
That my soul cannot resist;

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life’s endless toil and endeavour;
And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow