Homeric Hot or Not

(Hotness Ratings Out of 10)


By birth divine and radiantly tressed
And beautiful and of a charm possessed
That turns men into pigs if she’s inclined,
A better girl than Circe none can find,

While of the boys, for clever, handsome, strong
Odysseus all female hearts must long,
He’s only yours on loan, though, not for life,
And will not quite forget he has a wife.

Of other women, Helen’s the most fair.
Her face can pay her passage anywhere.
Such gorgeousness has never loved in vain.
She’s trouble but she may be worth the pain.

And Diomedes is a catch as well,
A warrior with valiant tales to tell.
No other hero boasts the deeds he’s done,
Who fought the Gods of Love and War and won.

Briseis is a joy to hear and see,
A comely lady, full of sympathy.
To have this gentlewoman at their side
Some men have fought and other men have died.

There is a good man in amongst the rest.
If that’s your thing, Patroclus is the best,
Good-looking, wise and skilful in the fray,
Noble and kind – and just a trifle gay.

Although you met her in the realm below,
An old celeb who gets a cameo,
You won’t get Ariadne round you curled.
Not in her league? You are not in her world!

Achilles is majestic but beware:
Till Time lays down his scythe a grudge he’ll bear.
Apologies he’ll gracelessly refuse.
For him life is a game which all must lose.

To moral patience an embodied hymn,
Penelope is dutiful and prim,
Loyal and to be trusted not to stray,
A little dull, but faithful anyway.

He must with some fine talents be inspired
Who won the woman many men desired
But stay with him? She’d rather start a war.
This Menelaus must be quite a bore.

Devoted, helpless, poor Andromache
Is clinging and dependent as can be.
Can she protect your child when you are gone?
That’s not a theme you’ll want to think upon.

Meriones must surely know his place:
He’s second fiddle to the double bass,
An extra on life’s stage and, so you know,
A pretty thug. It’s best to let him go.

Take leave of Chryseis while still you can.
Her father is a very jealous man
And well connected too, which soon will make
Such problems that with sickness you will shake.

Big Ajax will—what ev’ry woman fears—
Embarrass you by bursting into tears
And when that doesn’t work, as you will see,
He does the silent treatment perfectly.

Schooled is Calypso in seduction’s art
But think of this: if she besieged your heart
For seven Springs and seven Autumns long
And could not capture it, there’s something wrong.

Hector with fatal courage is endued.
He’s reckless, stubborn, proud and often rude
And never listens and, to tell the truth,
A widow he will leave you in your youth.

Cassandra may look lovely on your arm
But this sweet damsel is a bad luck charm
And if her eyes meet yours you can be sure
Your death is destined to be premature.

Prestigious Agamemnon, King of Men,
Will try to steal you from his friend and then
Upset your father and, be in no doubt,
His wife will kill you both when she finds out.

I won’t cut Clytaemnestra any slack.
She’s sleeping with your mate behind your back
And, rather worse, should once the chance arise,
The pair of them are plotting your demise,

While as a trophy Paris is a flop.
His parents know he’s a deceitful fop.
His girlfriend scarcely likes him any more.
His judgment might be sound but hers was poor.

Ah, gentlemen, avoid the Siren’s lair.
For she will break your heart and strip you bare.
A song is cheap, however bright the tune,
And life too precious to be sold so soon.

And Shepherd Polyphemus is so rough
That never meeting him at all’s enough.
He has a savage mien, a soul as grim.
He is a monster. Stay away from him.


Morrison Handley-Schachler is a retired Chartered Public Finance Accountant and Lecturer in Accounting. He has a doctorate in Ancient History and has published articles on ancient Persian history, accounting history, financial crime, auditing and financial risk management. He lives in South Queensferry, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Scotland.

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18 Responses

  1. James A. Tweedie

    I highly recommend this pithy/witty collection as a worthy companion to the Cliffs Notes summary of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Indeed, there is a PhD thesis hiding inside each character’s quatrainal sobriquet. In short, a classy classical classic collection. Thank you, Morrison.

    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Thank you very much for your appreciative comments, James.

  2. Roy Peterson

    I agree with James. Each quatrain is a condensed nugget regarding the characters with strengths, weaknesses, warnings, and foibles on display from Homer. Excellent read and well done!

    • Morrison Handley- Schachler

      Thank you for your kind comments, Roy. Much appreciated. Homer provides so much material to work with.

  3. David Whippman

    I love this idea of modern parlance and standards applied to classical literature (I attempted it myself with Shakespeare). Well done.

    • Morrison Handley- Schachler

      I’m glad you enjoyed the read, David. I have enjoyed reading your poetry as well, especially the Vllainelle of the Wicked Queen – full of feeling.

  4. Norma Pain

    These poems are so enjoyable, clever and very funny. Thank you Morrison.

  5. Paul Freeman

    Like profiles and ratings on a dating app, this had a vibrant, modern feel.

    Thanks for the fun read, Morrison.

  6. Joseph S. Salemi

    These are brilliant little vignettes from classical literature! And the nice thing about them is that they are not predictable or corny — the poet has added a tart splash of cynicism, skepticism, and off-the-cuff dismissal to every single one of them. How delightful to see a writer admit that Penelope is a bore, and that Ajax is a posturing clod, and that Calypso is an incompetent vamp.

    One problem with classicists is that they are mesmerized by the tales they study, and often fail to see that many characters in ancient literature have just as many foibles and faults as persons in any century.

    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Thank you very much for your perceptive comments, Joseph. I am glad that you enjoyed the read.

  7. C.B. Anderson

    Very well done, Morrison. Hence to Ilium! There shall we find our likenesses.

    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Thank you very much. I’m sure most of us can find ourselves in there somewhere.

  8. Margaret Coats

    Witty diction in perfect meter, with strong sense for the epigrammatic potential of the quatrain! Morrison, yours is the most entertaining and easiest to read of any 88-line poem we’ve seen. Can’t agree with all the rankings (my likes and dislikes get mixed up here), but you have pegged the personalities.

    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Thank you very much for the comments, Margaret. Very glad that you liked the poem. Views on the rankings and on the merits of some of Homer’s great characters will undoubtedly vary.

  9. Monika Cooper

    I just love Penelope. I find her and her loom mystically fascinating.

    But I guess a faithful woman is only ever fully appreciated by a select. . . one.

    Greatly enjoyed these irreverent and insightful epigrams.

    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Very glad you enjoyed the poem, Monika. Yes, arguably a bit unfair to Penelope, who is holding everything together, along with Telemachus, back on Ithaca. Certainly unfair to Andromache.


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