19 Feb 2015 On the Road with Moses Hadas

A few nights ago, I had a dream that I was on the road traveling in a car alone and picked up a young man who was hitchhiking. I was a little concerned about how safe I would be with him in the car, but he seemed smart enough and rather sophisticated, strangely, since he was, after all, hitchhiking.

In the real world, I’m struggling with what everyday becomes more and more a possibility: moving to Atlanta. It would only be for a couple of years while my daughter gets a graduate degree in accounting and her CPA. I’ve been dreading the drive out there, west coast to east coast, dreading traveling alone, and wondering at what difficulties I might encounter on the way.

And now this dream of a hitchhiker. The hitchhiker’s name was Moses Hadas. I remember thinking that that was a rather unusual name. Names don’t generally come to me in dreams, and when I woke I googled it. Turns out Moses Hadas (1900 – 1966) was one of the leading classical scholars of the 20th century and a translator of many ancient Greek texts.

The last twenty-two years I have been reading a lot of ancient Greek writing, from Aeschylus to Aristophanes, and I wondered if I’d picked up any of Moses Hadas’s translations. I searched on Amazon, and there was a paperback I recognized immediately. It was a small, mass-market paperback of the complete plays of Sophocles. The plays in this particular volume were translated by Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb (1841 – 1905), and his King James english was edited by Moses Hadas to bring it up to more modern tastes. I hadn’t picked up this volume in years, and was never really aware of Moses Hadas as editor.

But here’s the thing. In 1993, I went to Greece and traveled around alone for two and one-half months. The only book I took with me was this little paperback of Sophocles’s plays. Same cover even. I remember reading portions of Oedipus at Colonus while at a hill in the middle of current-day Colonus. This particular event in Oedipus’s life was his death there at Colonus. He’d spent many years wandering about the Greek countryside with his daughter Antigone to care for him after he’d blinded himself and gone into exile following his downfall as the King of Thebes.

So here I was on the road again in my dream and accompanied by the classicists Moses Hadas, or at least his namesake. Wikipedia tells me that Moses Hadas was raised in Atlanta. Just another lost soul trying to find his way back home.

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