Homer in quarantine

If you ask us whether we like being in self-isolation, we’d say absolutely not! There’s nothing worse for a spinning top than to find itself brought to a sudden halt.

However, if you ask Homer whether he would have enjoyed being in self-isolation, he’d probably say: well, my much-suffering brilliant friend, that depends.

What do you mean, you wily bard?

It depends on the circumstances.

At its most basic, it goes like this: if you’re isolating in a wooden horse ready for stealth invasion, that’s very good. It doesn’t last long, and the guarantee of success prevents those inside from focusing on their confined predicament. When it’s done and, well, dusted, you barely remember the past pain of brief incarceration.

That’s not all. If you find yourself isolated on an enchanted island with a scrumptious, ox-eyed sorceress, that’s even better. When you’re not watching the wine-dark sea from the heights of buxom melancholy, you feel pretty good that you’re isolating on an island, thus going to the root of isolation itself, which, as a sorrowful word which you find ambrosial in the circumstance, comes from insula, the island of sweet captivity. Isolated this way, you feel equally insulated from the worries of lesser, un-isolated mortals.

The blind bard of Chios will nevertheless agree that not all confinement is good, especially when you’re eaten alive by wanderlust but you have to fulfil your marital and, truth be told, narrative duties to your wife and epic poetry. Then your own boisterous Ionian island feels like a cage, perhaps even like a flat in east London, with nothing else for comfort than the rosy-fingered dawn plucking the chords of our common affliction.

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