25 November: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

At the start of each academic year at Athena College, Professor Coleman Silk would explain to his students that “All of European literature springs from a fight.” A quarrel over a woman. Then he would pick up his copy of ‘The Iliad’ and read to the class the opening lines: “Divine Muse, sing of the ruinous wrath of Achilles…”

We’re quoting from the beginning of Philip Roth’s novel “The Human Stain” because it seems to us to be quite jarring to talk about the violation of a human right (as violence against women is defined by the UN), and to note that it is ratified in the so-called cradle of civilisation.

In an entirely different context and miles and miles away, Eugenio Montale used to wonder whether a withered leaf was more genuine than a fresh shoot. We’ll leave that doubt to the poet; for our part, we’re certain of one thing: violence against women leaves an indelible stain and withers the very meaning of life. We hope that a future Homer (male or female) will one day be able to sing to the Muse that this unsightly human stain has been removed, eradicated once and for all.

Name Day:
St Catherine of Alexandria