Sonnet 94: Shakespeare’s Unmoved Mover
Louis Petrich + Eva Brann
This episode takes us through a close reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 94, which many consider to be his most enigmatic. Annapolis tutor Eva Brann brings a clear argument to the poem, taking us quatrain by quatrain through the poet’s descriptions of the beloved’s power over the poet through cold detachment and contingent self-mastery. For Brann, the sonnet provides exemplary evidence that “love and logic, passion and thinking, are closely intertwined.” The existence of the sonnet also masterfully enacts its revenge on the stone-cold beloved, whose legacy is defined by the sonnet itself, and its lingering concluding couplet: “For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds; lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.” We also explore the idea that the mastery of logic and language—when kindly and thoughtfully wielded—can prevent the passions of human nature from issuing in inarticulate violence and corruption. This episode is hosted by Louis Petrich.
In this Episode
Guest Eva Brann
Eva Brann is a tutor at St. John’s College. She is currently reading and studying the Platonic dialogue Euthydemus.
Host Louis Petrich
Louis Petrich is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, he is exploring Euripides in freshman seminar, teaching Pascal in freshman laboratory, and leading a philosophy and theology tutorial in the Graduate Institute.
The power and beauty of Homer’s imagery in the Iliad is undeniable, and his scenes of battle often prompt vexing questions about ancient and modern virtues. Can killing and dying in war be beautiful? Is a just cause required for glory to be gained? Is war a courageous way of fulfilling human nature and, ultimately, of embracing the reality that death awaits us all? This episode, in which Annapolis host Louis Petrich and tutor Erica Beall delve into the dramatic contrasts that make Homer’s work powerful and war potentially beautiful, invites us to question our own modern perspectives on this ancient text.
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This episode takes us through a close reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 94, which many consider to be his most enigmatic. Annapolis tutor Eva Brann brings a clear argument to the poem, taking us quatrain by quatrain through the poet’s descriptions of the beloved’s power over the poet through cold detachment and contingent self-mastery.
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