I'm rereading Tam Lin, and I'd totally forgotten how much it makes me want to read the classics. The English sort and the Greek and Roman sort. I usually wind up digging out my Norton Anthology of English Literature. So I sat down with one of Euripides' plays out of one of my textbooks. I picked Helen, because it's not the play I know I'll have to read for class and I particularly like the bits of Greek myth related to the Trojan War.
I have a sort of funny relationship to Greek literature. For some unknown reason of unknown origins, I always really wanted a classical education, the sort of thing taught in British public schools a century ago. I wanted to be taught Greek and Latin, and maybe French and German too, and be made to read all the classics. I really have no idea where I got this particular desire, but it's stuck with me. Going to an (often not very rigorous) alternative school wasn't especially conducive to this kind of education, though I did wind up reading a couple of Greek plays and some (very minimal) Shakespeare. Otherwise most of the books I've read that are usually taught in school I read just because I wanted to. Fortunately the benefit of said alternative school was being encouraged to go in my own directions, and whatever reading I did outside of class being credited towards my graduation (it thus looks from my transcript like I took eight years of English classes in my four years of high school). Still, I don't feel like I've read all the things I should.
Every time I reread Tam Lin all this comes to mind. This book is absolutely full of literary allusions, and every time I read it I pick up on more of them. I always take the reading as an opportunity to read more of the books Janet mentions reading in her classes--my ultimate goal is to have read all of them. Every time I reread Tam Lin, I get a little closer, feel a little more well-read. I'm looking forward to college largely to have classes as an excuse to work my way towards this goal.
As for Helen--I rather enjoyed it, though I do think literature this old is the better for having a teacher to explain it. I should, I suppose, have read the introduction, but that felt like taking the momentum out of my impulse. I was rather surprised by my finishing the play itself. We'll see what else Tam Lin inspires me to impulse-read.