The 2018 Chronolit Chariot Race results have just come in ….
Race 1. Greek Handicap (1200 m)
Only five starters in the field, so more of an exhibition event. Three pairs outdistanced Arrian’s Alexander and Lucian’s Chattering Courtesans.
1st place : Daphnis and Chloe by Longus
2nd place : Chaereas and Callihroe by Chariton
3rd place : Aethiopike (Theagenes and Charikleia) by Heliodorus
Scratched: Quite a flurry of late withdrawals once the condition of the track was seen. Josephus, Pausanias, Athenaeus and Plotinus failed to line up at the gates.
Race 2 : Roman Cup (3200 m) : This was the race everyone came to see. The Aeneid from the Virgil stable was the outright favourite, but odds also shortened for Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Seneca’s Medea. It was always a close thing until the final corner with three teams running neck to neck. A photo finish had to be called, with Jupiter providing the lightning flash …
1st place has to go to The Aeneid. Photo finish between Ovid’s Metamorphoses and surprise outsider Amores: two very different reads from the same trainer
Scratched: Plutarch, carrying too much weight in the heavy conditions, and Pliny the Younger, expected to be too inexperienced against the favourites.
History Stakes (1600 m)
Very few competitors from outside the Mediterranean this year, so a hastily organised race for the Historians and Comics to fill the race card. In the History stakes, early favourite Caesar’s Civil War failed to meet punters’ expectations, and without Plutarch at the track, Livy’s War with Hannibal was a clear winner.
1st place : History of Rome, books XXI to XXX (The War with Hannibal) by Livy
2nd place : Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
3rd place : Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian
Comedy Classic (2200 m)
Most punters left before the final race, to clear the Colosseum chariot park and avoid heavy traffic on the Via Litterati. Diehard fans were treated to Ovid’s Amores taking a second prize for the year with an easy win in this race, with Apuleius’ Golden Ass second, and The Satyricon by Petronius a creditable third.
But seriously folks, how was 2018?
Firstly, The New Testament, and therefore the entire Holy Bible, finished. (In truth, of the 27 books of the New Testament, I read 11 in full, and only skimmed the other 16 books, but let’s not quibble shall we? The Lord hates quibblers.)
The non Biblical classics started with Catullus and Cicero around 60 BC, and wound up with Augustine (yet to be posted) in 397 AD, covering the better part of 400 years and pretty much seeing off the Romans as both literary and world powers. A total of 56 classics for the year.
In addition there were a further 90 contemporary titles covering science fiction, fantasy, horror, historical fiction, whodunnits, comedy, young adults and childrens literature. My Goodreads account tells me I totalled 35,730 pages (so that’s an average of 98 pages a day, woo hoo!) with the shortest book being any of the Mr Men meets Dr Who series (32 pages each) and the longest being It by Stephen King at 1090 pages. The most popular book I read according to Goodreads readers was Nevermoor : the Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (which I gave a 4/5), and now the sequel is out so that’s a must read for 2019.
Progress on the Chronolit quest
My current list of books qualifying for the quest and ranging from 4000 BC to 1950 AD is approximately 1400. Having read 211 to date, progress sits at about 15%. Not bad, huh?
Other lists are not so successful, with Martin Edward’s 100 Classic Crime novels at only 3/100 (3%) and 1001 Children’s Books to read before you grow up at 45/1001 (4.5%). Both these spreadsheet lists were wiped out with a laptop battery failure but I have access to the paper copies so will recreate these spreadsheets when time permits.
What about 2019?
It feels like a real achievement to wave goodbye to the ancients, although I am aware much of my reading of the philosophies was fairly rudimentary and superficial. But put that behind me, because the Christian dominance of Western literature looms over the New Year horizon.
If I stick to the original goal of one classic per week, give or take the occasional comet-like celestial intervention, that will put me in the neighbourhood of Chaucer by the end of the year, ready to borrow a cup of sugar or take in his laundry while he’s off on a pilgrimage somewhere; and cover approximately 1000 years, including the Koran, Beowulf, The Arabian Nights, The Tale of Genji, Magna Carta, and a Venerable Bede or two along the way. I am also introducing classical music into the mix, but this will only be a start with some Gregorian Chant and the odd troubadour song or two.
In addition, I plan to read my remaining 12 Miss Marples, the 12 Blandings books by PG, and some Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpes, some Asimov and Robin Hobb. So that should total …. Mmm, more than a breadbasket but less than a water bucket suspended from a helicopter. The truth is I don’t know where I’ll get to in 2019. My bones tell me it could be a year of momentous yet un-literary happenings, so let’s just jump in and start dogpaddling with the current and see where we go (ready, Kimmy?)