The siren’s call of Homeric lit first touched me in an undergraduate course on classical and medieval literature. It was as if rosy-fingered dawn enlightened my mind as the magic of language of the immortal rhapsode entered my soul.
Though at that time I was working on two bachelor’s degrees (in English/Creative Writing and French), I decided to use my French literary research in as classical a way as possible. I had focused on French and Francophone theater, so I began researching French playwrights who were inspired by writers of antiquity.
Beginning in the 20th century and working my way back to the 17th, I found a plethora of writers who relished, rewrote, revised, and revisited classical works in their drama.
Most notably in the 20th century was Jean Giraudoux, a pacifist playwright who parallels the France of the time between the two world wars to pre-war Troy in his play, La Guerre de Troie n’aura pas lieu (The Trojan War will not take place). Hector becomes a pacifist (not unlike Giraudoux himself) who does all in his power to prevent the war but who ultimately cannot fight fate. Many writers
in Giraudoux’s circle took to dealing with the war/occupation of France by returning to classical literature and incorporating contemporary anachronisms into their plays to further the parallels to their time.
But the further one explores backwards in time, the stronger the classical influence becomes. Pierre Corneille, a 17th century playwright (and in my opinion, more akin to Shakespeare than Molière is) took a strong interest in Roman history. He wrote a marvelous Julius Caesaresque play called Cinna, ou la clémence d’Auguste (Cinna, or the clemency of Augustus). This play focuses on the rise and fall of a conspiracy against the life of Caesar Augustus (Octavian). Other classical works of Corneille include La mort de Pompée (The death of Pompey) and Horace.
Having studied French for so long, it became my ardent desire to study the classical languages, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to do so through HM Classics. Thanks to Helen McVeigh, I have been enjoying Greek and Latin classes for several months, and I am currently continuing my love of Classics through an M.A. program in Classical Studies at Villanova University.
 An English translation of this play by Christopher Fry is available under the title “Tiger at the Gates.”
 The theme of pre-occupation France and Troy has been treated by Simone Weil in her article L’Iliade ou la poème de la force. Jean Anouilh, another playwright, wrote a play of Antigone
in a similar style to Giraudoux.