"Bees are a metaphor," says Keyne Cheshire, professor and chair of Classics, who recently delivered two invited lectures, "Beekeeping: Old and New" at the National Junior classical League at Wake Forest University in July; and "The Symbology of the Honeybee in Ancient Greek culture" at the Yiasou Greek Festival in Charlotte in September. He proudly displays a N.C. certified Beekeeper diploma in his Chambers office.
Cheshire never set out to study the classical poetics of bees, any more than he set out to be a beekeeper. But he finds the twin pursuits immanently rewarding.
His first season of producing Nine Muses honey in his backyard yielded enough bounty to warrant a trip to the Charlotte regional Farmers Market. The night before on a lark, he posted the honey's availability to academic colleagues on a faculty list-serve. All the honey was collegially claimed by breakfast.
Aristotle thought honey came from dew, or perhaps fell off of rainbows, says Cheshire, who has researched and translated an increasing body of bee knowledge in recent years. He's studied Pindar and Hesiod and Homer and Semonides of Amorgos, poets who have variously portrayed honeybee drones as the epitome of the lazy man, or the queen as symbol of noble woman. In the Callimachean aesthetic, the bee is a symbol of purity, even of poetry itself, as in this Cheshire translation of Callimachus' "Hymn to Apollo":
Bees bring not just any water.
Pure, untouched, it wells up from a sacred spring.
A tiny trickle, pinnacle of prime...
Read the entire story in the Davidson Journal.