Sorry I'm late. The Gustav Mahler Jugendsymphonie is in town, and I was held back by the conductor, Claudio Abbado—terrible bore, please don't tell I said. But enough about that. Did everyone enjoy the reading of... Wait. What are you doing here? Did you not receive my phone message of 1:43 a.m. Tuesday last? Oh, you received it. Then, as you well know, you are no longer welcome in the Homer reading group.

I was completely serious. You are either in my reading group, or you are in Kouri's Virgil Symposium. A woman cannot drink from two fountains at once, nor can she butter her bread on three sides. You've been sneaking about and I've caught you, so get out. No, do not finish your ouzo. Just go.

Childish? How is that childish? Please, I'd like to know.

Yes, well, that's all very interesting. As much as I hate to interrupt that fascinating monologue, I'm afraid you're wasting the others' valuable learning time. Gather up your vocabulary cards and parsing sheets. Take your lists of Attic equivalents and Homeric exceptions from the push-board in the hall. You may return my Smyth and pay any outstanding copy-charge fees by campus mail. For now, . You are no longer invited to my birthday.

No, it's out of the question. I am afraid you have wounded me, and the wound cannot so easily be healed, two-faced woman of apologies. I might reconsider, were it not for the litany of kicks and bruises I have received: your ignorance of the dual, your difficulty with the circumstantial participle, your tendency to conflate clauses of natural and actual result.

You are, put simply, a lazy student. Like the wren—who has his food dropped into his beak by his mother's claws, and then, by and by, grows, and, on the day he should be able to fly, prefers to fold his wings and nestle on the eagle's crest—so have you been in my weekly reading group. Well, no longer. Go.

As she packs up, let us begin. Book VII, lines 1-12—who has questions? Questions... anyone? Well, if there aren't any, I've an amusing anecdote. I was lunching earlier at Bobbo with Jack Brankowsky from Artforum—I review major openings for them. Well, Brankowsky found, in his left-hand coat pocket, a pheasant bone from a $5,000-a-plate fundraiser held for the Met last January. You see, it's the most amusing story, because Terry Eagleton was quite drunk, and... I'm sorry, who is talking? Aren't you gone?

Oh, I am a histrionic martinet, am I? I, who when orchestrating the summer Ottoman Karagoz series for Professor Buchloh was kind enough to give you the role of craft-service supervisor? I? Who entrusted you with the title of reading-group secretary, shepherded you through books I through VI of the Iliad, and invited you into my own home to look at my collection of bibelots? Histrionic? Well, call me what you will. As Waugh said, "People can call you anything they like, as long as they don't call you a pigeon pie and eat you."

As long as you're still lingering around unwelcome, I've half a mind to return these chocolates you gave me. I shouldn't accept a gift from such a person as you. Yes, take back these chocolates! They are still here in the desk. There are two left. See, yes, here they are, two ginger bonbons, underneath the cardboard divider. See? Take the box with you, as well. I no longer accept the gift.

And, in case you're wondering, I've not forgotten that you have my Middle Liddel and Lexicon Of The Homeric Dialect. Deborah, the new reading-group secretary, if she should choose to accept—shall we talk after group, Deborah? Yes, Deborah will contact you regarding their return, as well as compensation for any highlighting or cocked bindings. That's correct, you no longer hold the office of group secretary. I fire you.

Is that maiden, your tongue, crying out again from behind her picket fence? Please quiet her. I rescind my invitation to her of last month. Don't be coy; it was to program my personal web site. It goes without saying that your hand will no longer take dictation for my column in the newsletter. Return the mailing list to me at your earliest convenience, as those addresses are personal and private. I trust you will delete any and all reading-group contact information from your Outlook folders, as well. And give me your key to the treasury box!

I know you are being absolutely ludicrous, but what am I?

Oh, now I am getting a migraine. This is too-too sad-making. Let us be graceful, I beg you. As in book XXIV, line 507, when Achilles looks down upon Priam, supplicant at his feet, I am weary with lamentations and grief. Please, do not make a scene. Let us not go through the unkind motions of returning gifts. As a gesture of goodwill, I shall accept those last two chocolates.

I said I shall accept and eat those chocolates. . Yes, goodbye then, and take care not to let the door slam. Now, who in the audience—who in the group, I mean, can give me the third person singular, aorist optative middle for ? The dative plural for lie? The nominative singular for woman? The accusative singular for good teacher? Go. ! Excuse me, I believe that pencil belongs to the group.