On cicadas and cicadas

 

[Note: In this case the Posts decision not to publish was in spite of my including a P.S. that noted my expertise, citing the article in Classical and Modern Literature noted elsewhere on this site.]

 

Dear Editor:

 

I have lived here long enough for this to be my third go-round with the periodical cicadas, but it is the first to be a media event. This time there is more noise in advance of their appearing than they themselves will make when they actually get going.

 

I suppose the Post and others figure that the public now craves some long-term stability in the world, since there is none in, say, U.S. foreign policy, and so feature what one can find of it in nature. But is it really necessary to palm off what has been said over the years about the ordinary annual cicada as if it were the same animal? As far as is known, the obscure ancient writers cited in your article Scratching the 17-Year Poetic Itch (Metro, May 16) meant the same creatures as did more well known poets such as Homer (who for some reason calls them lily-voiced at one point in the Iliad, saying that the droning of a council of Trojan elders sounded like them). Namely, these are the insects which appear in Southern Europe a bit later in the summer than Brood X here, but every year.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

(5/17/04)

 

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