Most recent update:2/1/2004; 11:06:35 AM

 Monday, January 05, 2004

CHATTER: Osama Classicus?

Clearly Osama bin Laden was jealous of all the coverage rogueclassicism was giving Saddam Hussein of late, since the former decided to drop what might be some ClassCon into his latest purported tape:

Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, the West today is doing its utmost to tarnish jihad and kill anyone seeking jihad.

The West is supported in this endeavour by hypocrites.

This is because they all know that jihad is the effective power to foil all their conspiracies.

Jihad is the path, so seek it.

This is because if we seek to deter them with any means other than Islam, we would be like the one who goes round in circles.

We would also be like our forefathers, the al-Ghasasinah [Arab people who lived in a state historically located in the north-west of the Persian empire].

The concern of their seniors was to be appointed officers for the Romans and to be named kings in order to safeguard the interests of the Romans by killing their brothers of the peninsula's Arabs.

Such is the case of the new al-Ghasasinah; namely, Arab rulers.

Actually, it probably isn't ClassCon ... I can't find any mention of these kingdoms in Bowersock (Roman Arabia) or Millar (The Roman Near East). More likely we're dealing with ByzCon ... whatever the case, he's clearly bought into the U.S.-as-Rome thing ...

8:57:00 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Caesar and Cleo at the NYSE

If you've got some time tomorrow (January 6), you might want to flip CNN or MSNBC on at 9.15  a.m. or so and watch the festivities as Caesar and Cleopatra open the trading session. They're actually there to promote the change of name of Park Place Entertainment to Caesar's Entertainment Inc.. Should make for a good photo, at any rate.

8:38:42 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: There Oughtta Be A Law

Specifically, against destroying nice images one has in one's brain. A columnist in the Scotsman, ferinstance, in a piece on Anglo-French relations drops this little cluster bomb:

President Francois Mitterrand, for instance, once quipped of Margaret Thatcher that she "has the eyes of Caligula and the lips of Marilyn Monroe" ...

The Caligula part I could handle, but now, whenever I try to retrieve those myriad images of Marilyn that have been stuffed into my cerebellum for the past thirty or so years (i.e. since puberty), all I see is Margaret Thatcher. *shudder*


8:34:05 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Just testing to see if I can post from school ...
11:29:29 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

BLOGWATCH: @ Caelestis

Caelestis is the (sometimes chatty) blog of a Ph.D. candidate in Indo-European Studies (Classical linguistics) at UCLA. The latest entry gives a brief glimpse into the APA meeting through the eyes of one of its participants ...

5:47:26 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


nonae januariae

5:36:42 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

REVIEW: Disarming Venus

The Decatur Daily has a nice little review of Greg Curtis, Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo. Here's the incipit:

She's six feet, seven inches tall, is missing both arms and earlobes, is minus one foot and a nipple and aged between 20 and 50, yet she is considered the epitome of beauty. She is the Venus de Milo.

She is so familiar as a logo for all sorts of items and a symbol of the Louvre and France that her Gallic origin is taken for granted. Art historian Gregory Curtis explores the "birth of Venus" as we visit the island of Melos in 1820 where she was unearthed under the gaze of a French ensign.

The saga of the statue is complex and tied in with French history and national pride. Melos was under Turkish rule, which considered all artifacts as the property of the Ottoman Empire regardless of their origin. Young Ensign Oliver Voutier, an amateur archeologist whose ship was taking on supplies at the Aegean island, decided to stroll among the hills. There he happened upon a farmer who was digging in the ground in search of marble pieces to use for a foundation he was building.

What did the farmer expose? Not usable marble, but ". . . a woman, nude from the waist up, her legs covered in wet drapery that was falling from her hips.

. . . " The statue was in two pieces along with a broken marble arm holding an apple and two herms — columns with carved heads.

More ...

5:20:47 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NUNTII: Afghan Looting Redux

A few weeks ago we bemoaned the fact that the Guardian seemed to be the only media outlet covering the ongoing looting situation in Afghanistan. Today, the Washington Times picks up the ball:

Warlords and thieves are stripping bare a recent archaeological discovery described as "the Pompeii of Central Asia" while the central government and Western scientists are powerless to intervene, authorities say.
    They say the loss of irreplaceable artifacts from the ancient city is just the worst example in a pattern of widespread looting of some of the world´s most precious archaeological sites by mafia-style gangs seizing upon the chaos that followed the Taliban´s fall.
    The ancient city stretching 25 miles across was recently discovered at Kharwar, in remote central Logar province. From a trickle of confiscated artifacts, archaeologists estimate that the city dates from the seventh century shortly before the arrival of Islam though some pieces suggest it might be as much as 500 years older.
    "There hasn´t been a discovery like this for a century. It´s the Pompeii of Central Asia," said Anna Rosa Rodriguez of the Society for the Protection of Afghanistan´s Cultural Heritage, a private organization.
    Miss Rodriguez said the losses outweighed even the destruction by the Taliban regime of two enormous Buddhas carved into the rocks at Bamiyan.
    "Can you imagine? This is a second-century city waiting to be discovered, and legitimate scientists cannot get there."

More ... perhaps the momentum of outrage is building ... or can be built.

5:04:03 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

GOSSIP: Movie Release Dates

According to a Reuters piece, Troy will be in the theatres May 21; Oliver Stone's Alexander the Great hits the silver screen on November 5. It also warns us to brace ourselves for some "learned exegesis along with a tub of popcorn".

4:59:14 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

REVIEW: Medea Adaptation

We haven't had a review of a performance of a tragedy in a long time, so it seems okay to alert folks to this potentially interesting adaptation of Euripide's Medea as reported in Lebanon's Daily Star. Although ultimately the screenplay gets a bad review, it's an interesting idea:

There’s nothing subtle about Bint Asl (Girl from a good family) currently playing at the Monnot Theater. For fifty-odd minutes Darina al-Jundy trembles, cries, stomps, crawls and barks orders as memory after memory consumes her on stage. When it’s all over, and every morbid detail exposed, the spot light shines not on Jundy’s crouched figure, but on the bomb she has wrapped as a wedding present for her ex-husband.
The message, then, is painfully obvious: the violence will continue.
It’s a message that Jad al-Hage, the author of Bint Asl, repeats often. “The problem with us, we Lebanese, is that we tend to forget very quickly,” he said following Saturday’s performance. “We’ve perfected survival in its worst form.”

When he returned to Lebanon in 1997 he was amazed at how quickly society had returned to normality, “No one ever asks ‘Why did this all happen?’ No one wants to know … And all this time,” he continued, “the seeds (of disaster) are blooming again in darkness.”

Inspired by Euripides’ classic tragedy Medea, Bint Asl is an emotional re-telling of a woman’s betrayal and revenge, set during and after Lebanon’s civil war.

In Euripides’ version, Medea falls in love with Jason of the Argonauts, and saves him from disaster. She betrays her family and sails off with him. In the course of Medea’s escape, her father gives chase. She then kills her brother and throws his limbs over-board one by one to hinder his pursuit. Many years and two children later, despite her victories and her sacrifices, Jason decides to marry a young princess. Enraged, Medea sends him a fatal wedding gift, and then kills their children.

“The first version I wrote,” said Hage, “was very hard. It was more of an exorcism than a play. But I couldn’t find anyone willing to direct it.” Lebanese society won’t accept this, he was told, “but I said that it (would); metaphorically, we all killed our children.”

Five years on, and countless drafts later, it’s a somewhat softer Bint Asl who strides on stage and demands a cigarette. While not as macabre as Medea’s, her story is just as dramatic.

The tone is set by her first memory: “There used to be white flowers here,” she says, pointing. “Here, and over there, as well. Why aren’t they here anymore?” she demands of the waiter (played by Boutrous Huna). This question, like almost every question she spits out in the course of the play, goes unanswered.

more ... I wonder if anyone has used Medea in a Palestinian context ...

4:54:25 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

REVIEW (?): Peloponnesian War

The New Yorker has what appears to be a review of Kagan's The Peloponnesian War which is more of an overview of the war itself than anything else. Here's the incipit:

The early spring of 431 B.C. witnessed, at Athens, the outbreak of a great war, the commencement of a great book, and the première of a great play.

The war was the culmination of fifty years of simmering tensions between two superpowers: Athens, a direct democracy, and Sparta, a militaristic oligarchy. It was, naturally, advertised as a war of liberation (each side claimed to be freeing some injured third party), but it was really a struggle for total domination of the Greek world. It began relatively small—a diplomatic crisis involving Corinth, a Spartan ally; some low-level combat in a town near Athens—but metastasized into a conflict that lasted nearly three decades, involved numerous states, and resulted, finally, in the defeat of Athens and the abolition of its democratic institutions. Because Sparta and its allies dominated the southern peninsula known as the Peloponnese—and because the men who wrote the histories of the conflict were usually Athenians—the war came to be called the Peloponnesian. As the Yale historian Donald Kagan dryly points out in “The Peloponnesian War” (Viking; $29.95), his brisk, if tendentious, new account, the Spartans probably thought of the conflict as the Athenian War; but then there were no Spartan historians to call it that.

The great book was the work of an affluent young Athenian who began taking notes “at the very outbreak” of hostilities, on the hunch that this would be “a great war and more worth writing about than any of those which had taken place in the past.” About the life of the historian we know relatively little, apart from the crucial fact that he himself commanded troops in the war—something you might guess anyway from the soldierly lack of sentimentality that characterizes his book, which would in time come to be prized for its insistence on letting the reader “see the past clearly.” This soldier-historian gave no official title to his work; it is usually referred to as, simply, the History. He was called Thucydides.

The great play was by an Athenian citizen in his mid-fifties who had been writing for the theatre since the age of thirty. Like the war, the play involved some small-scale violence in Corinth that eventually made its way to Athens; as with the war, it would be some time before people appreciated its magnitude. (When the play was entered in the annual springtime dramatic competition at Athens that year, it took third prize.) The playwright’s name was Euripides. The play was called “Medea.”

... and the rest ...

4:46:29 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

Nothing of interest as school resumes and we return to our regular publishing schedule.

4:40:02 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

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