Most recent update:2/1/2004; 11:10:05 AM

 Friday, January 23, 2004

NUNTII: Sam Houston

Investor's Business Daily has a feature on famous Texan Sam Houston which includes this little tidbit:

To reverse his bleak, early prospects, Houston began by improving his mind. Despite his lack of formal instruction, in his late teens he read Homer's "Iliad" so often that he memorized most of its 24 books.

I wondered whether he read it in Greek or in translation. A little digging and I found a pair of apparently-contradictory answers. According to the Ulster-Scot:

Here, young Sam grew up and became a great reader from his father’s extensive library. He studied Alexander Pope’s translation of the “Iliad” until he just about wore out the pages. He read Virgil, ancient history and geography.

According to an issue of The Builder (from 1921):

Sam attended school and must have been an apt scholar as he was reported as reading and translating from the Iliad at an early age.


11:14:28 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Whoops!

The usually attentive Sydney Morning Herald dropped the ball this a.m. in a review of books about libraries and the like:

From antiquity to the present and, sadly, probably well beyond, armies have assailed libraries with a stupefying savagery - the Romans sacked Carthage, [...]

I wonder what a library at Carthage would have held ...


10:53:56 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


ante diem x kalendas februarias

  • ludi palatini (day 3)

5:49:02 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NUNTII: Elgin/Parthenon Marbles Latest

Excerpts from a Reuters piece, much like many other bits of coverage on this:

Greece, seeking to woo the British Museum into sending the disputed Elgin Marbles to Athens for this summer's Olympic Games, said Thursday the reluctant museum could use part of a new Athens site as its own branch.

"This can become a win-win situation for all of us, both for the British Museum as well as for the new Acropolis Museum," Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said in London.  [...]

The British Museum, which has a special room to display the large blocks of carved marble, has steadfastly refused to return or lend the pieces to Greece.

Museum director Neil McGregor said in a recent article the marbles belonged in London, where they had been well looked after, and attributed the latest push by the Greek government to posturing before March elections.

"There has never been any question of any piece ever returning to Britain if it is sent to Athens," he wrote in the Sunday Times.

Papandreou offered to let the British Museum use part of a museum being built near the Parthenon in central Athens as its own branch.

"There should be a corporate relation between the two countries and the British Museum can create its branch at the Acropolis Museum," Papandreou said.

The planned steel-glass Acropolis Museum will not be ready for the Olympics in August, but Greece says the Parthenon Marbles Hall, its centerpiece, will be ready and awaiting the marbles.

"We are saying that this wonder of art should be an integral piece of art and it should be brought together in Athens," said Papandreou.

I think we should all thank Mr. Papandreou for clarifying the situation and proving that Neil MacGregor has been right all along -- the claim that Greece was asking for a "loan" was less-than-honest. If the Marbles leave London, they're clearly never coming back -- they'll only return to the British Museum in the sense they'll be in a 'branch office' of same. Fortunately, MacGregor has eight or so years left in his tenure as director of the British Museum ... he has more spine than the gang in Whitehall. Looks like Sinon jumped out of the bushes a little early ...

5:44:31 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NUNTII: Peter Jones in the Spectator

Here's the incipit of his latest:

Boars, which became extinct in Britain in the 17th century, are on the come-back, and their number is estimated at about a thousand. They have very thick hides, can weigh up to 40 stone, are extremely quick, and their razor-sharp tusks rip open dogs with ease. They root up and lay waste large areas of crops in a very short time.

The ancient Greeks knew all about the destructive power of these animals. One complete epic cycle centred on the boar sent by the goddess Artemis to punish king Oeneus of Calydon for insulting her; this boar destroyed Oeneus’ orchards, uprooting trees and causing general havoc. It took heroes and heroines from all over Greece — Jason, Theseus, Nestor, Atalanta — to deal with it. Boars feature frequently in Homeric battle similes, sharpening their tusks, rounding on those that pursue them and fighting to the bitter end with their ‘strength that is not easily exhausted’ — a splendid image of the warrior on the defensive.  [more]

5:31:45 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Say What?

This quote -- from a sports writer in the Courier Post -- is just wrong on so many levels:

To me, sitting in his compact basketball office in Glassboro with Profs assistant coach Dave Lafferty was like what the ancient Greeks must have felt when sitting on the steps of The Parthenon and hearing Socrates and Plato talk philosophy.

5:28:18 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

REVIEWS: Assorted Interpretations of Greek Tragedies

Different approaches to assorted tragedies seem to dominate the mailbox this a.m.. The first was brought to my attention by a rogueclassicism reader (thanks KG!) and is an adapation of something Iphigeniaish:

THE TITLE MAY TWIST YOUR TONGUE: "Iphigenia Crash Land Falls on the Neon Shell That Once Was Her Heart (a rave-fable)."

The piece itself may twist your brain.

"Iphigenia" (pronounced iff-i-jeh-NIGH-ah), a contemporary retelling of Euripides' Greek tragedy, begins its world premiere run tonight at 7 Stages. Here, Iphigenia is the daughter of a political celebrity involved with a Trent Reznor-style rock star in some serious excess.

The director is 30-year-old Melissa Foulger (pronounced Folger, like the coffee), an up-and-coming theater artist in her second year of a fellowship at 7 Stages. Her team is turning the theater's smaller space into an alternative universe. In other words, welcome to her club. It's a hot spot where:

-- The usually out-of-sight and -earshot technicians will dress and act like DJs.

-- High-speed video will be streaming and lights will always be on, including some in the audience.

-- The five actors -- Heather Starkel as Iphigenia, Adam Fristoe as Achilles, Isma'il ibn Conner, Justin Welborn and Kristi Casey -- performing 16 roles, will move in and around the audience, and dance with anyone who's willing. [more]

As KG suggests, it will probably be either "awful or fantastic" ... much depends, I suspect, on whether patrons leave humming some ABBA tune or not. In any event, the next little tidbit from the Times of India sounded interesting:

With over a decade of experience, both the artists want to experiment and innovate with different plots. Their next step? “We are thinking of adopting a Greek tragedy for our next venture and then re-write it for an adult audience where the plot will be much more complex.We plan to use more light and sound effects with modern technology,” says Deotti.

... but while  reading the whole article reveals  the "we" are "Inspired by Greek tragedies and Latin comedies, both these theatre artists discovered the joy of puppetry while studying theatre and drama in Italy"  it is also revealed that they are talking about a puppet show. Again, I think we're in the "awful or fantastic" category. Finally, fulfilling the scholastic rule of three, in the Montreal Gazette we read of another production:

Oh, the joys to be had in our new age of irony.

Oreste: The Reality Show, a high-concept reinterpretation of Greek tragedy as a daytime television talk show, complete with feuding relatives goaded by a craven host into taking swings at each other, begins on such a high note, it has no place to go after the first 20 minutes or so. [...]

The new-media friendly update, far from being banal, perfectly captures the essential irony, to say nothing of the anti- (Spartan) war sentiments of Euripides.

The latter underlined with a somewhat heavy hand by a coda of photo-op images of a smiling George Bush projected on a jumbo-screen monitor that's as huge a part of this show as Electra and her mother-killing brother Orestes. [...]

This time, the answer to the question posed by Euripides's "what is justice?" theme is suggested by The Reality Show's slogan: À chacun sa vérité, with its implied corollary, that the prevailing truth is absolutely relative to the amount of network time at its command.

The matricide trial of Orestes and his co-accused, Electra, is presided over by a talk-show host played with venal charm by a scarlet-suited Anne Dorval.

I think that one might actually work. Now if only I can get this stupid ABBA song out of my head -- Does your mother know that you're out? -- why is it that the mere mention of the name will trigger such a thing? Whom the gods would destroy and all that ...

5:25:11 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Pepsi Commercial

The other day we mentioned a new Pepsi ad starring Beyonce Knowles as a gladiatrix somehow clashing with the evil emperor played by Enrique Iglesias. It was mentioned that Britney Spears and Pink also figure in the commercial ... the Scotsman tells us how: they've teamed up with the surviving members of Queen for a rendition of We Will Rock You. I suspect this ad will be debuting during the Super Bowl a week and a bit from today ...

4:51:12 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

4.00 p.m. |DISCC| We Built This City: London
London is a city steeped in history, from a Roman settlement and a
medieval playground to the centre of the British empire; through
revolution, world war and other calamities, London has continued to

7.00 p.m. |HINT| The Myth of Cleopatra
Journey through Egypt, Greece, and Italy as we search for the real
woman behind the myth of Cleopatra VII, the last Egyptian queen.
Drawing on archaeology and ancient texts, we see how the historical
ruler squares with modern depiction. A consummate politician, she was
faithful to both Caesar and Antony, but foremost Egypt!

10.00 p.m. |DTC| Lost City of Pompeii: Secrets of the Dead
Journey to the playground of the Roman aristocracy, Herculaneum.
Buried by the same volcanic eruption that leveled Pompeii, this city
of luxurious villas, magnificent arcades and extensive library
collections holds clues to the Roman's riches.

DISCC = Discovery Channel (Canada)

DTC = Discovery Times Channel (US)

HINT = History International

4:32:34 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

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