Most recent update:2/1/2004; 11:11:31 AM

 Thursday, January 29, 2004

GOSSIP: If It's Thursday ...

... Baz Lurhman's Alexander the Great movie must be on hold again:

Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio is waiting to see how Oliver Stone's Alexander epic performs at the box-office - before deciding whether to go ahead with a rival project.

The 29-year-old actor was due to start filming Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann's alternative version about Macedonian leader Alexander The Great.

But studio bosses have put the project on hold while they monitor how popular Stone's version is, which stars Colin Farrell in the lead role.

The movie's scriptwriter, David Hare, says, "They're waiting to see the reaction to the Oliver Stone one. They're not sure the world is ready for two films about Alexander The Great yet." [source]

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NUNTII: Wooing Helen

Holy Cats! There's so much ClassCon on so many levels in this one ... from the Glasgow Herald:

WHILE Britain sits on the Elgin Marbles, Greece has quietly been trying to poach a UK treasure: Helen Karagounis.

The 400m woman has run in the shadow of European and Commonwealth medal-winner Lee McConnell, but in the Scot's absence at the Kelvin Hall, Karagounis won a first senior international victory for Britain. A charge off the final bend took half a second from her indoor best with 53.31sec.

Karagounis is studying classical civilisation at university, writing her dissertation on sport in ancient Greece, and selling hats in a Nottingham market to fund her Athens Olympic assault. She is married to Greek javelin-thrower Leonidas Karagounis, named after a Spartan king, and her husband's government has guaranteed an Olympic place if she will switch allegiance.

"I turned it down," she said. "It would have meant missing the Commonwealth Games and European Under-23 championships for Britain, neither of which I was prepared to do, but the Olympics is my main goal."

Saturday also delivered the world indoor championship qualifying time. "I hope Lee will do the relay there," she said, "because we have a medal chance in Hungary."

McConnell said she has not ruled out doing the Budapest event in March.

Wow ... the Elgin Marbles ... Greece ... trying to take away a Helen ... a Classics major ... Leonidas ... the Olympics ... all in less than 300 words ... it's a rogueclassicism overload!!!

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CHATTER: Screamin' Dean

I was wondering if any ClassCon would be attached to Howard Dean after his little screamfest a while back ... Sho'nuff, the Arizona Conservative weighs in:

Hearing Dean’s rude exchange with an Iowa senior citizen and watching his tirade on caucus night reminded me of a prediction I had heard many months ago. At a political science conference in April 2003, when Dean was still considered a long shot, Dr. Garrison Nelson, a professor at the University of Vermont, advised, ''Watch his [Dean’s] temper.''

       A short fuse is by no means rare, but it can be a career stopper for a politician. Indeed, those politicians famous for their temper are also renowned for masterfully concealing it.

       Greek tragedy tells us that, ''He whom the gods would destroy they first make mad,'' and it’s not hard to make Dean furious.  Making matters worse, his temper comes with a nasty streak.  As Dean soared in the polls, built a formidable financial war chest, and gathered endorsements, I suspect that many who participated or attended the elections panel that day failed, much as I had, to give adequate weight to Dr. Nelson’s well-informed observation.

Er ... that's not the sort of 'madness' envisioned by the quote (and just to be pedantic, you don't need the 'that' before the direct quotation) ... More interesting that Google has more than 3400 hits for the phrase whom the gods would destroy ...


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CHATTER: Say What?

From a column in the Financial Gazette ('Southern Africa')

MEN, the male species of the human race that is, were created extremely weak when it comes to sexual temptation.
In matters sexual, the expression "the weaker sex" which we normally employ as a generic label to indicate women’s inferiority to men in terms of physical strength, is reversed so that it applies wholly to men.

Thus, where men have often ruined themselves through their inability to hold themselves in matters sexual, women have been able, through the clever use of their sexual appeal, to do the opposite — strengthening their economic base.

They have been able to turn their sexuality, through the irresponsible use of their sexual appeal it must be pointed out, to almost literally transform themselves from paupers to princesses or metamorphose absolutely at will, from rags to riches, to use the more common, if somewhat hackneyed, expression.

Musician Paul Matavire vividly and graphically captured this scenario whereby women effectively exploit men’s weakness for them by turning themselves into irresistible Cleopatras in the presence of Alexander The Great, Delilahs in the presence of Samson or even Queens of Sheba in the presence of King David, through two of the greatest of his innumerable 1980s hits — Ndagumbuka and Tanga Wandida. The song Tanga Wandida, in which Matavire tells the story of a man who promises the moon to a woman in return for her love — the precursor of what later became popularly known as carpet interviews — was a perfect example of that scenario, where men will think nothing of allowing their lust to ruin their lives or careers. [more ... if you really need to read more] 

Irresistable Cleopatras eh? Alexander the Great, eh? (he said, Mr. Burns-like) ... Is resistance even possible for a three-century-old guy?

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NUNTII: Peter Jones in the Spectator

Here's the latest incipit:

Iain Duncan Smith, ex-leader of the Tory party, is evidently in a state of some depression at his humiliating rejection. Ancient philosophy must spring to his aid.

Greek and Roman philosophers were primarily concerned with ethics: that is, they wanted to show their adherents what the good life was and, at a practical level, how to lead it. One of their most productive lines was dealing with failure and despair. On Tranquillity of Mind by the essayist Plutarch (46–120 ad) is a good example.

He rejects the idea that tranquillity is best achieved by doing nothing, as if the best advice for a sick man was never to leave his bed. Likewise, he does not believe that any one particular way of life is by definition free from pain, since if you are the sort of person who is unable to make right use of circumstances, a change of life will not of itself alter your disposition.

The key to tranquillity, argues Plutarch, is reason and wisdom. He quotes Plato, comparing life to a game of dice. There is no point in raging at the way the dice fall since there is nothing we can do about it; we must therefore make the best of what we have, and refuse to react overemotionally either to good fortune or to bad. ‘From the grimmest circumstances we must draw something that suits us and is useful.’

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CHATTER: Student Protests at Oxford

I dunno ... somehow this doesn't quite fit the image of 'student protest' that has been pounded into my brain (even if there is ClassCon) ... FWIW:

The occupation of the Exam Schools on Monday night has been met with a mixture of resentment and support by Oxford academics and students.

Most students were informed by e-mail that lectures were cancelled, but many were faced with the news only upon having arrived at the High Street.

Classics Professor Dr. Matthieu de Bakker said “I am very unhappy. I wish I had been notified about the occupation because I had to send 200 students and their tutors home.” Dr. de Bakker told Cherwell that he is hoping to lodge a complaint against the activists involved.


However, some students backed the protest. One said, “It’s brilliant. I shall now go back to bed with my girlfriend,” whilst a Classicist, thrilled at the propect of a lecture-free day said, “I would dance, but I can’t.”

Oh well ... I guess sometimes stereotypes fit ...

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NUNTII: Valentine's Day

Looks like Hamilton College is first off the mark this year with a press release tying Valentine's Day to the Classical world:

Today's valentines focus on sharing, caring, love and friendship. The beloved is portrayed as gentle, sensitive, tender and compassionate, says Gold. The ancient Romans had quite a different take on love.

"Love for them was interesting, both to live and to write about, because it was painful, like a disease," Gold says. Roman lovers described themselves as "wounded, wretched, enslaved by their lovers, having their bone marrow on fire and suffering from double vision."

"They melded coarse obscenities with deepest expressions of sexual, erotic longing," she says. "Above all there was no sharing or caring and no REAL IDEA of a friendship of equals."

For example the love poet Catullus writes to his lady love, "I hate and I love. Perhaps you ask why I do that? I don't know but I feel it happening and I am tormented." (Catullus 85) Gold notes, "The dream couples of ancient love poetry are hardly the stuff of today's romantic. They inhabit a world of playful and elegant poetry far removed from the (FALSE) sincerity of contemporary Hallmark romance. But the depth of the feelings expressed by the ancients is also far removed from the superficial and hyperbolic lovebites found in contemporary commercial expressions of love."

Gold's research interests are Greek and Roman literature, feminist theory, and women in the ancient world. She is the first woman editor of "The American Journal of Philology," the oldest classics journal in the U.S. She has written several books, including "Vile Bodies: Roman Satire and Corporeal Discourse;" "Sex and Gender in Medieval and Renaissance Texts: The Latin Tradition;" and, "Literary and Artistic Patronage in Greece and Rome."

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ante diem iv kalendas februarias

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NUNTII: Hunter Rawlings Back in the Classroom

So ... what's it like to go from the president's office back to the classroom? The Cornell Daily Sun tells us:

President Emeritus and Professor Hunter R. Rawlings III is glad to get back into the classroom.

"The reason I entered academia was because I love teaching and scholarship. After many years of administration, I wanted to go back to what drew me into this in the first place," he said.

Currently, Rawlings is teaching two classes in the classics department, Periclean Athens, an undergraduate class, and Advanced Readings in Greek, a graduate-level course.

These classes are certainly not Rawlings' first experience in teaching. He originally began teaching classics at the University of Colorado in 1970, taught at the University of Iowa as president, and co-taught three classes while serving as Cornell's president.

In previous years, Rawlings had co-taught Periclean Athens, or Classics 258, with two other professors. He had to share the responsibilities because his time and travel commitments as president prevented him from teaching the course on his own. However, now free from his administrative duties, he has taken over the class and is teaching it independently.

He hopes that his students will learn about ancient Greek and apply this knowledge to the present.

"I'm trying to get the students to think in depth about another democracy and the ideas that led to its formation and development," he said.

Although she's only had one day of class, Kathleen Devlin '05, seemed to be excited about the curriculum.

"I think it's really cool that we're doing a reenactment of the trial of Socrates for the class," she said.

To prepare for his return to teaching, Rawlings traveled to Greece to study in his area of expertise. He said that he studied ancient Greek literature and history while there and read several Greek texts in the original language.

"It was a good push ... to regain familiarity with some ancient texts," he said.

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AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |DCIVC| The Seven Wonders of the World: The Magic Metropolis

8.00 p.m. |HINT| Arms in Action: Slings and Spears
Produced in partnership with England's Royal Armouries located in
the Tower of London, this series action-tests weapons and armor
through the ages. We construct an ancient slingshot and see why it
survives as a street-fighting weapon in the Middle East, and follow
the unbroken history of the spear from mere stick to Roman pilium to

DCIVC = Discovery Civilization (Canada)

HINT = History International

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