Tuesday, February 03, 2004
Interesting how Caligula has crept into the news today. Under the headline The Caligula Broadcasting System does the sleaze bowl, Cal Thomas writes:
Maybe it's appropriate that Super Bowls are numbered with Roman numerals. Sunday's, Super Bowl XXXVIII, featured a halftime show that could have served as backdrop for one of Caligula's orgies.
Remember Super Bowl XXXIV? The halftime entertainment was produced by Walt Disney Productions. This year's was put on by MTV, and the difference was as stark as that between heaven and hell, between good taste and garbage. The commercials also reflected what the networks apparently think about our remaining "community standards."
Janet Jackson, a member of America's most dysfunctional family, bared a breast during her onstage gyrations. There were the usual network apologies to "anyone who was offended." Jackson's singing partner, Justin Timberlake, should get the award for the ultimate in disingenuousness: "I am sorry that anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction. ... It was not intentional." Sure. Why, then, was Jackson wearing a pasty, instead of underwear that might have limited her exposure during the "malfunction"?
Personally I don't understand what the big deal is about this, by the way ... the reaction as seen in the U.S. media is positively out of proportion. Heck, my grade eights didn't think it was a big deal (or is that the problem?). Anyway, we continue our Caligulafest, still with the Super Bowl, with the disjointed incipit of a column in the Grand Island Independent:
In 39 A.D., a megalomaniacal, Roman emperor and nut case known as Caligula ordered boats tied together across the Bay of Naples so he could ride horseback across them for three miles, thereby proclaiming dominion over the sea.
His was a perverted world built on spectacle.
I thought I saw him on the sidelines during Sunday's Super Bowl in Houston, the 38th (OK, the XXXVIIIth) rendition of "All right, America, let's get gaudy and everybody party."
The annual bacchanal lived up to its expectations again this year as the nation's largest catered weekend, football game and spectacle.
Should we be playing football in February?
Or should we be proofreading our work to ensure that it actually flows? (I know ... I'm one to talk). Finally, fulfilling the scholastic law of three and proving that folks just love to drop ancient references into pieces about U.S. imperialism, a column at Common Dreams sneaks in a little Caligulabit:
We need other people for more than anti-terrorist efforts. About 40 percent of Mr. Bush's budget deficits is covered by foreign investors. If they decide that the Euro feels better, we are in trouble. For that matter, a Chinese trade embargo could shut down all the malls of America. We aren't as impregnable as Donald Rumsfeld thinks.
"Oderint dum metuan," said Caligula -- "Let them hate as long as they fear us." It won't work on this little, blue planet. Along with terrorists, disease, pollution and economic meltdown ignore political borders.
And, inevitably, as we do unto others we do to ourselves. The administration claims the power to ignore -- not suspend, just ignore -- the Fourth and Sixth Amendments for anyone, including citizens, whom it deems a suspected enemy combatant.
We can forgive the dropped 't' in metuant ... Now just to bring this to a close (and totally trash that scholastic law of three thing), I present the following, trying not to shudder as I do it:
This year the SND Ballet presents Caligula, which follows last year's Rasputin as another original Slovak work entering the institution's repertoire.
"It's rare for an original work to appear on stage," said Nikita Slovák, one of the creators of Caligula's theme and libretto. The SND Ballet is enjoying such an opportunity thanks to its director, Emil T. Bartko, who has been working on creating a space for local composers since he came to the theatre in 1989.
Caligula, though, is not exceptional only for being an original work. It also pioneers a fusion between ballet and drama.
The story of the cruel and insane Roman emperor, who was obsessed with wanting to be a god and thus rejected all laws, be they human or divine, is divided between ballet dancers and theatre actors. The dancers portray people that are forced to worship the sick behaviour of their ruler, which gradually affects the deities, played by theatre actors.
"I try to portray Caligula the best I can, and since I have no predecessor [in this role] I have to search for the right means of expression myself," said ballet dancer Roman Novitzky, a nominee for this year's Philip Morris Ballet Flower Award for the greatest talent. He is alternating the part with last year's winner, Juraj Vasilenko, an experienced dancer of "negative" character roles (ballets Ras-putin, Carmina Burana).
The dancers and actors alike welcome the synthesis in the performance that diverts it from "classical ballet".
"It's interesting, refreshing. We are in a new environment; there is that movement... We've also realised what a drill this performance is since we have to control ourselves to speak exactly to the music," said Ingrid Timková, who performs the "divine" role of Juno.
Her stage partner Marián Geišberg, or the god Jupiter, added: "There are very few opportunities in which one can play a god for money - well, except for politicians who do it for the taxpayers' money. And I love to play gods."
According to the ballet's creators, Nikita Slovák and Igor Holovác, it is a story of zealotry. "Caligula, following no laws, spreads evil among the people on Earth. The gods watch them from above, then begin to understand them and stop being gods," said Slovák.
His co-partner on the work, Holovác, added: "There are a few quite brutal scenes. I don't recommend the ballet for children under 15."
Holovác said that the historical character of Caligula and the negativity surrounding him has long been a source of inspiration. "He's a very interesting person, and his way of ruling - the things he did and why - offer a great theme for [a ballet work]," he explained, adding that the timing of the premiere has nothing to do with the situation on the current Slovak political scene, even though, "one might find some resemblances there." [from the Slovak Spectator]
All of this is leading to a natural conclusion, of course: we'll soon be watching Andrew Lloyd Webber's Caligula: The Musical, with score by Elton John, starring Justin Timberlake and Janet, of course ... perhaps with Brittany, Beyonce, and Pink as the three sisters.
NUNTII: Cyprus is Atlantis ... still
Alas ... I guess we'll be hearing more from Mr. Sarmast. According to the Cyprus Mail:
AMERICAN author Robert Sarmast, who penned the controversial Discovery of Atlantis: The Startling Case for the Island of Cyprus, will be on the island next week to lay the groundwork that he hopes will lead to an expedition to locate the legendary lost civilisation.
Sarmast will be on the island for several weeks, meeting with government and tourism officials, archaeologists, geologists, mythologists, and also with the island’s media. He will also give a round of lectures and presentations and try to locate local ships and technology that might be useful for his proposed expedition.
“The plan is to stay for a few weeks in order to prepare the way for the upcoming documentaries and ultimately, the expedition itself,” Sarmast said in an email.
In his book, Sarmast claims to have discovered that Cyprus matches Plato’s famed account of the mythological ancient civilisation in two of his dialogues with Greek philosophers Timaeus and Critias.
Sarmast claims to back up Plato’s descriptions with a scientific survey of the eastern Mediterranean basin, which took place in the 1980s, resulting, he says, in the most accurate data about the topographic structure of the Levantine Basin and the Cyprus Arc. The data was acquired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association in 1999 and used, he said, to create the most accurate bathymetric maps of the sea floor stretching between Cyprus and Syria.
“We are about to embark on a remarkable adventure that is destined, I believe, to shake the world's foundation,” said Sarmast.
Why do I get the feeling we'll be watching this on the Discovery Channel ...
THIS DAY IN ANCIENT HISTORY
ante diem iii nonas februarias
- 1995 -- death of John Pinsent (classicist and founder of Liverpool Classical Monthly)
NUNTII: EU Anthem Translated to Latin
Interesting tidbit from the EU Reporter
Europeans already have an anthem - Beethoven's Ode to Joy - and now an Austrian professor has put words to the music - in Latin.
Below is Professor Roland's unofficial text, with his own translation in English.
Hymnus Latinus Unionis Europaeae
Est Europa nunc unita
et unita maneat;
una in diversitate
pacem mundi augeat.
Semper regant in Europa
fides et iustitia
et libertas populorum
in maiore patria.
Cives, floreat Europa,
opus magnum vocat vos.
Stellae signa sunt in caelo
aureae, quae iungant nos
Europe is united now
United it may remain
Our unity in diversity
May contribute to world peace.
May there forever reign in Europe
Faith and justice
And freedom for its people
In a bigger motherland.
Citizens, Europe shall flourish,
A great task calls on you.
Golden stars in the sky are
The symbols that shall unite us.
Note that it rhymes in Latin, but not in English ... it's usually the other way around.
AWOTV: On TV Today
7.00 p.m. |HINT| Archenemy: The Philistines
Filmed on location in the Holy Land, this hour chronicles the
history of the Philistines, the ruthless warriors of the Hebrew
Bible's early period. Visits to archaeological digs reveal
fascinating artifacts that provide new information about Philistine
8.00 p.m. |HINT| The Colosseum
Nothing symbolizes the Roman Empire at its height or Rome in
magnificent ruins more than the Colosseum. Built in 70 AD, it seated
80,000 people, boasted a retractable roof, underground staging
devices, marble seating, and lavish decorations. It still serves as
the prototype for the modern stadium. The complexity of its
construction, the beauty of its architecture, and the functionality
of its design made it the perfect place for massive crowds to
congregate for the bloody spectacles it contained.
HINT = History International