Friday, February 13, 2004
THIS DAY IN ANCIENT HISTORY
- Parentalia (day 1) -- a festival for honouring/appeasing the dead
began on this day with a number of signs: temples were closed,
altars did not have fires burn on them, people were forbidden to
get married, and magistrates set down the trappings of their office.
- Fornacalia (day 1) -- this was actually a "feriae conceptivae", which
means that it probably wasn't always held on the same day. Originally,
it was a feast of the curiae (an early division of the Roman people)
which also seems to have involved a sort of banquet for the gods,
although scholars are unsure which gods were specifically honoured.
Then again, Ovid claims that rural folk would pray to a divinity
- ca 1st century A.D. -- martyrdom of Agabus
- 196 B.C. -- dedication of a Temple of Faunus on the Tiber island
- 194 A.D. -- Septimius Severus recognized as Emperor in Egypt
- 250 A.D. -- martyrdom of Polyeuctus of Melitene
CHATTER: Valentine Reductions
While wading through a pile of Valentine's Day columns -- nothing new -- I recalled that Barbara Gold (professor of Classics at Hamilton College) last year had written something last year on the occasion, not so much on the day, but on love in the Roman world. Happily, it's still online:
There are many different lenses one can use to try to assess the relative values of different cultures and societies, none perfect but all yielding pieces of the puzzle. One of these lenses allows us to look at the artifacts of love and desire that a particular society has left us.
My students and I, in a class on the poetry of love and desire in ancient Rome, looked at the way that first century BCE Romans and 21st century Americans expressed themselves on this subject and analyzed the deeper significance of these expressions of emotion and passion. [more]
The New York Times somewhat cattily reviews Aquila's production of Agamemnon, starring Olympia Dukakis ... incipitly:
Women! Yuck! Ptooey!
That's the way the menfolk gathered around the House of Atreus seem to feel about the opposite sex in the Aquila Theater Company's version of Aeschylus' "Agamemnon." In this stiff, achingly atmospheric production, which opened last night at the John Jay College Theater, a fellow can't even say the word woman without a rattle of contempt creeping into his voice.
Is it any wonder that poor Clytemnestra, played by the formidable Olympia Dukakis, starts to feel homicidal in such company? Wearing a drapey mauve shmatte among a gaggle of gossipy men in drab overcoats and fedoras, this proud queen looks distressingly besieged and outnumbered. And it must be awfully irritating to hear the boys keep blaming the whole Trojan War on her sister, Helen. Of course she was bound to snap.
Translated by Peter Meineck, who directed the show with Robert Richmond, this "Agamemnon" is by no means forcing a feminist sensibility onto a hallowed play that can't accommodate it. To reread the "Oresteia" trilogy, of which "Agamemnon" is the opening play, is to be sharply aware of a dangerous divide between the men who make war and the women who wait for them. [more]
AWOTV: On TV Today
3.00 p.m. |HINT| Cleopatra: Destiny's Queen
She was Egypt's greatest queen, but not a drop of Egyptian blood
flowed through her veins. The Romans regarded her as a dangerous
seductress, but for almost half of her adult life she remained
celibate. A profile of this exceptional woman who used all her talent
to become one of the most feared rulers of her time.
7.00 p.m. |DTC| Mystery of the Minoans
The latest computer modeling techniques combine with fossil records
to reveal the fate of the 17th century Minoan civilization of Crete.
Tidal waves and torrents of burning ash from a massive volcano may
have altered the course of Western history.
8.00 p.m. |DTC| Secrets of the Colosseum
Visit the ruins of this massive triumph of Roman building and
engineering for clues to its ingenious design. Built in a remarkably
short span of 10 years, the structure combined travertine stone,
iron, concrete, brick and lava rocks from nearby Vesuvius.
HINT = History International
DTC = Discovery Times Channel (US)