Most recent update:5/1/2004; 5:36:33 AM

 Thursday, April 08, 2004

apologies for the inconsistency of posting over the past couple of days ... I've been contending with installing high speed internet and a home network. The former has worked fine ab ovo ... the latter has left me with much less hair than I had at the beginning of the week.
6:07:57 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


ante diem vi idus apriles

  • ludi Megalasia (day 5)
  • 217 A.D. -- murder of the emperor M. Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla)
  • 1979 -- death of E.R. Dodds (The Greeks and the Irrational)

6:06:08 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Turkey and Troy

Somewhat mixed reaction this a.m. to a piece in Al-Jazeerah on Turkey's hopes to boost tourism as a result of that Troy flick:

A problem that Turkey has always had with the legend of Troy is that few know the site of the ancient city is in Turkey, as many associate it with Greece.

"Troy has always been known as a Greek culture; we try to show that Troy also belongs to Turkish culture"

It is the same with the seven churches of Asia of biblical fame, all of which are within the borders of modern Turkey.

For associate professor Ekram Tufan, there is a struggle to show a direct link between the ancient civilisations and present day Turkey.

"Our main objective is to show that Troy is our own culture and stress the importance. Troy has always been known as a Greek culture; we try to show that Troy also belongs to Turkish culture."

While hoping that this battle will be won, at least in some small part, with the release of the movie, Turkey has been fighting another Trojan war, a battle on two fronts, for many years.

The original excavator of the site in western Turkey, the German Heinrich Schliemann, apart from causing untold damage to the ruins with his haphazard methods, smuggled most of his finds out of Ottoman Turkey over a period of 15 years in the late 19th century.

Among these was what the amateur archaeologist described as the treasure of King Priam, the ruler of Troy at the time of the legendary 10-year siege. The collection of jewellery, which Schliemann liked to bedeck his young Greek wife with, was later displayed with other finds in a Berlin museum.

In 1945, the Trojan hoard, along with much else, disappeared from Berlin with the entry of the Russian army, not to resurface for more than 50 years.

It was not until 1998 that Moscow admitted that its Soviet predecessor had looted the Berlin museum which had housed the collection, and then stored it in St Petersburg.

Having admitted guilt, the Russians then flaunted it by putting the Trojan artefacts on display in Moscow's Pushkin museum, where they remain despite repeated requests from Ankara for their return.

Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, late in his term of office and possibly when worse for wear, actually agreed to restore the treasure trove to Turkey, only for the Russian parliament to denounce the proposal.

At the same time, the Duma dismissed calls from Germany that Schliemann’s finds come back to the land of his birth, if not that of the hoard’s origin.

Gila Benmayor, a Turkish journalist who has campaigned to have the Trojan hoard returned, is just one of many who feel strongly on the subject.

"The Trojan treasure belongs neither to Russia or Germany," she said. "The asset is ours; they cannot share it between themselves. We should reclaim the Trojan treasure and build the museum to house it."

A strategy Turkey has to recover the Trojan jewels and the other pieces still in Germany, and one backed by Professor Manfred Korfmann, in charge of the present excavation work at Troy, is for the construction of a modern museum on the site of the excavation, a case of build it and it will come.

A number of overseas institutions, perhaps most notably the British Museum in London, have refused to consider returning ancient artworks either looted or acquired legally during the time of the Ottomans, due to the lack of suitable facilities in Turkey. 

Even without Schliemann's treasure, what with recent digs unearthing significant finds, Turkey has long recognised the need for a centralised repository for its Troy collection.

However, the plans for the new museum were shelved in 2001 when the economy nose-dived.

Now, with Brad Pitt's Achilles again flexing his muscles and Helen once again launching a thousand ships, the museum is back on the drawing board, as many Turks hope that this time, some of those ships will be carrying tourists. [more]

Hmmm ... build a museum and it will come. Sounds somewhat familiar. British Museum refusing to return stuff ... sounds familiar. No mention of Parthenon or Elgin ... sounds political. Maybe the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles - Treasures of Troy thing can become something to bring Greeks and Turks together ...


5:51:13 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Special Effects

A column in the Australian bemoans the computer-generated-cast-of-thousands trend in film-making ... inter alia:

Next month we'll get yet another remake of Homer's Iliad. Being Homer, not Tolkien, Troy could conceivably have convincing women to set off against Brad Pitt as Achilles. Don't get your hopes up for that; but do expect the computer-generated bone crunching, flesh-slicing battle scenes to exceed in quantity of pixel-soldiers and pints of fake blood those in Gladiator or Jackson's Rings.

And that's why the upward spiral of special effects has yielded a downward spiral in the storytelling quality of big-budget movies.

Talking about the theatre of his time, Greek philosopher Aristotle listed the elements that go into a good drama. The least important, he argued, was spectacle – the staging, fancy costumes and special stage effects (such as the deus ex machina) the Greeks used in their theatres. Most crucial for intense dramatic experience was an effective plot and interesting characters. Except for the technology escalation, not much has changed in 2500 years.

Yes ... spectacle was the least important. But not unimportant ...

5:42:24 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Ancient Precedents?

Arutz Sheva has a piece called "Targeted Killing in International Law" which includes this interesting citation of Classical precedent:

No doubt, assassination is normally an illegal remedy under international law. Yet, support for a limited right to assassination can be found in the classical writings of Aristotle, Plutarch and Cicero and even in Jewish history - ranging from the Sicarii (who flourished at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple) to Lehi (who fought the British mandatory authority). Should the "civilized" community of nations ever reject this right altogether, it will have to recognize that it would, in certain instances, be at an egregious expense of innocent human life.

Perhaps, ultimately, this is the real appeal of Classics in the real world ... it can be used as a precedent for practically anything and it has that auctoritas of antiquity?

5:37:38 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Easter Inaccuracies?

As is to be expected this time of year, we're getting the 'Easter origins' pieces in various media outlets. I was somewhat surprised, however, to read in the Catholic Herald the following:

The unbroken egg symbolizes the rock tomb of our Lord; and when broken, symbolizes that He has risen from the dead. The ancient Romans had a saying, "Omne vivum ex ovo" ("All life comes from an egg"); easily, one can see how such a saying would inspire the early Christians to use the egg as an appropriate symbol for the new and everlasting life won for us through our Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection.

I'll happily be corrected if I'm wrong, but I was always under the impression that that particular saying was attributed to William Harvey ... the circulation-of-the-blood guy.

5:33:03 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NUNTII: Acropolis Museum Redux

The latest from Kathimerini:

Greece’s plans to build an ultramodern new Acropolis Museum under the ancient citadel received a major boost yesterday after the country’s highest administrative court rejected a suit to have the dragging project scrapped.

Furthermore, one of the museum’s top backers said the government had assured him that the building — where Athens would like to display the Elgin, or Parthenon, Marbles should the British Museum agree to return them — “will be built.” Jules Dassin, head of the Melina Mercouri Foundation, which has lobbied for the sculptures’ return and construction of the new museum, was speaking after meeting with Prime Minister (and Culture Minister) Costas Karamanlis and Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis. [more ... ]

5:26:45 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

grumble ...
5:19:22 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

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