Most recent update:5/1/2004; 5:36:47 AM

 Friday, April 16, 2004


ante diem xvi kalendas maias

  • ludi Cereri (day 5)-- games in honour of the grain goddess Ceres, instituted by/before 202 B.C.
  • 43 B.C. -- Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) is hailed as Imperator for the first time
  • 69 A.D. -- suicide of the emperor wannabe Otho (this might have occured on April 17)
  • 304 A.D. -- martyrdom of Optatus and other Martyrs of Saragossa
  • 1928 -- death of Jane Ellen Harrison (author of Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, among other things)

5:43:17 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

GOSSIP: Troy Movie

Just came across an excellent site providing gossip about the movie ... JoBlo has a nice plot summary and roundup of news items, but even better, it seems to have the largest collection of production stills and movie posters (including 'character posters') -- definitely worth checking out (the one 'double poster' is definitely impressive).

5:33:20 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Trojan Wargames

You gotta like their timing:

Valuesoft announced today the release of Battle for Troy, a new strategy title based on the epic Trojan Wars. The game lets you assume command of either the Greeks or the Trojans through two different campaigns.

Each campaign holds eight missions, either protecting Helen as the Trojans or trying to invade Troy as the Greeks. The game will feature heroes and nine unit types for each army. Plus, you get to battle for cheap.

"ValuSoft is bringing real-time strategy game play to the market at a price point typically overlooked by other publishers," states Doug Clemmer, President of ValuSoft. [more from IGN]

5:28:26 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Seen in Passing

From the Las Vegas Mercury's social pages:

When in Rome, eat and drink like Caligula is watching at the 14th Annual Epicurean Affair, a pricey, upscale celebration of food and liquor at the Caesars Palace Garden of the Gods on Thursday. Dozens of local restaurants will feature samples of their best stuff, so come hungry and dressed to impress ...

I'm willing to bet flamingo tongues weren't on any of the menus ...


5:22:53 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Czech Fight Clubs

Excerpts from a piece in the Scotsman about EU efforts to shut down Czech 'fight clubs':

ILLEGAL fight clubs have sprung up across the Czech Republic in which men dressed in gladiatorial costumes beat each other up for sport.

The back-street betting rings that have grown up around the brutal contests have attracted the attention of European Union officials, who are taking steps to end the sport.


Weapons are not allowed but anything else is permitted. Eyewitnesses have told Czech newspapers that the fights often end with Czechs and fighters from the neighbouring Slovak Republic horribly beaten, sustaining serious injuries.


They wear gladiator-style helmets and body armour, but are not allowed to use weapons.


 Witnesses claim the fighters are kept in metal cages before the bouts so that spectators can view them "like animals" before placing their bets.


Johannes Koehler, a German human-rights worker who witnessed one of the fights, said he was horrified by what he saw.

He said the bout took place in an abandoned brickworks near the Czech border town of Karlovy Vary.

"It was like bear-baiting or dog-fighting, only done with humans," he said. "Most of the men were labouring types, tattooed, probably unemployed and desperate - not what I would call first-class athletes.

"There was a carnival atmosphere before they entered a bare-earth ring that was surrounded with iron bars like the cage they had been kept in prior to the bout.

"They were wearing Roman-type costumes and some had iron gloves on. They had mouth-guards.

"It was a frenzy of kicking, beating, blood spurting, bone-crunching ... it was horrible. The ultimate tragedy is that it wasn’t up to the individuals to say when they had had enough - it was left to their ‘trainers’ to decide. That might come when a man was covered in welts, blood and bruises and was unable to stand."

The fights are believed to be organised by people with connections to Polish and Russian organised crime.

One Czech newspaper said the Roman gladiator costumes were simply cosmetic.

"This is a fight-club scene and the gladiatorial bit is window dressing," said Milos Kubis, a Czech commentator.

5:17:44 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

(P)REVIEW: Spartacus on USA

The Houston Chronicle has a somewhat negative review of the upcoming Spartacus miniseries on the USA Network this weekend:

ER's Goran Visnjic trades scrubs and scalpel for loincloth and sword, putting his good looks and earnest acting to the test in USA Network's Spartacus. But he's not enough to make this four-hour miniseries more than a well-intended remake of an overrated 1960 film. 

The new version is closer to Howard Fast's 1951 novel than to the Kirk Douglas film. Set in 72 B.C., it tells the story of a man sold into Roman slavery. Inspired by the actions of an admired peer, Spartacus successfully leads a revolt against his captors. He then moves south, hoping to cut a deal that will boat his followers to safety in Sicily.

When word of the uprising reaches Rome, two senators, Crassus and Agrippa, word-wrestle over how to defeat Spartacus. Ultimately, though Spartacus and his 6,000 followers fight valiantly, they pay the highest price: crucifixion.

Though the personal story of Spartacus drives the narrative -- his father's murder, his mastery of the sword as a gladiator, his romance with a fellow slave named Varinia, his skills as a leader -- Visnjic is not quite capable of filling Douglas' sandals. His smoldering good looks are a definite plus, and he proves each Thursday night that he can act. But he lacks the screen presence of Douglas, with whom this tale will always be associated.

But there's still fun to be had with this Spartacus. For compelling entertainment, look to Rome. There, Angus Macfadyen as Spartacus' enemy Crassus and the late Sir Alan Bates as Agrippa, a portly elder statesman, steal the show. Their educated bickering features the best lines in Robert Schenkkan's screenplay. [more]

5:10:14 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

10.00 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.

10.00 p.m. |HISTU| Barbarians 
From the 9th Century BC through the 14th Century AD, barbarian
hordes on horseback thundered across Europe, Asia, and Africa. Who
were these barbarians who lived and died by the sword? Shot in film
on location, we examine the conquests of the Vikings, Goths, Mongols,
and Huns, and also their cultures, leaders, and roles in shaping
history. [n.b. the website actually says this starts at 10.20 ...
dunno if that's a typo]

Channel Guide

4:58:16 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

Click for Rome, Italy Forecast

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