Most recent update:6/1/2004; 5:22:01 AM

 Thursday, May 27, 2004
NUNTII: Roman Ring Found

According to the Scunthorpe Telegraph, a metal detectorist has found a Roman ring ... here's the info of interest:

 One man and his metal detector have uncovered a Roman ring - believed to date back to 3AD - in a North Lincolnshire field.

Bill Sargeant came across the potentially precious find as he roamed fields in Kirton-in-Lindsey, and it has now been officially classed as treasure at an inquest. North Lincolnshire coroner Stewart Atkinson praised Mr Sargeant for handing in the ring, which is gold with a green glass setting, and it has now been sent to the British Museum in London for precise dating.


Included in the display were a hoard of Roman silver coins from Bottesford, which like the ring, were also believed to date back to 3AD.

One can only imagine how "precise" the dating of the British Museum will be ...

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BLOGWATCH: @ Laudator Temporis Acti

I mentioned this blog the other day ... a recent offering has a nice selection of quotes from ancient sources on Living Unknown, which appeal to me for some reason ....
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ante diem vi kalendas junias

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CHATTER: Troy and Iraq

A piece in the Globe and Mail walks -- Cage-aux-Folles-like -- that fine line between movie review and editorial in a piece with the headline "Connecting the dots between Troy and Iraq" (on the entertainment page). Here's the last half or so [gloss: the 'other' movie being referred to is the USA Network's miniseries on the same subject]:

Neither film refers to the gods at all, which is simply ludicrous, as they are constantly intervening in the action, making suggestions to the main characters and even interfering in actual events. (Paris's single combat with Menelaus, for example, should be interrupted by Aphrodite, who spirits Paris away in a cloud of dust.) I guess the filmmakers didn't want to complicate the story with a second entire cast of characters, or perhaps they didn't want to upset Christian America with an apparent acceptance of polytheism.

That's not the only censorship of troubling ancient values. In both movies, Achilles is a baffling and opaque character, because both directors have been afraid to tackle his story and his motivation. Why does Achilles get so upset about the death of Patroclus, his "cousin"? He has seen dozens of his close friends die - they are all warriors, what's the big deal? Most analyses of the Iliad refer to Patroclus not as the hero's cousin but as his "dear friend" or "great friend." We know what that means in ancient Greece. Why else does Achilles go mad and savage with grief and rage? He has lost his lover.

So why is the story of the Trojan War popular now, if its fundamental values - polytheism, aristocracy, magic, slavery, accepted homosexuality - are so inimical to a contemporary mentality? Why do we keep coming back to those terrifying images of the thousand-ship fleet, of a great warrior descending into brutality?

Troy the film does a great job with the invasion scene, the ships landing on the sandy beach. The troops leaping into the shallow water under a hail of arrows, some drowning in the surf, the long lines like ants making their way toward the bunkers. . . . If it seems familiar, it's because it looks so much like the D-Day scenes in Saving Private Ryan, and like actual newsreel footage of the Normandy invasions. Wars don't change very much.

Why is Achilles ever so fascinating? Well, guess what he does, in a foreign land, mad with sorrow, at war, having seen his loved one die? He turns into a barbarian. He kills his enemy and then degrades his corpse by dragging it behind his chariot around the walls of Troy, a ritual parade of humiliation. He breaks the rules of civilized combat. Everyone is shocked. Then he feels bad about it later.

Hello. Where have we seen this recently? First the Iraqis did it, to those "contractors" they killed, then the Americans did it to at least one dead prisoner at Abu Ghraib. Everyone was shocked and appalled on both sides. You'd think this had never happened before in a war.

Actually, it happens in every war. The Greeks were the most civilized people on Earth when Achilles, the greatest hero of them all, had his temper tantrum (and subsequent remorse). No one thought that the Belgians would join the ranks of the cruel and bloodthirsty when they subjugated the Congo. The Belgians - the dowdy, homebody Belgians! And I don't even need to mention Canada - the polite, self-effacing Canadians! - who, we were sure, would never have been capable of torturing teenagers to death on official duty. This is what happens in wars, and it is precisely why the United Nations advises against them.

Here is another part of the Trojan War that is familiar from several invasions in history: The siege of the city did not last a few days, as shown in the movie. The Greeks could not immediately subdue Troy, so they occupied the Trojan countryside for 10 years. By the end of which time they were very demoralized, sick of killing and hatred, and many of them wanted to go home. Hollywood has left that part out.

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GOSSIP: Alexander the Great

The first trailer of Oliver Stone's Alexander the Great hit the ewaves yesterday and, as might be expected, the premature reviews of the movie have begun. From Empire Online:

The new trailer is your first chance to gauge the level of Stone's success and initial impressions have us leaning in his favour. The look of the film is sumptuous (as one would expect from the director) with Alexander and his men charging through a dusty desert landscape. The man himself rides before his troops in a suitably regal fashion and the magisterial procession through the city streets looks simply glorious. Subsequent eye-pleasing vistas are paraded before our eyes before Alexander faces off against a Carthaginian war elephant in a scene you can see showcased in the new issue of Empire's Coming Soon preview.

So it's all good then? Well, not quite. No, we're not going to whinge that Farrell looks like a girl (he does, but that's beside the point), it's the other thing: the accent. While early reports that the actor sounded more like a 'Dublin bus driver' than a Macedonian general are somewhat exaggerated, we do have to question Stone's decision to let the actor's native brogue run amok. Still, if you spent your time worrying about every dodgy accent you'd never go to the cinema again. [more]

FWIW, the trailer is currently only available (as far as I can tell) in QuickTime 5.0.2 format (the one with ITunes) which refuses to install correctly for me (and actually came close to crashing this thing).

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CHATTER: Costner Classicist

Okay ... Classics content is non-existent in this one, although it did turn up in my scan. It has an interesting description of Keven Costner as a classicist (it's a review of his movie Open Range) which might be a useful definition of what a Classicist is. After that, though, it meanders into a labyrinth of incomprehensible banality (just like that!):

Itís also loaded with another splendidly caustic turn from Robert Duvall. Costner is a classicist by nature, an earthbound rock in times of listless postmodern whimsy and brash crowd-pleasers. His film luxuriates in its holy landscape of empty plains and rivers in full spate, taking its own good time to summon up the requisite tension and explode, with stunning vérité gunplay, into inevitable violence.

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CHATTER: Homer Metaphorus or Maybe Metagainstus

A column in the Hong Kong Standard is dazzling for its confusing mixture of metaphors, inter alia:

So we remain caught in a vicious circularity of thought. While functional constituencies unfairly give influence to wealth, dominance of the poor because the poor have more votes in any ``one man, one vote system'' leads, as Stephen Brown pointed out on Monday, to the tyranny of the majority and expropriation of the rich via the tax system.

How do we negotiate between the monster of Scylla on the one side and Charybdis on the other?

This allusion to Homer's Odyssey seems apt with a summer blockbuster about the siege of Troy from his Iliad filling theatres. We certainly do not want to see Hong Kong sacked by hungry hordes, even if they use calls for direct elections instead of a Trojan Horse to breach the protective walls our elites have erected around their political influence.

So profound is this fear of being tricked, then sacked that full direct election for all members of Legco has been called everything but a Trojan Horse by opponents. Maybe they have not read Homer. Now, they can see the movie. But they have had the idea and fear that democracy posed an insidious danger to their interests all along.

Apparently they have sold their belief the only choices are favour the rich or favour the poor so well that the once egalitarian Communist Party says it cannot allow us full democracy lest we turn, as they did, to socialism. We must avoid the deceit of those who advocate democracy, they intone; their real aims are welfarism and independence. To make sure the democratic Trojan Horse stays outside the walls, they not only forbid direct elections in 2007-08, they also contemplate new security legislation to apply in Hong Kong against secessionism.

Is a Homeric tragedy in the offing for our own golden city? Must we choose between unleashing class warfare or entrenching gross inequity? Is it either ineffectual patriotic tycoon-ocracy or democratic secessionist socialism?

Homeric tragedy?

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CHATTER: Another Asterix Flick

In a piece on an upcoming French film festival, the Malaysian Star informs us of another Asterix flick:

Following the success of Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra last year, Asterix and Obelix make a comeback in Asterix & Obelix versus Caesar. 

Based on the popular Asterix comics, the movie directed by Claude Zidi and starring Christian Clavier and Gerard Depardieu, features the duo trying to save a village from falling into the hands of Julius Caesar. The movie also stars Laetitia Casta.

I'm still waiting to see Mission Cleopatra in English!

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UPDATE: Iliad in MessengerSpeak Update

Inquiries here and at the Classics list have borne fruit (thanks UB and AF!) ... the version of the first five books of the Iliad translated into MessengerSpeak -- complete with emoticons -- is available in a page at Microsoft's UK branch. It's not a 'serious' thing and is kind of fun, although everything is as a screen shot (which is why it wasn't showing up in my searches). Here's Book III as an example:

Yep ... that's pretty much how my Grade Sevens would write it if given half the chance ... sans the Britishisms (substitute wuz for woz, e.g.) and probably with a few LOL peppered in there. Perhaps when this blog makes the transition to Wordpress, which has some smileys built into it, I'll do my own 'translation' ... maybe Microsoft will give me some funding to make the transition to do so 8^).

5:02:41 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

8.00 p.m. |HINT| The Rise of Christianity: The First 1000 Years, Pt. 1
The story of the crucifixion of Jesus, Paul's preachings to the
Gentiles, the crackdown by Roman authorities, the conversion of
Constantine, and the fall of Rome to the Goths in 461 AD. 

10.00 p.m. |HINT|  The Rise of Christianity: The First 1000 Years,
Pt. 2 
The glory of the Eastern Roman Empire, the challenge of Islam, the
dawn of the Dark Ages, and the coming of the Holy Roman Empire, which
converted Europe to Christianity about 1,000 years after the death of

11.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Discovery Time Capsule: Ancient Civilizations

Channel Guide

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Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

Click for Rome, Italy Forecast

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