Friday, June 11, 2004
THIS DAY IN ANCIENT HISTORY
ante diem iii idus junias
- 1184 B.C. -- Greeks capture Troy [unconfirmed, obviously]
- Matralia in honour of Mater Matuta -- Roman matronae would perform rites for the safety of their kinswomen's children
- during the time of Servius -- dedication of the Temple of Mater Matuta and the Temple of Fortuna in the Forum Boarium (obviously connected to the aforementoned festival)
- 17 B.C. -- ludi Latini et Graeci honorarii (day 7)
- 61 A.D. -- martyrdom of Barnabas at Salamis
- 86 A.D. -- ludi Capitolini (day 6)
- 204 A.D. -- lusus Troiae -- a sort of precision equestrian drill put on by the sons of the rich and famous, probably a lot like the RCMP's Musical Ride
CHATTER: Caesar Flick
The Stax Report at IGN has a review of a second draft script (!) of one of the proposed Caesar-era flicks:
Stax here with my reaction to the screenplay for Caesar! This 156-page second draft dated October 2002 is by Emmy-nominee John Orloff (Band of Brothers). Caesar will be produced by Tom Hanks' Playtone Company and Michael Mann's Forward Pass. Mann, who is also attached to direct the epic Gates of Fire, is slated to helm Caesar as well, provided the project ever moves ahead at Walt Disney Pictures (where it was set-up back in 2000).
Orloff's script recounts the rise to power of Gaius Julius Caesar. It especially focuses on the history and politics of ancient Rome, the last years of the Republic, and the feud between Caesar and Pompey the Great that led to civil war. It is not an adaptation of the William Shakespeare play.
"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" That's something that can be asked of many powerful men, both historical and fictional, and that's the essence of this tale. John Orloff's Caesar is a Godfather-esque tragedy about two powerful men and the woman they both love who are driven apart by politics, ambition and survival. [more]
I'm sure I'm not the only Classical instructor type who explained politics in late Republican Rome in terms of the Godfather ... if this one ever gets under way, it might be worth watching.
CHATTER: Renaming Months
A letter to the editor of the Miami Herald includes this bit of hyperbolic vitriol:
To the revisionists who suggest replacing Ulysses S. Grant, the savior of the Union who enabled the end of slavery, with Reagan on the $50 bill, why not just deify Reagan and be done with it? We could change a day of the week to Reagansday. Why not rededicate the month of July from Julius Caesar to the month of Reagan?
You've got to wonder ... maybe that's how that whole 'July' thing got started. "You want to put up a statue of the guy we just assassinated? Why not put up a whole temple to him! Mehercule, why not deify him completely? And just so we're constantly reminded of his tyranny, why don't we rename a month after him?"
NUNTII: Pergamon Altar Spruced Up
Another one sent into Explorator by DH (thanks again!):
After a decade of painstaking cleaning, Berlin's Pergamon Museum has unveiled the restored marble frieze of the Pergamon Altar, the second century B.C. centerpiece of its collection.
The 371 foot-long frieze decorated the outside walls of the altar, which was built between 197 and 156 B.C. in the present-day Turkish town of Bergama. A German engineer discovered fragments of the frieze, which had been taken apart and incorporated into the walls of a fortress, in 1864.
It displays mythological scenes of gods fighting giants, snarling lions and coiling snakes, with the muscular bodies of Artemis, Zeus and Athena clad in delicately sculpted folds of fabric.
"The Pergamon Altar has never looked so beautiful," Gertrud Platz, the city museums' director of antiquities, said Wednesday. The restoration cost $2.8 million.
The Pergamon Museum was completed in 1930, with the frieze at its heart. By the time Berlin and its museums were reunified in 1990, "it was clear to us all that restoration of the Pergamon Altar was necessary," Platz said.
Still, the project was held up by funding problems in cash-strapped Berlin.
In 1993, San Francisco's Fine Arts Museum and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art offered initial funds to get the restoration under way.
The marble panels, which weigh approximately 2.5 tons and are 7 1/2 feet high, were carefully taken apart for cleaning; parts of the frieze were soaked in baths of water to loosen surface dirt. [more]
The AP report at Yahoo has an little slide show of the 'unveiling' ... it does look rather nicer now.
TTT: Aquae Urbis Romae Project
This was sent in for Explorator (thanks DH!) but clearly is appropriate here. Here's part of the official description of the Aquae Urbis Romae Project under the rubric 'Paedagogical Goals':
The goals of Aquae Urbis Romae are three-fold. The first is to provide a body of contemporary cartographic data that will be an analytical tool for use by architecture, landscape, planning and urban design students, particularly those using Rome as a design laboratory. In addition, historians, classicists, archaeologists, hydrologists, and geographers should also find the material useful. The second goal is to create an electronic archive of historic maps, texts, and images that deal specifically with Roman water history. Complete texts of
major writers such as Sextus Julius Frontinus, and image collections such as the seventeenth century fountain prints of Gianbattista Falda, etc., will be available.
It sounds potentially really useful for Classicists with some interesting virtual reality effects to show urban development, but someone correct me if I'm wrong ... didn't the course of the Tiber change over the period covered by the maps? [The site is still 'under construction']
AWOTV: On TV Tonight
8.00 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.
9.00 p.m. |HISTU|The True Story of Troy
It's the site of history's most legendary war and the Western
world's oldest adventure story. According to myth, it began with a
rigged beauty contest and ended with a giant wooden horse unleashing
utter destruction. Now, archaeologists, literary detectives, and
military analysts are uncovering evidence suggesting the war was
really waged. From archaeological trenches at ancient Troy and the
citadel fortress of King Agamemnon, from Homer to Hollywood, we
search for the true story of Troy.
11.00 p.m. |HINT| Foot Soldier: The Greeks
Story of the brave Greek warriors who adorned themselves in gold,
fought under Alexander the Great, and became a virtually unstoppable
ancient war machine. Host Richard Karn.
11.00 p.m. |HINT| Ancient Civilizations
In this hour, we study sex in the ancient world--from Mesopotamians,
who viewed adultery as a crime of theft, to Romans, who believed that
squatting and sneezing after sex was a reliable method birth control.
We also look at revealing Egyptian and Greek practices--from the
origins of dildos, to intimate relations between Egyptian gods and
goddesses, to the use of crocodile dung as a contraceptive.