Most recent update:7/1/2004; 5:37:22 AM

 Monday, June 21, 2004

ante diem xi kalendas quinctilias

217 B.C. -- Hannibal deals the Romans a major defeat at Lake Trasimene


5:42:58 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: 9/11 Commission

The incipit of an editorial in the North County Times responding to the 9/11 commission's findings might be of interest (even if it might be the only time Quintus Smyrnaeus ever gets mentioned in a newspaper):

"...Then shall war's signal unto us be given -- to them at sea, by sudden flash of torch, to the ambush, by the cry, 'Come forth the Horse!,' when, unexpecting, sleep the sons of Troy."

--- Odysseus to the Achaeans. Quintus Smyrnaeus, The Fall of Troy 12.25

Searching for individual or departmental responsibility in the after-the-fact happenings in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001 can be a waste of precious time.

Unfortunately, that is how is playing out to the public eye.

5:32:29 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

ARTICLES: By Yannis Hamilakis

A note on AegeaNet took me to the homepage of Dr. Yannis Hamilakis, who is a senior lecturer in the department of Archaeology at the University of Southampton. His C.V. is there, along with the usual list of papers published etc., and a handful of them are available online as pdfs which might be of interest to rogueclassicism readers:

Pigs for the Gods: Animal burnt sacrifices at a Mycenaean sanctuary.

“The other Parthenon”: Antiquity and national memory at Makronisos
Cyberpast/cyberspace/cybernation: constructing Hellenism in hyperreality.

5:26:31 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Pitt on Homer

The Times of India seems to be the first media outlet to ask Brad Pitt to show his 'intellectual side' by commenting on various aspects of that Troy flick. Here are some excerpts:

What was it like to play a legendary character like Achilles?

That's where the research comes in. There was a lot of material out there to digest and it was good to have so much to cling to. I felt very anchored going into it and with the script being really strong, it was exciting.

What is your perception of the character of Achilles?

Homer does an amazing job revealing his character very subtly, particularly since The Iliad isn't told in a linear fashion. Little by little, Achilles' personality unfolds. One moment you think he's this cold hearted killer and then Homer goes back in time to show another facet of Achilles, and you find out that in the past he's actually operated from a place of great humanity and grace. And so it's this conflict and these contradictions that Homer keeps exposing to the reader to form this transcendent human being.


Was it a fun shoot?

Well, it's a Greek tragedy so it's not the most uplifting of subject matters but I guess you can be a kid in a playground a little bit.

For me, I was living like a monk and keeping to myself for the first part of filming. I'd still talk to people but I had to confine myself a little bit initially, just so I could sink into the thing and know where I was with the character. I made up for it at the end.


Why do you think the story of Troy is so relevant today?

Well, it's a bit discouraging to see that we haven't come as far as we think we have. We're not evolved like our technology. Personally speaking, we seem to still be dealing with the same issues and so I believe that means the story really resonates today.

Is the story faithful to The Iliad ?

I think the writer David Benioff did a great job of pulling out pretty much the essence of Homer's story. Most of the elements are there. But we do it in a much more linear fashion. You see the chain of events that sparked a war but it happens over a much shorter period.  [...]

I'll let the reader decide if Pitt can be designated "more than just a pretty face" on the basis of this one ...

5:17:36 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: James Forrestal's Suicide

This one took a bit of digging to figure out. A week or so ago, journalist Ruth Gmeiner passed awar at the age of 85. She made a name for herself for, among other things, being the one to break the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown vs.  Board of Education. A retrospective of her career concludes thusly:

Her abbreviated journalistic career had more than one highlight. Before the Supreme Court, she covered first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and a variety of federal agencies; after the court beat, she was assigned to cover first lady Bess Truman at the White House, the 1948 and 1952 political conventions, the Alger Hiss investigation and the Puerto Rican nationalists who fired a volley of shots during a session of the House of Representatives.

The night of the Gridiron Club dinner in 1949, news editor Frandsen was alerted to get out to Bethesda Naval Hospital. He left an after-dinner party and picked up Gmeiner, his reporter, on the way. While he and other journalists hollered for information outside the hospital, Gmeiner sweet-talked her way into the 16th-floor room of former secretary of defense James V. Forrestal and found, next to his bed, a book of poetry open to Sophocles' "Ajax," which includes the lines:

When reason's day

Sets rayless -- joyless -- quenched in cold decay

Better to die, and sleep

The never-waking sleep, than linger on

And dare to live when the soul's life is gone.

Her soon-to-be husband made that the first paragraph in Gmeiner's story on Forrestal's suicide.

A nice summary (I'm guessing) of James Forrestal's career --including passing mention of his connection to UFO's (where I first heard about him) -- is available here. The Sophocles piece is designated his suicide note. I wonder if some group saw the Ajax as the cause of Forrestal's suicide ...

5:12:06 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

GOSSIP: More Helen of Troy Headed Our Way

... and this time, it comes from the pen of AC/DC's Brian Johnson:

AC/DC singer Brian Johnson is still hard at work on his upcoming musical about Helen of Troy. The singer was recently in Greece to film a documentary tracing the origins of one of Greece's most famous names.

Another US production has been documenting the early days of Brian's musical for an upcoming TV special to be called Highway To Helen. Johnson has spent the past six years working on the musical.

His version of the Helen of Troy story started out as a side-project to his work with AC/DC but delays in funding have lead to delays in the project ever getting off the ground. Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan is tipped to play Helen while British actor Malcolm Macdowell (A Clockwork Orange) has been selected as a Narrator. Macdowell recently made his recording debut singing one of the songs for the soundtrack in Brian's studio.

The story of Helen of Troy has been done before by Australia rocker Jon English whose 'Paris' musical is currently being licensed to small theatre groups for performances. English wrote his musical 20 years ago but only recently has had the show performed live. []

I'm sure we can all picture Paris singing to Hector:

She had sightless eyes,
Telling me no lies,
Knockin' me out with those Laconian thighs,

4:55:04 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Homeric Investment Advice

This one turned up in various newspapers on the weekend ... here's the incipit of an investment column which appeared in the Post-Gazette (among other places):

Heard the one about the monkey and the typewriter?

"If one puts an infinite number of monkeys in front of (strongly built) typewriters and lets them clap away, there is a certainty that one of them (will) come out with an exact version of the Iliad," writes Nassim Nicholas Taleb in a new book, "Fooled by Randomness."

The monkey typist story is an old one, and the key word is "infinite." But Taleb takes this hoary tale a step further. "Now that we have found that hero among monkeys, would any reader invest his life savings on a bet that the monkey would write 'The Odyssey' next?"

Taleb's point is that the past frequently tells us nothing at all about the future, even though many of us believe it does and make investments accordingly. "Think about the monkey showing up at your door with his impressive past performance. Hey, he wrote 'The Iliad.' "

The lesson here for investors is powerful and frightening. How much can you rely on the track records of investment advisers, mutual fund managers, newspaper columnists or even the market as a whole in making decisions about your investment portfolio? Not nearly as much as you probably think. [more]

And here I thought those monkeys were writing Shakespeare ...

4:48:28 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AUDIO: Elaine Fantham on the Elysian Fields

The anniversary of the first baseball game (June 19) played in Hoboken, N.J., at Elysian Field serves as a point of departure for an interview on NPR's Weekend Edition with Elaine Fantham all about the Elysian Fields and who gets to go there (with obvious comparisons with our notions of 'heaven'). Worth a listen.
4:42:20 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Philipp Walchli, Studien zu den literarischen Beziehungen zwischen Plutarch und Lukian.

M.G.L. Cooley (ed.), The Age of Augustus.

Shelley Hales, The Roman House and Social Identity.

4:36:22 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV Still Delayed

We continue to run late ... I'll try to get the tv listings up some time today (I'm in the midst of creating a big slide show thing for our graduates, who will be going through the motions tomorrow) ... in the meantime, I do have a pile of stuff to keep you busy ...
4:33:20 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

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