Latest update: 4/7/2005; 2:20:06 PM
quidquidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ Hercules Series

While trying to find the Kathimerini article mentioned below, I came across this excerpt from a thing about NBC's new series at the Futon Critic:

"Hercules," from Hallmark Entertainment, stars Sean Astin ("Lord of the Rings" trilogy), Leelee Sobieski ("Uprising," "Joan of Arc"), Elizabeth Perkins ("Big") and Timothy Dalton ("Licence to Kill") – along with Paul Telfer (USA's "Spartacus") in the title role as the legendary Greek hero.

Emmy Award winner Robert Halmi Sr. ("The Odyssey," "Gulliver's Travels," "Merlin") is executive producer of the mythic tale based on the spectacular exploits of Hercules, the super-strong figure fathered by the supreme Greek god Zeus. The production, filmed amid the breathtaking scenery of New Zealand, follows Hercules who, after killing his three sons, is compelled to redeem himself by performing 12 heroic labors – including slaying the multi-headed Hydra and the dreaded Nemean lion.

With groundbreaking special effects, "Hercules" is the definitive re-telling of the most famous myth of all – the story of a half-god, half-man whose extraordinary feats of strength would elevate him to the status of legend on Earth and immortality in the heavens. Also starring are Kim Coates ("Open Range"), Australian actress Leeanna Walsman ("Star Wars: Attack of the Clones") and actor/wrestler Tyler Mane ("Troy," "X-Men").

Emmy and Directors Guild Award winner Roger Young ("Bitter Harvest," "Murder in Mississippi") directs from a screenplay by Charles Edward Pogue ("Dragonheart"). "Hercules" is a production of Hallmark Entertainment.

Poking around NBC and Hallmark Entertainment, it was somewhat difficult to find more details (which strikes me as strange), but here's the synopsis info from Hallmark:

Hallmark Entertainment has brought fantasy and myth to life in original television events such as Jason and the Argonauts, Arabian Nights, Merlin, and The Odyssey. Now comes the awesome story of the greatest legend of them all.

As Alcmene (Elizabeth Perkins, Finding Nemo), Princess of Thebes, awaits the return of her husband Amphitryon (Timothy Dalton, The Living Daylights) from war, the virtuous bride falls victim to the licentious Zeus and finds herself carrying the great god’s child. Born Hercules (Paul Telfer, Spartacus), the strapping lad is rejected by his mother, envied by his brother Iphicles (Luke Ford, The Junction Boys), and loathed by Zeus’s wife Hera. Seething with rage from the heavens, she abhors Hercules as damnable evidence of her husband’s infidelities—yet the demigod has his allies: his foster-father Amphitryon, who exalts in the boy’s potential; his faithful companion Linus (Oscar nominee Sean Astin, The Lord of the Rings trilogy), who promises to sing of his deeds far and wide; the blind oracle Tiresias, who foresees an extraordinary future; the beautiful nymph Deianeira (Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Leelee Sobieski, Joan of Arc), who secretly loves him…and the priestess Megara, who becomes his wife.

Unbeknownst to Hercules, however, Megara and her sons are merely tools of the vengeful Hera, plotting against him and initiating events that lead to banishment from his people. Fearing there is only one way to atone for his sins, Hercules agrees to tasks—impossible challenges designed to destroy him—set forth by Megara’s new husband, King Eurystheus (Kristian Schmid, Neighbours). From his journey through the Stymphalian Swamps in search of the slashing harpies to his face-off with the leather-winged Nemean Lion to the man-eating mares of Lemnos, and, finally, across the flaming waves of the River Styx into the depths of Hell itself, Hercules must survive terrifying odds to regain his stature as a god, as a hero, and as a man—accomplishing feats that will elevate him to the status of legend on Earth and achieve immortality in the heavens.

A truly epic miniseries that takes you to thundering new heights of adventure, breathtaking high drama, and unparalleled excitement, Hercules towers above all others for fantastic entertainment of mythic proportions.

Wow ... I wonder who's playing Hera ... and Megara ...


::Saturday, January 22, 2005 7:41:58 AM::
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~ Alexander the Great: Treasures From an Epic Era ...

We haven't included many 'exhibition reviews' here at rogueclassicism, primarily because most of them are only three or four sentence blurbs which really don't tell us much about the exhibition myself. The New York Times, however, is an exception with a review by Grace Glueck (who I believe has the best job in the entire world) of the Alexander exhibit at the Onassis Cultural Center ... here's a bit from the end:

What did he look like? A hero, of course. The most impressive portrait here, made between 340 and 330 B.C., is a marble head of him found in the Acropolis in 1886, of unknown authorship. With part of its nose missing, it depicts an idealized youthful face, with deep-set eyes and a shaggy mass of hair fronted by the cowlick over the right eye, a hallmark of Alexander's features.

Another marble head, from the early third century B.C., is a little more emotive, showing the king with the same cowlicked hair mass, but with a slightly open mouth and the characteristic tilt of the neck he was said to exhibit. His likenesses - the most famous, by Lysippos, has not been found - may have given a leonine quality to his head not only to impart a godlike appearance, but also to offset his average stature.

In winning the many battles of his campaign, Alexander was helped enormously by the superior quality of Greek weapons, developed - the catalog tells us - in the conviction that warfare was the utmost virtue, and that every citizen should be willing to lay down his life for his land. And the many battles fought by the Greeks resulted in ever more sophisticated arms and strategies for deploying them.

Among the swords, helmets, shields and leg protectors on display are the remnants of a sarissa, or elongated spear-pike, a particularly Macedonian weapon with a wicked, leaf-shaped tip and a point at the other end for setting it in the ground.

Supplied by Philip II to his troops, this murderous pike - the only large weapon they carried - was used by soldiers deployed in a phalanx that moved sideways in a dense formation. Each soldier was not only protected by his shield but the shield of the man to his right, and his sarissa, its length determined by his position in the phalanx, threatened the upper body of an enemy. The phalanx was thus a tough wall of spears almost impossible to penetrate. The development of the sarissa had a profound effect on Macedonian success in battle and on the warfare of the age.

But warfare was men's province. The show does not neglect Macedonian women, whose dress and fashion in the capital city, Pella (where Alexander was born and where his theatrical mother, Olympias, was very much part of political life), took after the lifestyle of the royal palace.

A display of terra cotta figures, manufactured in Pella in the fourth century B.C. and the Hellenistic period, gives a good view of the basics of dress among upper- and middle-class women. Each of two typical figures from the third century B.C. is shown wearing next to the body a long, close-fitting chiton, of wool or linen, and over it a second garment, a himation, also of wool or linen, that could be draped in various ways. In both, the hair is long but done up: parted in the middle, drawn to either side in curls and arranged in a bun at the back of the head. Traces of pink or red pigment linger on the lips and hair.

With their garb, the women wore jewelry, stylish creations often made in Macedonian workshops, whose heyday began in the mid-fourth century B.C. Fed by abundant gold from Macedonian-controlled mines in the Pangaion area, they were evolving in this era to a point of highly sophisticated craftsmanship. And there is a good deal of it on display: earrings, rings, bracelets, armlets, necklaces, pendants, medallions and buttons - many rescued from the graves to which they accompanied their owners - all attesting that the stuff was no less in demand than it is today.

Although not as interesting or elaborate as later Etruscan jewelry, there are a few dazzlers here. One is a pair of gold drop earrings topped by elaborate honeysuckle palmettes; dangling from each is a figure of Ganymede being carried off by an eagle. The spread wings of the eagle, actually Zeus in disguise, form a theatrical backdrop for the figure.

But the most spectacular display is a gold ensemble from the tomb of an unknown noblewoman buried in an important part of the vast cemetery of Aigai, once the Macedonian capital. Lying in one of the few graves untouched by robbers, she was wrapped in a lavish, gold-embellished shroud, now vanished but leaving in place its copious adornments of jewelry, gold ribbons and rosettes.

The outline of her body, as indicated by the numerous ornaments, is on display in a special case. Large gold fibulae and pins that held her clothes together; a gold-strap diadem and three gold tubal adornments for her hair; gold-strap earrings; a heavy, gold-beaded necklace and pendant; sandals with silver-covered soles; and many other bedazzlements help make this 1998 discovery remarkable.

These are some of the high points of the show, which, if not the strongest or most definitive exhibition on Alexander and his world, is the kind of display that could tempt a viewer into further explorations.

Now that's reviewin' ...

::Saturday, January 22, 2005 7:33:52 AM::
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~ VDH Ponders Epaminondas

A very interesting little section from Victor Davis Hanson's latest in the National Review:

My favorite example of castigating idealism is far older and from fourth-century B.C. Greece. By the 370s B.C. idealists were firmly in control of the government of conservative ancient Thebes, and turned an oligarchic Boeotian Confederacy into a real democracy. Convinced after their victory at Leuktra (371 B.C.) that a wounded Sparta was still a perennial threat, the new Boeotian democrats mobilized a Hellenic coalition of the willing to drop the old realist idea of containment or of just waiting for Sparta to attack.

Thus they embraced the preemptive act of invading Sparta and freeing 250,000 Laconian and Messenian indentured serfs or helots ("those taken"). The preemptory invasion was aimed at bringing freedom and democracy to Greeks heretofore deemed less than fully Hellenic and thought incapable of self-governance. Indeed, over the past century thousands of helots had been arbitrarily executed and routinely tortured and humiliated by their Spartan overlords. The Boeotians thought that by freeing the helots and creating autonomous democracies on Sparta’s borders they could remake the Peloponnese and end the old pathology in which a professional Gestapo-like military coerced their neighbors and meddled abroad, while fed and supported by a veritable nation of serfs.

The subsequent successful invasion led by the general Epaminondas was one of the few military operations of the ancient world that had real elements of idealism. Yet the circle around Epaminondas was also suspected of being influenced by the Pythagoreans, zealots who had fallen under the spell of the subversive and dangerous teachings of Pythagoras. The latter purportedly had promulgated weird notions, ranging from the equality of women to vegetarianism, and his work seems to have influenced Plato. Perhaps, Pythagoras was an ancient bogeyman not unlike the contemporary Leo Strauss, and was used to explain the otherwise inexplicable fact that the Boeotians of all people went into the heart of darkness to free the people of the Peloponnese.

One last thing about such appreciation of idealism in foreign policy: After Epaminondas emasculated Sparta, liberated the helots, and fostered a democratic Peloponnese, the Thebans, far from hailing the hero, put the returning commander on trial for usurping his prescribed tenure.

The more things change, the more they…

I've always thought Epaminondas had good movie potential ...

::Saturday, January 22, 2005 7:27:45 AM::
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~ Pizza Origins

I think we've had the Romans-invented-pizza claim before, but the Sydney Morning Herald has an in passing comment which is somewhat intriguing:

Well, yes, pizza was invented in the south of Italy. We know this because fossilised discs of dough, clearly intended as pizza bases, have been found in the ashes of Pompeii.

Does anyone know of a source for this?

::Saturday, January 22, 2005 7:24:28 AM::
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~ Shrine of Hercules Found

An rc-and-Explorator reader sent this one in, which curiously didn't show up in any of my scans (thanks DK!) ... Kathimerini reports on the discovery of a shrine of Hercules at Thebes:

Rummaging in the dirt, Costas Kakoseos pulls up pieces of history steeped in legend.

It is an archaeological site dubbed “Hercules’ House” — the place, experts say, that the ancient Greeks may have held to be the mythological hero’s birthplace.

Thebes, an unattractive town about 70 kilometers (about 45 miles) north of Athens, stands on a spectacular buried heritage. The latest excavation, begun last February, revealed the remains of an altar and ancient dwellings used for more than 3,000 years.

Vassilis Aravantinos, head of the regional archaeological service, said finds on the site tally with descriptions by the poet Pindar some 2,500 years ago of a shrine to Hercules built on his legendary birthplace.

“We had waited for many years for this discovery but it never came... These findings support the ancient writings,” Aravantinos said. “There are signs of worship of Hercules.”

Small bronze figures, including one showing Hercules grappling with a lion — both characters standing as if posing for a photograph — are a key piece of evidence.

While shaking soil through a mesh-bottomed crate, Kakoseos throws clay chips — fragments of ancient pots — into a plastic bag. A few are put aside and marked with labels for special attention.

“We’re still finding beads, bones and coins. There are so many, you can’t imagine,” said Kakoseos, who performs much of the labor.

The illegitimate son of almighty Zeus, Hercules was best known for the 12 labors imposed on him by the gods, including slaying a lion and a nine-headed serpent.

With most of the 335-square-meter site explored, archaeologists have recovered several hundred ceramic vessels, small bronze statues, animal bones, and a thick layer of ash created from burning animals sacrificed to the gods. Objects discovered date from the third millennium BC to the late Byzantine era. The dig and the findings began when construction workers were moving earth to build a hotel.

Hotel construction has been suspended indefinitely. Development in this ancient town comes with the risk of finding more history in the foundations.

“Every bit of earth that is moved, we take a look at,” said Aravantinos, whose archaeological service is currently excavating half a dozen Theban sites. “We have to.”

He said the latest discovery was long sought by archaeologists because of the legends about Hercules’ birthplace.

Other finds are still being pieced together at a small workshop beside Thebes’ tiny museum, where cats roam around ancient marble statues in the courtyard and the inside rooms are packed with some of the finest artifacts in Greece. Restorers, dressed and equipped like dentists, repair the statuettes and assemble vases and other pottery from an enormous array of fragments. Their room is filled with glued remains in stacked crates, and the tables littered with solvents, scalpels and adhesives.

The discoveries from “Hercules’ House” will not be properly displayed until a new museum — still in the planning stage — is built.

::Saturday, January 22, 2005 7:21:37 AM::
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~ JOB: Postdoc @ Oberlin

The Department of Classics at Oberlin College invites applications for a full-time non-continuing faculty position as a Charles Beebe Martin Postdoctoral Fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences. Appointment to this position will be for a term of four semesters, beginning the first semester of the academic year 2005-2006, and will carry the rank of Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics.

The incumbent will teach two courses/year in the general area of Classical Civilization, including the History of Rome in the first year and the History of Greece in the second year.  Among the qualifications required for appointment is the Ph.D. degree in Classics, awarded no earlier than 2002, or in hand by July 1, 2005.  Candidates must demonstrate interest and potential excellence in undergraduate teaching, particularly in the area of ancient social history.  For more information about the Department of Classics at Oberlin, consult our website, .  Phone: 440-775-8390; Fax: 440-775-8084

Oberlin College is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer with a strong institutional commitment to the development of a climate that supports equality of opportunity and respect of differences based on gender, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation.

To be assured of consideration, letters of application, including a curriculum vitae, graduate academic transcripts, and at least three letters of reference, should be sent to  Thomas Van Nortwick, Chair,  Department of Classics, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, 44074 by March 15, 2005.  Application materials received after that date may be considered until the position is filled. Abstracts will be judged anonymously by two referees.

... seen on AegeaNet

::Saturday, January 22, 2005 7:13:23 AM::
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~ Nuntii Latini

The folks at Nuntii Latini have given me permission to include their news here, so I'm thinking of putting up one bit of Latin news per day. Here's the first:

Auxilium in Asiam mittitur (14.1.2005)

Variae civitates, quae se calamitati in Asia e tsunamo ortae subventuras esse pollicitae erant, promissis suis laudabiliter steterunt, ut ait Jan Egeland, director auxiliaris Nationum Unitarum.

"Inauditum habetur", inquit", duabus septimanis post cladem exactis longe maximam partem auxilii celeris, quo in hac re adversa terris Asiaticis opus est, iam perlatam esse."

Moderatores Finniae se ad opem quinquaginta fere milionum euronum obligaverunt.

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

::Saturday, January 22, 2005 7:11:24 AM::
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~ Review from Scholia

Edward M. Harris and Lene Rubinstein (edd.), The Law and the Courts in Ancient Greece

::Saturday, January 22, 2005 7:05:10 AM::
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~ Review from BMCR

Conybeare on Conybeare on Hardmeier.

::Saturday, January 22, 2005 7:04:23 AM::
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~ AWOTV: On TV Today

6.00 p.m. |HINT| Atlantis: The Lost Civilization
Why has the legend of a continent under the sea captivated the imaginations of generations of people that have searched for Atlantis? Did Atlantis really exist, and if so, where? Plato discussed the legend in two of his dialogues, Timaeus and Critias, the only known written accounts from ancient sources that refer specifically to Atlantis. Atlantis has been linked to Bimini, the Canary Islands, Santorini, and Troy, among other places. What kind of people were the Atlanteans? According to scholars of Atlantis, they developed a technologically advanced civilization that has yet to be surpassed. Did Atlantis sink to the bottom of the ocean in a day and a night? What catastrophic events may have led to its demise? Or is the tale pure fiction invented by a Plato to illustrate a philosophic argument?

7.00 p.m. |NGU|Atlantis
What do we really know about the lost city of Atlantis and what happened on the day it died? Legend tells us that the golden civilization became so corrupt and depraved that it was destroyed by the angry gods, but did the city ever exist at all?

HINT = History International

NGU = National Geographic (US)

::Saturday, January 22, 2005 7:03:17 AM::
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1. n. an abnormal state or condition resulting from the forced migration from a lengthy Classical education into a profoundly unClassical world; 2. n. a blog about Ancient Greece and Rome compiled by one so afflicted (v. "rogueclassicist"); 3. n. a Classics blog.

Publishing schedule:
Rogueclassicism is updated daily, usually before 7.00 a.m. (Eastern) during the week. Give me a couple of hours to work on my sleep deficit on weekends and holidays, but still expect the page to be updated by 10.00 a.m. at the latest.

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