Latest update: 4/7/2005; 2:21:04 PM
quidquidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ Alexander Criticisms

More controversy/criticism of the Alexander flick 'overseas' ... from RFE inter alia:

Zoroastrian communities in the United States and Parsis in India got upset for different reasons. They noticed that in promos for the movie, the winged Zoroastrian symbol of Farohar or Fravahar was used in the background.

Zoroastrians know Alexander as "the Accursed" because during his conquest of the Persian Empire he burned Zoroastrian holy texts and scriptures.

Kaveh Farrokh is an expert on the history and linguistics of Persia, particularly in the pre-Islamic era.

"One of the reasons we don't know many aspects of Zoroastrian teachings is that people wrongly blamed it on the Arab invasion of the 7th century. In reality, we have to go back and look at Alexander's invasion, which was extremely destructive, and many of the 'magis,' the Zoroastrians priests, were killed," Farrokh says.

Maneck Bhujwala, a Zoroastrian priest based in the United States, told RFE/RL in an e-mail that Zubin Mehta -- an internationally renowned conductor of classical music and a member of India's Parsi community -- was able to talk directly with Stone and was able to get an agreement from Stone to stop the commercial.

Since the release of the movie, some historians have expressed surprise and regret that some key events of the time, such as Alexander's burning of the city of Persepolis, are overlooked.

There are different historical accounts about the arson. Some say Alexander instigated it in revenge for the destruction caused by Persians in Greece in the 5th century before Christ. Other say Alexander did it while he was drunk, on the encouragement of a woman.

Professor Robin Lane Fox, one of the world's top experts on Hellenic studies and author of a book on Alexander the Great, advised Stone on the movie. He says the epic drama has a "strong reference to history" and that including all the facts would have made the movie very long.

However, some experts say there are historical mistakes in the movie.

Farrokh says the portrayals of Persians and Greeks in the film are inaccurate. As an example, he mentions the battle of Gaugamela where Alexander the Great and his troops defeated the Persian army.
Since the release of the movie, some historians have expressed surprise and regret that some key events of the time, such as Alexander's burning of the city of Persepolis, are overlooked.

"Greek forces are typically shown very organized, disciplined, and so on, and what's very disturbing is when the so-called Persians are shown confronting the Greeks, you see them turbaned. Turbans are not even a Persian item, and flies are seen circling their heads at one point. Their armies are totally disorganized. What is not known is that the Persians actually had uniforms. They marched in discipline, and music was actually used -- trumpets and so on -- to allow them to march in disciplined rank," Farrokh says.

Farrokh believes Persian women are also inaccurately portrayed in the film.

In the movie, Alexander marries an Iranian woman, Roxanna, played by Rosario Dawson, who is black. Farrokh says having a black actress playing the role of Roxanna is like having Lucy Liu, an Asian American actress, portraying Queen Victoria of Britain.

"Roxanna itself is derived from old Iranian 'rokh-shwan' -- 'rokh' means profile, 'shwan' means shiny-faced or of fair complexion. The face mask that Roxanna wears is totally inaccurate," Farrokh says.

Some Iranians living in the United States staged protests against the movie, which they consider to be one-sided. But Mehdi Zokayi, chief editor of an Iranian magazine in Los Angeles, says the protests were ineffective.

"I think the protests were very dispersed and didn't last long. Some people, some media, wrote letters, e-mails and decided to show their protests. But since their actions was not correlated, it didn't draw any attention. Some boycotted the movie, but I think many went to see the movie out of curiosity," Zokayi says.  [more]

::Saturday, January 29, 2005 7:26:56 AM::
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~ Xenophonophilia

From CIO comes another application of ancient paradigm to the modern business world ... here's the incipit:

By all rights, they were done. Deep inside enemy territory, their putative leader dead, they should all have been slaughtered. But it didn't work out that way because their nominal leader, Cyrus the Younger, a Persian prince, was not their real leader. Their genuine leader, Xenophon, a Greek general, was one of their own, respected, trusted, and elected.

The Greeks were superior fighters, both tactically and technologically. They knew how to fight as a team, and their swords and shields were uniquely adapted for their phalanx warfare. They also possessed the most salient edge of all: leadership. Xenophon, like all Greek commanders, led from the front; he was seen in the thick of combat, never flinching, always seeming to do the right thing. Amazingly, Xenophon returned with the majority of the Ten Thousand, incurring few casualties in war, but losing some to weather and treacherous terrain in the mountains. Historian Victor Davis Hanson attributes Xenophon's success to the superior Greek culture-not superior in a racial sense, but superior in the sense of what we today would call shared values, common purpose, and genuine leadership.

Two millennia and four hundred years later, another disaster morphed into rebirth. Malden Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, caught fire and burned to the ground. The smart business decision for the owner would have been to take the nearly $300 million in insurance money and retire; he was in his seventies, after all, and the few textile manufacturers remaining in his area were looking for any excuse to leave New England, not to stay. But not Aaron Feuerstein. Immediately after the fire, he pledged to rebuild the plant that made the popular Polartec fleece. In addition, he said that he would keep all employees on the payroll during the reconstruction. Feuerstein was hailed as a hero and received acclaim far and wide. He took this in stride, saying that he had just done the right thing. It was not the right thing financially; the costs of meeting the payroll and reconstruction exceeded the insurance settlement.

A few years later, Feuerstein found himself in financial straits, and this time the employees returned the favor. They foreswore overtime and settled for lower wages in an effort to keep the plant running. It was a classic example of leadership begetting leadership. In October 2003, Malden Mills emerged from bankruptcy.

Motivation is one of those topics about which much is preached with little result. The reason is simple: Leaders do not motivate-not directly, anyway. They do it indirectly. Motivation is an intrinsic response; it comes from inside and cannot be imposed from the outside. Motivation comes from wanting to do something of one's own free will. If you are free, you can choose to do something. Take the Greeks under Xenophon. They chose him as their general. Why? Because they believed that he had the right combination of skills and talents to lead them into battle and, as circumstances would have it, out of battle, too. The same holds for the employees at Malden Mills. While they had no say in the choice of Feuerstein as CEO, they did have a choice when it came to negotiating for a pay raise. They chose to accept lower wages because they perceived that it was in the company's best interests, as well as their own, to make a short-term sacrifice for a long-term gain.

Both the Greeks and the employees were motivated to do what they did. To turn the situation on its head, Xenophon could have compelled the soldiers to follow him through force-after all, that was the way things were done in the Persian army and in the army of Alexander the Great a century later-but it is doubtful that compulsion of this sort would have led so many men to safety; instead, one by one, they would have drifted away to fend for themselves. Likewise, at Malden Mills, Feuerstein could have insisted on getting a better wage deal, but he did not; the union members accepted lower wages of their own accord, thereby avoiding acrimony and building upon the loyalty Feuerstein had shown them earlier when he rebuilt the burned-out facility.

The short answer is leadership. Leadership is about getting things done the right way; to do that, you need people. To get people to follow you, you need to have them trust you. And if you want them to trust you and do things for you and the organization, they need to be motivated. Motivation is purely and simply a leadership behavior. It stems from wanting to do what is right for people as well as for the organization. If we consider leadership to be an action, motivation, too, is an active process. And if you go deep enough, motivation itself is driven by a series of actions grouped under three headings: energize, encourage and exhort. [the rest ...]

::Saturday, January 29, 2005 7:22:22 AM::
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~ Authentic Roman Textiles?

From the Scotsman:

RESEARCHERS in the ancient Roman town of Pompeii are attempting to revive 2,000-year-old traditions to reproduce imperial cloth used to make togas and uniforms.

The project follows successful production of Roman wine two years ago using methods that would have been employed in vineyards buried by a devastating eruption from Mount Vesuvius in AD79. Historians at the archaeology department in Pompeii are experimenting with wild broom as the base product to make the textiles.

They will be using the writings of ancient Roman scholars such as Pliny and Columella to make the cloth as well as relying on materials discovered within Pompeii in buried workshops.

Annamaria Ciarallo, director of the research laboratory at the department, said: "It will be a fascinating project and we are confident of success. From ancient writings of scholars we know that Romans used broom which grows actively in the area around Vesuvius.

"The aim is to use the same techniques as ancient Roman textile makers to reproduce cloth that would have been used to make togas, uniforms and other items. It is the same textile as would be used to make the toga of an emperor, so it promises to be an interesting project."

::Saturday, January 29, 2005 7:19:15 AM::
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~ Aeneid Audio Review

The Guardian has a piece which reviews, inter alia, an audio version of the Aeneid:

"Come Muse of love, let me rehearse the Kings, the phase of history and the conditions that reigned in antique Latium when first that expedition arrived upon the beaches of Italy. Speak to me then, spirit of song, grim wars I'll tell of and battlefronts and princes courageous unto death." Only the clear, measured cadences of Paul Scofield's voice could persuade me to have another stab at Virgil, thankfully consigned to mothballs since Latin A-level. Maybe we read the wrong bits. I don't remember translating anything as racy as Aeneas's lovelocks dolled up with curling tongs and smarmed with perfumed grease.

With the right reader, nothing can match the pleasure of a talking book, especially one as apparently daunting as this. Unlike Homer's two dimensional superheroes bluffing, blustering and bludgeoning their way through adversity and adventure, Virgil's characters are real. That's why Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Gluck and, more recently, Philip Pullman have raided the Aeneid for inspiration. Faced with impossible choices and constantly battling against the spinners of destiny, Aeneas does as much soul-searching as Hamlet. By the time we reach the pietas v furor climax, his single-combat duel with Turnus for Lavinia and the new kingdom of Rome, we really feel we know him.

Scofield is assisted by an impressive supporting cast, which makes it sound as if this recording is a dramatisation. It isn't. It's a true-to-the-original text reading based on C Day Lewis's translation, which concentrates above all on the poetry. Purists wary of dumbed-down radio adaptations can relax. This has to be the only way for a klutz to appreciate the classics.

::Saturday, January 29, 2005 7:17:57 AM::
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~ Review from Scholia

Ortwin Knorr, Verborgene Kunst: Argumentationsstruktur und Buchaufbau in den Satiren des Horaz. Beiträge zur Altertumswissenschaft Band 15.

::Saturday, January 29, 2005 7:13:06 AM::
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~ JOB: Generalist @ UMass Amherst (one year)

The Department of Classics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst invites applications for a one-year, temporary position at the rank of Lecturer effective Fall 2005. We seek a general classicist with demonstrated success teaching courses in classical literature in translation, courses in classical mythology, and courses in Latin and ancient Greek (a total load of 3-2). A Ph.D. is required. The successful candidate will be expected to participate in the department's mentoring program for its MAT students. Please send cover letter, curriculum vitae, and dossier to Prof. Marios Philippides, Department of Classics, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003. Phone: 413-545-3142. Deadline for receipt of applications is March 21, 2005. The University of Massachusetts Amherst is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer, and encourages applications from women and minorities.

... seen on AegeaNet

::Saturday, January 29, 2005 7:10:54 AM::
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~ Hollyrome

The Financial Times has a huge article on Hollywood's portrayal of ancient Rome, past and present (that will make sense when you read the article):

When the film director Ridley Scott was making Gladiator, he hired Kathleen Coleman, head of classics at Harvard, as the film’s official historical consultant. During the production her advice was ignored and, eventually, “deeply disillusioned by the final product, which makes virtually no attempt to represent an authentic Roman past” (as she put it on a website for classicists), she asked for her name to be taken off the credits.

Coleman was appalled by Hollywood methods. One message from the production office said: “Kathy, we need to get a piece of evidence which proves that women gladiators had sharpened razor blades attached to their nipples. Could you have it by lunchtime?”

In a recent book about Gladiator, she wrote an essay called “The Pedant Goes to Hollywood”, in which she noted that “scholars are, of course, notorious for being obsessed with detail - but detail is the repository of authenticity.”

Gladiator, released in 2000, grossed $457m worldwide and created a spectacular revival in the Roman epic genre - one that had been around since the beginning of cinema. The first filmed version of Ben-Hur was shot at a New York beach in 1907. Like most early Roman epics, it drew its story and look from the neo-classical movement: novels and plays, and paintings by the likes of Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

In his book The Phantom Empire, Geoffrey O’Brien explains how, as the film industry developed, Italian and American directors influenced each other to create what became the standard, mythical view of the period: “It was,” he writes, “as close as movies got to a cultural lineage, this process of spirals within spirals by which you got the myth (the real, original Italian epics, Cabiria and Quo Vadis and The Fall of Troy, that took America by storm in 1914) and the myth of the myth (the improved and homogenised American epics, Intolerance and Ben-Hur and The Queen of Sheba, which in turn found their way back to Italian screens) and then, beyond computing, the myths of the myths of the myths, as each photographed the others’ photographs.”

Across the genre, down the decades, the look for temples, togas and centurions became standardised. In the late 1950s, cheap “peplums” (a derisive term from the Latin for a ruffle attached to the waist of a tunic) cheerfully recycled the same sets, props and actors in film after film, sometimes even using the same shots. But the epics overreached themselves - and were all but killed off in the early 1960s, by the excesses of Cleopatra and The Fall of the Roman Empire (whose Forum, built outside Madrid, was four times the size of the original in Rome).

Gladiator’s success changed all that, and now it feels as if the epics have never been away - though the failure of Troy, and the potentially larger failure of Alexander, may produce another climate change soon. For the moment, though, they and all other recent film representations of antiquity stand in Ridley Scott’s shadow. Yet, as Coleman’s anger reveals, the most interesting aspect of Gladiator may prove to be - when it is itself ancient history - the dispute surrounding its lack of historical authenticity.

Scott is a brilliant visual stylist, and his film is a masterpiece, but he played fast and loose with history, trumping previous versions of the tale by wielding myths-of-myths-of-myths with much the same panache as his gladiator hero Maximus used a sword. The key sources were not ancient Roman texts but more modern fantasies. He first had the idea for the film when he saw a picture painted in 1872 by the French artist Jean-Leon Gerome. The picture, “Pollice Verso” (Thumbs Down), shows a gladiator in the arena standing with his foot on the throat of a rival as the crowd urges him to kill. For his story, Scott drew heavily on The Fall of The Roman Empire, Spartacus and Ben-Hur. Most controversially, for the scene in which his tyrannical emperor Commodus enters Rome, Scott used a shot-for-shot pastiche of Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi epic Triumph of the Will. When critics accused Scott of flirting with fascistic imagery himself, he responded that the Nazis had copied the Romans, “so you’ve got it the wrong way round”.

His cyber-generated Rome was also mostly pastiche, assembled from architectural photographs of neo-classical buildings in London, Maltese churches, a Napoleonic-era fort and other sources. When he was told that ancient Romans probably never had pavement cafes, Scott filmed a cafe scene anyway and declared: “This is the first coffee bar in Roman history.” In his commentary to the DVD of the film, he took issue even with the historical experts who had supported his film, the ones who said Gladiator had taken a few liberties but generally looked pretty good. “I’d say, ‘How do you know? You weren’t there.’ What we do is jump back in time into our own imaginations, and that is the most important thing to do. Historians say, ‘I’m not sure that they did that.’ And we say, ‘Well, they bloody well do now.’”

Close your eyes and picture ancient Rome. What do you see? Eagles, gladiators and white togas, no doubt. Hillsides covered with classical, ivory-coloured temples too, probably. Straight lines. Huge crowds. Forests of gleaming white marble columns and statues. A place glowing with what Olivier in Spartacus called “the might, the majesty, the terror of Rome”.

That’s the classic Hollywood view. Rome the pale, the pristine, the venerable is an image as old as film itself. And because we get our view of Rome primarily from the movies, the myth lies at the core of our sense of antiquity, of our sense of history, perhaps even of ourselves.

But what if it’s all completely wrong? At modern Rome’s fabled Cinecitta studios, the BBC and American TV giant HBO have joined forces to shoot an epic $100m television drama series that aims to topple the Hollywood image and set a new vision in its place.

Simply called Rome, the painstakingly researched show is shaping up as a vast, operatic, Grand Guignol drama. Its epic story will weave the lives of two ordinary Roman foot soldiers with historical celebrities such as Julius Caesar and Pompey in the last years of the Roman Republic. The show’s relatively unknown British stars - Kevin McKidd, Ciaran Hinds and Polly Walker - are likely to become household names.

In keeping with ancient Hollywood traditions, Rome will feature intrigue, spectacle and casual brutality. In a radical break with Hollywood traditions, though, it will also be jammed with cliche-busting surprises. There’ll be much more sex and paganism than we’re used to. We’ll see Julius Caesar as he really looked during his ceremonial triumphs (painted head to toe in Jupiter’s colour, red) and Cleopatra will not be a vamp or demi-goddess, but as Cicero saw her - a dinner-party bore.

HBO is putting up most of the money. The first 12 episodes are due to air late this year, and if all goes well a further four seasons are planned. So far, though, the show’s most spectacular feature is its jaw-dropping set, reckoned to be the biggest and most expensive ever built for television. On the backlot at Cinecitta, where Ben-Hur’s chariot race was filmed and where 500 slaves once dragged Liz Taylor into town atop a giant sphinx for Cleopatra, a spectacular new version of the ancient city has been built of steel and fibreglass. There’s a full-scale replica of the Forum, a warren of working-class streets, markets, villas and gardens.

It looks tremendous, but also weird, because this Rome is grubby rather than grandiose. Its temples don’t shimmer but are dirty and multicoloured. The set is smoky and covered with Latin graffiti, much of it obscene. On street corners there are candle-strewn shrines and drawings of giant penises. In one street there’s a typical Roman toilet: a latrine with planks with holes where men and women sit side by side and use the same fetid sponge as toilet paper. Grass grows between the flagstones on the Via Sacra. There’s mud everywhere.

Welcome to the new, realist, “authentic” Rome: feral, vivid, jumbled, irregular. “Third world Rome”, the show’s executives call it - a bracing, provocative antidote to a century of “Hollyrome”. [more]

::Saturday, January 29, 2005 7:08:18 AM::
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~ More from Tricca

The Athens News Agency has a few more details about that recent discovery of a sanctuary of Hermes at Tricca (actually, the details are about what else has been found):

Archaeological remnants and pottery, believed to be from the ancient city of Trikke (or Tricca), were uncovered Wednesday in a quarter of the town of Trikala, Thessaly prefecture -- which stands approximately on the site of the ancient city -- during digging on a private land plot for the construction of a building. Trikke, also known as Tricca or Trikka, was an important numismatic center of the ancient world, and is also believed to be the site where the cult of Asclepius, the mythological god of healing and medicine and son of the god Apollo and Coronis, originated. Trikke is the site of the oldest asklepieion -- sanctuary devoted to Asclepius -- while primary centres of worship were also located in Epidaurus, Corinthia, Cos and Pergamon. The finds included copper coins, shards of pottery and portions of statuettes dating from the Hellenistic and Roman periods, clay votive tablets with symbols and faces carved in relief identifying with the god Hermes. According to archaeologists, the ensuing archaeological excavations on the land plot have so far unearthed a section of a sanctuary of ancient Trikke dedicated to the worship of Hermes, the first such sanctuary to be uncovered in western Thessaly. Also unearthed were sections of the sanctuary's walls, which are made of large plinths of the local green-hued sandstone rock.

::Saturday, January 29, 2005 7:01:17 AM::
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~ Eagles' Fight Song in Latin

From the Philly Inquirer comes the first bit of Superbowl-related-ClassCon:

"Volate, Aquilae, volate!"

If these were less modern times, that might be the refrain heard most often in Philadelphia these days.

In Latin, it means "Fly, Eagles, fly" - you know the song.

And a sixth-grade Latin class at Masterman Middle/High School near 17th and Spring Garden Streets - one of the Philadelphia School District's prestigious academic magnet schools - has embraced that translation in recent weeks.

It started when the student council held a school spirit day two weeks ago, and students wore Eagles garb. The 33 students in Helen Lamont's class decided to do their part by making Latin signs with the song name.

Now, they know the whole song in Latin, and they can sing it, too.

"Can we get tickets to the Super Bowl?" asked Chris Wood, 12. He's ready for a halftime performance.

Lamont, who has taught in the district since 1972, said the translation was loose. The class left out a few words and made a couple of tweaks to keep the rhythm of the song, she said.

The effort actually turned into a worthwhile lesson, she said, noting that she tied it in with classical mythology.

"Which Roman god is watching out for the Philadelphia Eagles?" Lamont asked her class.

Jupiter, students answered correctly. An eagle is Jupiter's symbol.

The class also had to search out the Latin word for touchdown and finally found it - dectractum - in a book on Latin for all occasions, she said.

"Instead of just conjugating the verb, or taking a test on mythology, to be able to have a good time is worth a lot," she said.

Lamont likes the Eagles but has followed baseball a bit more closely. Her brother, Gene, has coached and managed major-league baseball teams. Now, he is about to begin a job as manager of the Phillies' Triple-A farm team at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

All but a handful of students in the class are diehard Eagles watchers. And even those who aren't caught the spirit.

"I don't really know anything about football," said Naomi Carter, 11, although she sported a Terrell Owens jersey.

Taylor Bright, 11, who said her mother is a big Eagles fan, pretty much lives football from the time she gets up each day.

"Our alarm clock in the morning is WIP-610," she said, referring to the sports radio station.

Eagles Fight Song

Official Song

Fly, Eagles, fly, on the road to victory.

Fight, Eagles, fight, score a touchdown 1-2-3.

Hit 'em low.

Hit 'em high.

And we'll watch our Eagles fly.

Fly, Eagles, fly, on the road to victory.


SOURCE: Philadelphia Eagles.

In Latin

Volate, Aquilae, volate

In via ad victoriam

Pugnate, Aquilae, pugnate

Dectractum unum, duo, tres

Pulsate, pulsate

Spectate volantes

Volate, Aquilae, volate

In via ad victoriam

Aquilae, Aquilae!!!

Loosely translated by Helen Lamont and her sixth-grade class

To listen to the "Fly EaglesFly" being sung in Latin, go to .

::Saturday, January 29, 2005 6:59:01 AM::
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~ AWOTV: On TV Today

... nothing of interest

::Saturday, January 29, 2005 6:56:23 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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