The Actium Spin

 

IN MY OPINION ONE OF THE BEST  PAINTINGS OF ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA:  Titled: Antony and Cleopatra (1883) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema depicting Antony's meeting with Cleopatra in 41 BC.

IN MY OPINION ONE OF THE BEST PAINTINGS OF ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA: Titled: Antony and Cleopatra (1883) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema depicting Antony’s meeting with Cleopatra in 41 BC.

The Actium Spin

CALL THE ANCIENT ROME REFOCUSED Hotline:  If you read the Actium Spin and have an opinion call:  

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Author’s notes:

I am hiring myself out to the Antonians that fought for control of the Roman world.  I am putting forward a hypothesis that Cleopatra and Antony could have won the war if they had just listened to me (what ego, right?).   Yes, it was a military engagement, no question, but it was also a communications war. In the military ‘perception is reality’ and this conflict was no different.

* Before you read this paper put away your 21st century mores. The premise of this paper is to suggest ways that Marc Antony could have swayed Roman Public Opinion to his cause. Fair play is not of this century, the Rules of War have one word – simple and direct: WIN.   Put away your religion that guides your life – we are talking about a PAGAN WORLD.

This paper explore steps that Antony could have used to turn public opinion in his favor.

The title of the paper is called: The Actium Spin.

Yes, I know. I am working with the benefit of hindsight

Let’s start with the context of the situation.

‘Context’ is a noun meaning: The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

CONTEXT: Rome was on the rise. There was a change going on. There was a shift from Hellenic power, brought into place by the remnants of Alexander the Great, and challenged by the rise of an ‘unknown’ city-state called Rome. The power of Cleopatra was left over from the establishment of a Macedonian General Ptolemy Soter and his family’s 300 year reign over Egypt.   Egypt had gown weak; Rome had grown strong and was eating up kingdoms as it moved out across the known world. Rome became stronger as it became flushed with money and slaves, and Egypt was attractive for it had a commodity that was equal to the power of oil in the modern world: FOOD!   Rome could not govern itself. The Republic is shaky, and the strong (in the form of generals with ‘personal’ armies), fought for control of the state. Rome suffers a civil war. At this point of time there are two contenders to control the world: Marc Antony (friend of Caesar) and Octavian (adopted son of Caesar and later to be known as Augustus). Marc Antony is in Egypt and Octavian is in Rome.

O.K. We have the context. So, let’s get started.   After being transported back I have lived in two places in the ancient world, Rome and Alexandria. I have gained a position on Antony’s staff. The following is my letter.

Recommendations to his imperial highness Marc Antony, ancestor of Hercules:

From Rob Cain, Strategoi.

  1. Establish a permanent presence in Rome.

The center of the world is Rome. You know that. I know that. That is what most people believe, at least the important people. You need allies, not just the eastern satraps and kings, but allies in the senate. At current count there are approximately 300 senators on your side, but this is not enough and you are putting them in an impossible situation. They are currently defending a ghost. Because you are not there to defend yourself, and your allies cannot get from you the support that they need to continue to defend you. What kind of support?   When a debate takes place on the Senate floor, we need YOU THERE to walk over to the ‘boy with just a name’ (I refer to Octavian) and pop him one in the nose. Even if just you stood up in the Senate at any insult or lie, it would send a clear message that you will not tolerate the slander that takes place. Every party in Rome an Antony supporter is laughed down and shoved and ridiculed. The party circuit in Rome is just as important as the Senate, it is just as important what the wheat vendor says to the butcher on festival day.  You need people at these ‘get-togethers’ to drink and give their opinions.

Establish a permanent presence in Rome. Yes, yes, I know. You cannot be without your true love.   I give you that. However, six months out of the year at your Roman villa will be enough to quell the feasting that is taking place on your ghost. You are being served for dinner every night. You need to be here to look them in the eye. You are feared, but you are only feared when they see that massive neck of yours. Octavian hates you. More importantly, he fears you. However to fear a man in Egypt is different than to fear a man in Rome.

  1. Raise Caesarian in Rome.

Bring your adopted son to Rome. Put him in a toga. Show him off at gymnasium. Make him lift a few weights and take a swing at a gladiator or two. Slap him on the shoulder, and introduce him around. Once the senators see that he has Caesar’s eyes, they will realize who or what he is. Show who the REAL son of Caesar is. It is certainly not a ‘sickly’ boy that looks faint at the sight of battle (especially when Agrippa isn’t around), but a boy raised by Julius Caesar’s ‘Master of Horse’ and Step-father. Get some of those pretty senatorial daughters take him out for a night or two. Get the boy drunk. Let him puke and chase a few ‘dancers’ about the hall. Show Rome that you intend to raise him as a true Roman. What’s more in conversation, especially with Cicero, say something like: “I had to get him away from his mother’s influence.” Cicero will LOVE that.

  1. CONTROL THE OMENS.

Omens are what convince those that are still on the fence. As rational men, we have to control the omens so they don’t get out of hand. There are omens here in Rome and about the ‘mare nostrum’ all the time. I would not be a good advisor if I didn’t tell you the truth.

In the city of Alba, a statue of you was seen sweating. The slaves wiped it over and over but the water streamed down its forehead.

The people said, “See, Antony knows that Octavian is coming for him.”

In Athens, a statue of Dionysus fell from its pedestal crashing below.  You have been hailed as the new Dionysus. Don’t deny it! That name has been heard over here, even in Rome. The statue fell on a new theater, and some piss-offed actors stood over the rubble shouting: “The fall of Antony!”   Some Antonian’s pounded them with fruit, but the damage was done. The statue was so large that it had to remain right where it was even during a performance of a play by Plautus. A character in the play was some lad, a lovesick school boy that could not get the attentions of the local prostitute. I can’t keep this from you. The fallen statue seemed to convince the audience that the lover boy was you. I don’t have to tell you what the audience thought the identity of the prostitute to be.

Give the word and I’ll have black crows sitting on top of Octavian’s roof within the week.

Give the word and I’ll pay some out of work actor to paint himself white and walk about outside Octavian’s villa as Caesar’s ghost. We can have him cry and wail as if disappointed with his adopted son.

“Woe is me! Woe to Rome. I have adopted a boy with vinegar blood! Woe to those who take up his cause.”  Said with enough conviction, and with enough gusto the story will be up and down the hills of Rome before daylight. The gossip mill of Rome works at blinding speed.

I can even have that broken statue of Dionysus in Rome in just a few months. With the right rope and tackle we can drop it into Octavian’s atrium. Can you see the look on his face? Imagine the horror as it takes out his family fountain and your face stares at him as slaves rush about to dry him off. It will be the talk of Rome!

Of course, of course we need an augur present. I can buy a few. Why should the Octavians have all the luck? Omens are never effective unless an argur can put his copper penny into the pot. “The power of Antony has destroyed the house of Octavian. The Hercules has returned to Rome,” he can wail.

Remember omens are never incorrect, especially with the passage of time. People only forget the ones that turn out wrong.

  1. LEAFLETS, GOSSIP, AND GRAFFITI.

LEAFLETS: This is the easy part. Why are we allowing Octavian have the last word? The people of Rome are looking for direction. “Silence is acceptance.” If Octavian says you are a drunkard, then you are a drunkard if you do not respond. I recommend the following leaflets to be distributed as soon as possible: 1) ON MY DRUNKENESS 2) WHY I AM ROMAN 3) WHY ROMAN WOMEN ARE BETTER THAN ALEXANDRIAN WOMEN (The plebians will love you for that last one). If you don’t want to write on these subjects I have at least three out of work satirists looking for jobs right now.

GOSSIP: I suggest we start the following rumors in Rome. 1) You were seen in Tarentum. 2) You are coming to Rome in six months. 3) You are coming to Rome right now and you are pissed.

GRAFFITTI: We need a Graffiti campaign. As you know many plebians do not read. Cartoon Graffiti is our best bet in reaching this demographic. I suggest the following cartoon images to be scribbled at the racetrack, arenas and public toilets.

1) Octavian in a dress with Agrippa protecting him against a giant penis.

2) Octavian running from a drawing of you dressed as Hercules.

3) Octavian as a catamite (Of course with his dour nature this might make him more popular).

  1. CHANGE YOUR WILL.

I’ve seen it. Everyone has seen it. The Vestal Virgins laugh about it. Are you serious? Do you really want to be buried in Alexandria? NO! Change the will. Tell them you want to be burned, and your ashes spread across the subura. The poor will love that. Tell them to open your house to the public, like Caesar. Turn your fortune into coin and give each man a share. YOU CAN ALWAYS CHANGE IT LATER!

Octavian is going to get his hands on it. If he reads it in the Senate, you will never recover. The Vestals are just women. If Octavian steps through the front door and reaches for the will they will shrink back in horror, but DO NOTHING.   Send me the new will and I will register it at the temple.  Let’s have it read in the Forum before you die. Let’s have the people of Rome see how much you love them? Remember how the mob turned on Brutus when Caesar’s will was read?  

  1. Hire Publius Vergilius Maro.

Virgil is a talented poet living a few doors down from me. You got to get him on board. I know he tends to produce works rather slowly, but that is why we should get him started now. The Patrician, Knight, and Plebian classes love to see their ‘heroes’ in print and sung on a poet’s lips. I suggest the following title: The Atoniad.

  1. Bribe the Plebian Class

The patricians hate the plebians. The plebians hate the patricians. All the plebians want is money, entertainment, and diversion. Their life is hard. Octavian throws them a pittance and they take it. What choice do they have? He is there and you are not. If Octavian decides to invade Egypt, the plebians will flock to his standards. They will dream of booty, and mounds of Alexandrian loot. The world knows how rich the city is and will be.   Before the plebian comes to Alexandria to take your fortune, bring the fortune to Rome.

First, establish a strong presence in Rome.   Become the patron of the plebian on the street. Put money in their pockets by the way of gifts distributed at gladiatorial games that you sponsor.

Purchase businesses within the walls of Rome.

Bring Alexandrian entertainment to the theaters.

Fund a lottery for the plebian where upon winning he is granted a piece of land in the Egyptian basin. Well, if the Greeks can live in Egypt why not Romans?

During the next Saturnalia hold the largest public dinner ever recorded in the history of Rome. Make sure that every cup of wine has printed at the bottom of the cup: In Antony’s nomen.

Go back to Rome and raise three legions. This is very important. Offer greater pay than the Octavian Legions. Camp the Antonian Legions outside the gates of Rome. March these legions up and down the gates of Rome, to let Octavian know that you are too close for comfort.

Find Roman husbands Alexandrian wives.

  1. DECLARE RIGHT NOW THAT YOU ARE A REPUBLICAN.

I know it’s not true.   However, Octavian pretends to be one. Keeping close to the Ptolemy throne makes others wonder about your intentions. Octavian has ambitions, but he would never claim to think himself a god – at least not yet. You are being hailed as the new Dionysus. You claim ancestry from Hercules. Octavian paints you as Egyptian. It is confusing. Get yourself in a toga and walk up and down a few of the streets here in Rome, and get any damn Ptolemaic face-paint off your face. Shake a few hands. Cicero has advised other for years on how to get elected. I KNOW YOU HATE CICERO! The best advice sometimes comes from unexpected places.

  1. QUIT THE GREEK.

How Roman are you?  Decide. You love all things Greek? Rome raised you. Rome made you great. Roman soldiers died for you. Drink Greek wine at home. Only serve Roman wine at your feasts. Keep your windows closed when you parade around in Greek dress.

  1. CEASE PLANS ON THE DONATIONS OF ALEXANRIA.

This is a major public relations disaster. Cease work on it immediately. My men in Alexandria tell me that you intend to give away portions of the world to your children publicly. Don’t you understand the Octavian will use this against you? I am not saying that you should not do it, but do it privately. Instead any lands not conquered you should publicly give TO ROME, and if you decide later for one of your children to rule in the name of Rome…so much the better. Who talked you into this?

  1. DEFENCE IN DEPTH

If Octavian comes to meet you – apply defence in depth. You have the allies, mountains, and deserts to whittle him down. Put your men on boats you might as well hand him a Cannae. Hit him and draw back. Defend forest, river and mountain pass. Burn the crops and draw back.

  1. Instead SEND YOUR ARMY TO ROME.

If Octavian comes to meet you send half your legions to Rome. Do not meet Octavian’s forces. There is a strong possibility due to shared service under Julius Caesar they may refuse to fight each other. So, bypass them. Send runners to tell him where you are going. He shall waver. He shall see that you are not afraid of him, and certainly not the people of Rome.   He shall ignore Alexandria and scamper back to Rome. He shall envision Hannibal and the ravages that took place years before. He may divide his forces and send a quarter-contingent to Alexandria. Cleopatra can defend the city, hide in India, or take to the desert like she did in the civil war with her brother. Octavian will be afraid that you intend to woo the people of Rome. Stay three days in front of him. Every city that you come to that keeps its gates closed – place a wreath on the door and publicly give thanks. Then leave! Do not burn a single vineyard or village. Recruit the countryside into your auxiliary. You are not Hannibal. You are Roman. Send runners to Rome and have them declare to the Senate that you want a triumph for defeating Egypt. Of course, you have not. But you have brought Egypt under Roman influence. Tell them you bring them riches to fill their coffers. In your message tell them you will stay in Rome for the rest of your life (even if it is not true). Tell your men that you have no intention of killing your countrymen.

     10.  COME HOME AND SHUT FULVIA UP.

The problem is that you love two women. That would not be so bad, if one of them was the quiet sort. However, Fulvia is about as ‘queenish’ as your Cleopatra. She has raised legions with her brother and has started a war with Octavian.    Do you realize the public affairs disaster this woman has caused you?   I have news for you, Fulvia and her accomplice Lucius are holed up in the city of Perusia. How can you control the world if you cannot control your own wife?   Did you have anything to do with this? Take a legion or two and batter down the gates of Perusia. Octavian is using this against you. You have to get rid of her. You have to stop her. Every Octavian Soldier that dies in this battle is another Roman family that will despise you. Tell Fulvia to meet you in Athens. When you are together…silence her forever.

I am hearing rumors. Octavian is planning to offer his sister to you in marriage.   She is a nice quiet girl. Would you consider this?  However, if you do this, the augurs are telling me that it would be to your advantage if Octavia meets with a small accident two or three months later. I’m sure Cleopatra would approve.

      11.   KILL AGRIPPA.

Octavian is nothing without Agrippa. Why has this man been allowed to live? There is nothing as irritating as a talented ‘lap-dog.’

12.  Take charge of your own household (Be a man).

You have to choose. Are you descended from Hercules or not? If you are–keep Cleopatra quiet. I KNOW, I KNOW, YOU LOVE HER. Well, what better way to show your love then to give her an intact and united Rome. If you are the new Dionysus than remember this – the TITANS ripped him apart.

Mount Olympus in the hair

Found off the Gaza Strip

Found off the Gaza Strip

 The whole purpose of Ancient Rome Refocused it to talk of those people that are keeping the ‘classical’ traditions alive.  This can be in fiction, art, movies or paintings.  This can be in sculpture as well.  I came across the work of Sabin Howard.  What made me thought of this is a recent find of Apollo off the Gaza Strip.  A naked god pulled from the sea, and I tried to visualize what the ancients must have felt viewing this curly haired god, but lacking context I am unable to give even a good

Sabin Howard's APOLLO

Sabin Howard’s APOLLO

guess.  When I came across Sabin’s work, which has a lot of mythological references, the figures are a lot more sensuous, more real, more in the NOW.  I figure it’s the artist.  Mr. Howard, after all, lives in the 21st century.  His work reflects his experience, his idea of the visual world.  The Gaza Apollo I have little in common with, but Sabin’s mythological characters seem familiar, as if these men and women, hidden under clothes, walk in my world.  The Sabin Howard Apollo is part of my century, more so than the Gaza Apollo, not just in the date it was ‘cast’ but in the imagery (what feels right to my particular eye) and there’s just a little bit of me and you in Sabin’s work.  The bone structure and its flesh seem familiar.  The figures ‘feel’ 21st Century. 

Of course, I just wish I looked that good.

Howard said, “There is nothing more complex than the human body.”  He is right.  A trailer by Mark Forman, seen on Vimeo.com not only reflects this complexity but the complexity of Howard’s art.  A beginning shot of molten metal streams out, and fades into the vein of a sculpted arm.   See the video on http://vimeo.com/49084625.

The world of the classics will never fade as long as there are men and women like Sabin Howard reaching back and ‘casting’ beauty in such stunning detail: such as his work titled Hermes and Aphrodite.  Man will continue to see beauty in the human form when qualities are bronzed and personified in works such as Howard’s Persistence and Stubbornness (See his website for photos).

Take a close look at his work: there is a touch of “Mount Olympus” in just the way the wind blows through the hair of his subjects.

http://www.sabinhoward.com/

Anachronism Markets

Ancient Rome Refocused would like to interview those that are part of the anachronism market.  That means someone who makes things that would sell more likely in Ancient Rome / Greece rather than today.  “Things’ could be taken from the following list:

  • Roman Armor
  • Greek or Roman Tunics
  • Glassware
  • Jewelry
  • Clothes, etc.

Did I forget something? 

I will interview you by Skype and will keep you informed when the show will air.  The segment will be fifteen minutes in length.  You must be able to talk about the research that you conducted in order to make the items.  You must be able to make the listener ‘understand’ how you became interested in manufacturing these items, and what you learned from the experience.  I will share the questions with you in advance.  The show is not ‘live’ and through the editing software Audacity, I will make you look brilliant.  On the show you will be able to provide a link to where the listener can learn more about your company.

It is my belief that your company is keeping the past alive by manufacturing these products.  Do you want to be on the show?

If you are interested, please send an email to:  rob@ancientromerefocused.org.

There is a movie titled BEING HUMAN that has a segment taking place in ancient Rome. In fact is has many segments, traveling across history: Celt (could be prehistoric…not sure), Roman, Medieval, Renaissanceand modern man. All are equally engaging, all funny in their way, and all terrifying as it plays out the human condition. The film did not get great reviews; however, but if you love stories about Ancient Rome catch the second segment in this film.

BEING HUMAN, John Turturro, Robin Williams, 1994The segment is unforgettable. It is played out from the slave’s perspective. Slaves did not write a lot of histories for public consumption, so the only insight into their lives come from masters like Cato (234-149 B.C.) how to properly feed and raise a slave, playwrites that looked upon them with scorn, fun or ridicule as in the play Pseudolus by Plautus.  If your looking for a modern take on Plautus watch the Broadway musical A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM. We may only know of Tiro (the freedman (ex slave?) of Cicero) only because Cicero wrote of Tiro in his letters. There were thousands, literally hundreds of thousands of slaves over the centuries, and their stories are gone.  Many of these ‘eyewitnesses’ were not taught to write, or their stories were not important enough to set down (at least according to the masters).  I am sure there were secretaries and scribes that rose from slavery tried their hand to record something that happened to them only to have it disappear to the ravages of time and the appetite of bugs.  There were exceptions like Terrence, a slave originally from Africa who came to Rome, liberally educated, and wrote six plays.  Through his plays we can peek into the past.

A quote by Terrence somehow seems appropriate for the title of the movie: BEING HUMAN, and our ability to look back at Ancient Rome and…imagine.  “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto“, or “I am a human being, I consider nothing that is human alien to me.”

The Roman segment in BEING HUMAN can’t be more than (20 minutes) in length, but we see the world from the point of view of Hector. He is the slave to an idiot – and a very poor businessman. He follows him around the city, carries his chair, and helps him with his papers. Hector’s life is tied to his master’s house. He sits on the roof and looks at the stars dreaming of the world. He once had a wife and children, somewhere, out there on the horizon, and longs to return to them. In the meantime (in the spirit of Stephen Stills LOVE THE ONE YOUR WITH) Hector has taken up with a beautiful Nubian slave (he must share her with his master) who understands him, and loves him back. The life of a slave is shit and unfortunately tied closely to the life of your master. One day after a business meeting he finds that out that he and his master must commit suicide. It seems Lucinnius signed some papers. A ship when down and he lost the cargo, to pay back investors he promised to commit suicide. There is some political maneuvering and he implicates his slave Hector in the plot. “I would be honored if you would die with me,” says Lucinnius. The look on Robin William’s face tells all. Restraint mixed with a healthy [I shall use a nastier word now but only in its Latin root] “Fut you” The rest of the story is how he survives, and its told in a very believable way.

Saw William’s CENTENNIAL MAN a few days ago, and shed a few tears.  I am not sure if I was crying from the story line or from the loss of such a great actor.

A bit of music in Greek

I couldn’t resist posting this.  I came across this by accident.

Lantern Night at Bryn Mawr College
Mid-November

Traditions help build a feeling of community at Bryn Mawr, a women’s college near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the induction ceremony of Lantern Night has welcomed freshwomen since the late 1880s. The ceremony takes place in the courtyard of the Cloisters, a quadrangle with a pond at the center. The first-year students process into the courtyard, and the sophomores place candlelit lanterns behind each one. Upperclass women sing a hymn in ancient Greek to the goddess of wisdom, Athena, and freshwomen respond in kind. The ceremony in the Cloisters is followed by a step-sing, in which the students of all classes gather together for fellowship and the singing of lighthearted songs outside of Taylor Hall, on the administration building’s steps.

 

This is the song that is sung while the sophomores are running lanterns to the freshmen during Lantern Night at Bryn Mawr College.

Pallas Athena, goddess of learning and strength,
We come to you to worship you, dread goddess.
Bless us we pray; give us wisdom.
Be with us always, Blessed goddess, hear!
Sanctify our lanterns now, to shine forever clearly,
Lighting the way, making bright the dark.

Greek:

Pallas Athena thea,
Mathe mastos kai stenous
Se par he me is iman
Hie rus sou sai soi deine (x2)

Hie rus sou sai soi deine (x4)
Akoue. Akoue.

Makar i ze ai toumen
He min sophian didou
He min syngignou aei
Makarthe a akoue(x2)

Makarthe a akoue(x4) Akoue. Akoue.

Hie rize nyntous lydnous
Aei phanos phanoien
Lamprynontes ten hodan
Melan phanon poiuntes(x2)

Melan phanon poiuntes(x4)
Akoue. Akoue.

Pompeii sucks

 

 

"Kiss me you hunky gladiator, forget living...where is that horse?"

“Kiss me you hunky gladiator, forget living…where is that horse?”

I finally got to see the movie Pompeii with Kiefer Sutherland.  I don’t recommend the film.  I don’t know what it was…I have been thinking about it the last few days, and there were two things that really irritated me – one, Kiefer Sutherland and two, the general ‘pace’ of the movie.

Everything about Sutherland says 21st century. Sutherland played a Roman senator and his overall character was thoroughly dislikeable. Some may say he did his job, but he played the guy as an effete smug little ass, that would perfectly at home on Wall-street or some corporate office.

Kit Harington was the protagonist named Milo. A gladiator nicknamed: ‘The Celt’ is brought to Pompeii to liven up the games. He is one of these guys that is outnumbered and kills everyone in 10 seconds or less, and walks away not even breaking a sweat. You can almost hear him think: “Is that all you got?” He was pretty good.

Spoiler Alert: Plot of movie in six lines or less.

Gladiator is transferred to Pompeii. Wealthy girl comes home to Pompeii to join her parents. FORSHADOWING – rumble…rumble. Senator from Rome pursues pretty girl. She thinks, “Yech. Can’t stand him. Like Gladiator better.” Gladiatorial game. FORESHADOWING – rumble…rumble. Pompeii blows top, everyone runs. Protagonist and antagonist battle it out while Pompeii is destroyed. Bad guy dies. Gladiator and pretty girl escape, horse too slow for two people, “No, you take the horse,” he says. “No, you take the horse,” she says. They kiss. Ash cloud sweeps over them – EVERYONE DIES.

Things I liked about the movie.

1) Great aerial shots of the city.

2) Cool BROMANCE between Milo (hero gladiator) and Atticus (Played mate. Watch this guy in future films; he has a perfect combination of menace and intelligence. It would be interesting to see him cast as the lead.)

3) MOST BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS THAT DESERVED MORE LINES: Carrie Ann-Moss, the actress from MATRIX, and Jared Harris a great British actor from MADMEN. This movie would have been better if the film centered on them. What is it like to see your world and everything you love destroyed?

4) LOVELY TO LOOK AT: Emily Browning!

Things I hated about the movie.

1) Kiefer Sutherland.

2) The movie never took a breath. ACTION, ACTION, ACTION…Let’s take a breath and let the audience see what it is like to live at that time?

3) Everyone had inexhaustible energy, and no one seemed affected by the ash spewing in the air.

4) Pompeii got blown up, fireballs, projectiles, buildings crumbling – I seem to remember many buildings remained intact.

5) Doesn’t every high born patrician girl jump on horse with a Thracian and run away for 30 minutes so that they can have a ‘joy ride.’ “Oh no, he won’t rape or kill me. He is kind for he killed my horse.” She never really said that but the only interaction the two had was the gladiator killing her horse when it went lame. Hey, isn’t that the path to every girl’s heart?

6) MOST BLATANT THEFT: The writer stole a scene from the movie Gladiator. It’s the scene where a myth is recreated in the arena, and the gladiators play the losing side in a recreated myth. Except, they don’t die! In the movie Gladiator Kenneth Crowe’s brilliant leadership changes the outcome, so our hero and his friend Atticus pull off the same stunt. GIVE ME A BREAK! Can we have some originality? They even stole the line (not exact): “I don’t remember it turning out that way.”

7) A Greek Choir (ten guys in golden masks making announcements like a PA system). Yes, I agree there are some weird things in history, but some things just don’t translate very well.

GREEK CHORUS:

“HAIL, GREAT JUPITER! WE ARE RECREATING A SCENE FROM THE MOVIE GLADIATOR. JANET AND LEE BETCHLER, AND MICHAEL JOHNSON SMOKED TOO MUCH WEED AND STOLE A SCENE FROM GLADIATOR THINKING THE AMERICAN PUBLIC IS TOO STUPID TO NOTICE. WOE ONTO THEM, MAY THEIR BOWELS BE EATEN BY HARPIES!”

Common sense item ignored in movie: (This is where you have to figure humans – no matter what time period they live in – would react the same way). When a volcano blows up, may I make the following suggestion: RUN! No one stays to fight it out with the bad guys. The gods are raining fire and projectiles upon the town, but instead Milo the gladiator searches out Corvus (played by Sutherland) to ‘duke’ it out.

Frightening ironic item from 9/11 (an equally disturbing disaster): I saw a documentary, where a videographer was filming around New York after the first plane hit the building. Some idiot supervisor was telling workers to go back into the building. I have met government workers with this ‘dumb ass’ personality. There is a special place in hell for supervisors that tell you to go back into a building that has a jet burning in it. To my understanding, there were people in Pompeii that had the good sense to note the signs and leave town.

I hope there are always people with good sense to leave even with a lame-ass supervisor telling employees to get back to work.

“Ignore the burning plane; get back to your cubicle.” Or “Ignore the volcano spewing ash; get back to the wine press!”

Here are some suggestions for other Pompeii movies and books:

Movie: The Last days of Pompeii, 1935. (Interesting story line, there’s a kid to tug at your heart strings, Christian storyline near the end.)

Book: The last days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (Has nothing to do with the movie. Language is slightly antiquated. This could be the time period and the audience intended for the book, but with all the ‘thee-ing’ and ‘thou-ing’ I wondered if he was trying to give the impression of a translated dialogue from Latin itself. Written in 1834 so that explains a lot, but if you have trouble with it try reading Ben Hur. This book was written in 1880 and is an easier read.

Book: Ghosts of Vesuvius by Charles R. Pellegrino. One of the best books on Pompeii and assorted other subjects. Science, history, philosophy, all mixed into a study of disaster. He backs it all up with facts and a side-comparison to the trade towers. This is a must read for the curious. This is one of those books you will be highlighting passages, and circling bits of information.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ghosts-of-vesuvius-charles-r-pellegrino/1110897632?ean=9780060751005

Name that classical connection (9)

UPDATE:  Except for Jesse Walker who gave a strong hint on the answer by pushing us towards a link of a Dr. Who episode no one provided an out and out answer on the classical connection of this new movie.  It is basically  using Theseus and the Minotaur as the basis of this film.  I suspect that the creature inside the maze is more robotic than man/bull, but just the same this movie and the popular book series has gone back to mythology for inspiration.  How did Theseus find his way out of the Labyrinth?  King Minos’ daughter gave him a ball of string.   I am determined to find a good myth for a modern telling.  Anyone have a good suggestion?

—–Original posting…

I have not seen the movie yet, and I think the classical connection is pretty heavy. I know the plot already. Anyone want to fill us in on what the basic plot line is? You know it. I know you do! You don’t need to google it. Just watch the trailer and tell me the classical connection. Even if you are moderately read on classical mythology, the ‘basic’ plot line should be obvious. What myth is this from? Anyone? Anyone?

What would you hear?

doctorwhopompeii_2727005bOh, how I wish I could walk down a street in Ancient Rome.  That my Latin was street worthy, and I could overhear conversations and ask questions of those living their lives.  “Do you know the best place for wine?” I would ask.  “Could you direct me to the nearest philosopher?”  There was a blog called ‘Overheard in New York’ by Michael Malice and S. Morgan Friedman, that documents snippets of conversations by pedestrians in New York City.

What conversations in Rome do you …imagine that you would hear?  Anyone?  Anyone?    I seem to remember one post (hope I got this right)  in the humor blog ‘Overheard in New York’ that seems relevant.

Overheard conversation:

One street tough to another: “What ya readin?”

Answer:  “Plato.”

Make up your own overheard Ancient Roman conversation (2 or three lines) and post here!

 

Doomed to Repeat

doomed to repeat I spent a thoroughly happy morning at Northwestern Hospital waiting for my wife during a medical appointment at a Starbucks on Huron Street downtown Chicago. Of course, I am the ‘Awake’ hot tea, and she is the green tea latte. The Starbucks is in one of the hospital’s waiting room’s at street level, with many tables, great chairs, and customers’ that are mostly doctors, nurses, and people trying to chill out after visiting their ‘loved ones.’ If you’re looking for a place to spread out, this is the place. It is quiet, warm, and has the expanse of a large library without the stacks, and if you go to the second floor and take a short walk to the next building, there is a food court – “get the gyros.”

TO keep me company I had Bill Fawcett’s book DOOMED TO REPEAT. Fawcett has series of books with titles such as HOW TO LOSE THE CIVIL WAR, HOW TO LOSE THE WAR, and HOW TO LOSE A BATTLE.

DOOMED TO REPEAT is compelling in many comparisons he makes with the modern world and the

The opening paragraph starts with a familiar quote:

“Those that cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

He spends most of the book showing how this is true in war, politics and business.

He brings forth a question: If Alexander the Great tried to bring the Afghan tribes under control and his efforts were fruitless, why didn’t the English, Soviets and the American’s learn anything from a repetitive historical cycle of trying to accomplish what Alexander could not? Why do nations continue to think that they can do better? In simpler terms if the English got their asses kicked, if the Soviets got their asses kicked, then for god sakes why did the Americans think they could overcome generations of tribalism?

The book explores each attempt, and goes on to look at the Romans and modern society in regards to employment and taxes.

“Today, American workers are not competing with slaves, but they too see their jobs being offshored…”

There are many ‘warnings’ that creep up in the book that can make you uncomfortable, and wonder are we heading down the same road as Rome in the ‘destruction of the middle class.’

I have long thought the real weakness of American society does not come in from a lack of military or economic prowess, but our inability to see beyond 4 to 8 years in our planning for the future. I do not believe the ‘Chinese’ have this problem, but WE do.

As thought provoking this book was, my wife joins me after her appointment. She is well. That is the best news so far. I hope the future is flexible enough that we can change course. That is the attraction of the future. It’s unpredictability. Things change, sometimes, people change. Sometimes a slight miscalculation, a slight thing in the course of man changes the inevitable. Like a typhoon (‘divine wind’) when a Mongol Navy heads for your shores (check Japanese history). Like the V-12, piston aero engine, of 27-litre (1,650 cu in) capacity. Rolls-Royce designed and built the engine which was initially known as the PV-12: the PV-12 became known as the Merlin and true to its name was placed in the Spitfires that defended England against invasion. Like those ‘darn’ Americans during the Battle of Midway that broke the Japanese code (and managed to keep it secret) to ambush with dive bombers the four Japanese aircraft carriers—Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu, all part of the six-carrier force that had attacked Pearl Harbor just six months earlier.

It’s fine to depend on a typhoon, on technology and stealth, but at the moment of reading this book, I want those in the NOW and the FUTURE to lay the foundation of our “pursuit of happiness” for those who come after me.

Footnote * I’m proud to say my brother Jeff was at Glenview Naval Air Station and met Ensign George Gay the lone survivor of a devastator squadron who was shot down by the Japanese. While floating in the sea he witnessed the battle about him and the sinking of the Japanese aircraft carriers. I bring this up for one reason, and one reason only: you may not know it, but history surrounds you.

 

Zenobia-the-musical-2Title – “It’s Good to be Queen.” Rob Cain interviews Lorrisa Julianus and Craig Engel.

Zenobia, is an original musical written by Lorrisa and composed by Angela Salvaggione. It premiered at the Bolingbrook Performing Arts Center, and was directed by Craig.

The subject is the 3rd century queen who defied Rome and tried to carve out an Empire. Want to know more?


MP3 File

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