A Night out with the Romans

cover1On a Monday evening, August 1st 1887. 

The hot ticket is a Roman Pageant being put on by THE ORDER OF CINCINNATUS in Cincinnati, Ohio.   You stand by the window while your wife gets ready.  You kill a little time with a smoke, and that is when you hear the horses pulling up to the front door.   You send the parlor maid to hurry ‘the dear’ along.  You tighten your white tie, make sure there is no dust on your shoes and tuck at your embroidered silk waist coat.  You nub out your cigar and head to the marbled hall to wait for Eloise so that she can make her ‘grand entrance.’   At the bottom of the stairs, the front parlor maid coughs politely and points to the second floor at the top of the stairs.  Eloise sweeps down the steps, her feet barely touching the steps, she “floats”…yes “floats” down the steps.  There is something about her.  You can’t quite put your finger on it…wait…it’s her hair.  She has turned her curls into a swept back and tightly wound bun in the back of her neck.  She is wearing a wreath of flowers.  She is a Greek maiden from a Grecian Urn.  She is a nymph, a shepherd girl of a Roman Tableau.  “Exquisite,” you say.  “Helen of Troy.”  She blushes slightly, and the both of you step lively to the carriage at the bottom of the steps.

***

This is a show programme for a pageant held in Cincinnati back in the late 1880s (precisely 1887).   Pageants were held in my father’s youth, and they are still held today.   Your church may have held one.  A pageant has everything…music, cast hundreds, lots of armor and uniforms, animals (name it…lions, camels, bears), and dynamic scenery.  I can imagine ticket holders felt them selves slightly ‘decadent’ as they stepped out of their carriages to attend this event at:  ON THE CAMPUS, FOOT OF BANK STREET.    If anyone from Cincinnati has any idea where this may have been located in 1887 please let me know.  I imagine the pageant was grand entertainment, an instructional tool, and a way to bring attention and business to Cincinnati (Named after the great Roman General Cincinnatius – who took dictatorial powers, repelled the enemy, and returned to his farm.  It should be noted that Cincinnatius holds a certain sway for Americans as George Washington emulated the ancient general in giving up his commission and returning to Mount Vernon.  What’s more Washington has endeared himself to American History by turning his back and refusing to take part – thus stopping — a proposed coup made by Colonial Army Officers who had not been paid).

roman%20hadrian%20pageantIf your looking for an example of a pageant, just YouTube it.  You more than likely will come up with quite a few religious pageants that look like a live production of THE PASSION OF CHRIST.  One time I found a Syrian production (an excellent rock musical) of Queen Zenobia.

I can’t help to think the 1887 Cincinnati production was titillating, imaginative, over the top, and probably overacted.  You know what…it would have been fun to see.  The only thing I am a little confused about is how ROME vnder (sic) NERO was chosen for a subject and how it could have possibly reflected good Republican values.

Note* There’s actually an ad in the programme selling pants for $3.00.

The Ancient Library of Alexandria

What history conceals, fiction reveals.

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This blog site will present five pieces of fiction on this ancient marvel.  The first author is Alex Gough of southwest England who has kindly consented to produce a piece of original fiction.

The title of his work:  The Cure.

What secrets were whispered and what lives  spent in the pursuit of knowledge inside the walls of an ancient testament to man’s enquiring mind?

The Ancient Library of Alexandria is certainly one of the most popular subjects when it comes to the ancient world.  This databank of the ancient world, scrolls on every subject were catalogued and made available for research.   In that time, knowledge traveled by sea.  Ships carrying books sailing into port had them confiscated, copied and returned.  Dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts, this center of research flourished under the Ptolemaic dynasty until a fire that wiped out the contents.    What secrets were lost?

In two weeks, join us here for a tale of another world…you may smell burning paper in the air.

Ancient Rome Refocused is accepting fiction, 2000 words or less, about a protagonist’s life affected by the burning of the Library. Contact Rob Cain at rob@ancientromerefocused.org

Name that Classical Connection (10)

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It’s been a long time since we played NAME THAT CLASSICAL CONNECTION.    This is number 10 in the series.

I ran across this cartoon in a national magazine.  The Bull has the following on his button: “Ask me about mazes.”  This is a two part question.

What is the Greek Myth?

What U.S. national magazine do you think that the readers may actually know the joke?  Do you think the readership of the National Enquirer would get it?  Those in other countries, what publication in your country would you think that this cartoon would have the highest recognition?  

Am I being elitist?  Discuss.

Why I like M. Night Shyamalan

Lady1I want a bit of the unexplainable in my life.  I want mythos and story to enter my world.  Don’t get me wrong, I love science, but at one time everything was mythos for it was the only way to understand the world.

I know that people have been dissing M. Night Shyamalan, but I have to admit…I really like his movies.  He tells a tale that makes myth out of things one might not even consider.   One movie called Lady in the Water struck a childhood memory within me.  Have any of us…now think really hard…made up stories about the pool you visited, about the drain below…thinking as if it just might lead to another world.  Think about it…a child does not swim in a pool, but swims in an ocean, THINK REALLY HARD…you know that thought crossed your mind when you your no bigger than your mama’s knee as you held on tight to that Float Toy in that pool.  It was NOT a Float Toy,  you know that, it was a ship.  I have a strong memory, of holding onto a floating swim board and imagining ocean waves coming across the bow of my tiny ‘ship.’  I remember a man watching me, his fat belly, his unseeing eyes ‘eyeing’ me with contempt.  This is what he said to me before turning away, “…are you insane, boy?”

The world of imagination was lost to him.  He had moved on, and there was no room in his world for even a boy (which I was at the time) to dream.

That is why I love this clip from Roman Holiday.   Watch.

Tell me…weren’t you just, just for a moment swept away by a single thought that THE MOUTH OF TRUTH, actually, and truly, bit his hand off?

And if it was true, what a wonderful world that would be!

I come back to this clip every few years.  It always makes me jump.  I want the world to be made of myths.  That is why I READ, that is why I WRITE, my own attempts of novelizations of dream-like worlds in that ancient world.

That is why I like  M. Night Shyamalan’s movies, and I always will.  This director is not of this epoch.  The ancients would have loved him, and though he might not be Homer…he is Shyamalan.  His tales make me jump in the present, and would have made me jump in those ancient times…by the campfire, as the ARGO was moored and waiting…to sweep out into the deep blue sea, under that ancient moon.

Poseidon’s knife

Found this knife on Ebay.  I could not resist it.  I really have no use for a knife.  It was as if I was prisoner of a siren’s call.   

The blade

The blade

 

The handle

The handle

Quote

Something I found by Francis Bacon:

“Antiquities are…remnants of history which have casually escaped the shipwreck of time.”

What did not escape?   That’s something I think about once in a while.  That…and death…and aliens…and what could have been.

For future archaeologists

untitledIf your looking to train your kid to be a future archaeologist, Target provides just the thing to get Mary or Billy started.  For a dollar you get a brush and pick to dig your way into an ‘honest-to-goodness’ pyramid.  There is even a prize included.  Can you ask for more?

(For non-U.S. Citizens Target is a bargain store that offers anything you can name for reduced prizes.)

Nothing new under the sun

Rome invaded by the BarbariansThe more I read about the past, the more I feel a creepy feeling go up my spine about the present.  A recent article titled:  Paid not to kill in D.C. accounts the efforts of activists supporting a program where offenders are paid up to a $1000 a month not to commit another gun crime.   Why am I reminded of Ancient Rome where barbarians were ‘paid off’ to go away.  This may seem like a good idea,  and for a while it may work, but it will inevitably fail.  Those receiving money for not to ‘burn and pillage’ always come back for more.  Please google Alaric.

Why is it we NEVER learn?

It didn’t work with the Vikings — different time period, but still relevant.

Why after all is said and done, this ‘progressive’ program seems like a state-financed protection racket?

Because…it is.

Something I ran across in the April 10th, 2016 New York Times.  

Article:  What I learned Tickling Apes by Frans  De Waal.   

The term anthropomorphism which means “human Form,” comes from the Greek philosopher Xenophanes, who protested in the fifth century B.C. against Homer’s poetry because it described the gods as though they looked human.  Xenophanes mocked this assumption , reported saying that if horses had hands they would “draw their gods like horses.” 

Real Men…Dance!

31The Pyrrhic Dance was a war dance originated in Crete and traced to Sparta.  Five year-old boys were trained for it, and it was a chief part of the Festival of Gymnopoedia.  It was performed in Athens during the Panathenai  Festival celebrating Athena.  In Roman Imperial times the Pyrrhic dance was a dramatic ballet on various subjects.  One can imagine the sound of armor, flutes and the slapping of feet on marble, with shouts to the gods.  It was a uniformed display of martial prowess with weapons and shields which not doubt fascinated the Romans.

Does this kind of thing go on today?  No way…utter nonsenseExcept, I was in Germany and a company of New Zealand troops decided to honor the allied soldiers gathered in the training field.  The New Zealanders got into a formation, each soldier made a posture of defiance, shouted, grimaced, and stuck their tongues out in fierce expressions.  As the Moiri language echoed above, feet stomped the ground, and without understanding the words,  I had the overall impression that threats were being released like weapons and there was much appealing to the Gods for the destruction for anyone that opposed them.  After it was over, I remember saying to the British Sergeant Major, “Now…I’ve seen everything.”    He looked at me over his shoulder and said, “Hell, I saw that at the last football game.”

Called the Haka, it is a traditional war dance.  Originally, a way of intimating opponents, it is now used to honor visitors, guests, and in some cases ‘the dead.’  Watch the video, I dare you not to cry.  I am not claiming that there is any direct line between the Pyrrhic Dance and the Haku.  All I am saying is…Real Men Dance.