The Attraction of 47 BCE

I have a great wife.  She sees me eye a book at our local Barnes and Noble, and she is checking on her iphone to have it delivered in a few days.  I just opened up a book titled Caesar by Adrian Goldsworthy. 

I have been thinking about this for a long time.  Why does it seem that in the Hollywood genre there have been many, many remakes of Julius Caesar, and the Marc Antony and Cleopatra love affair?  The end of the Republic seems to be the favorite time for plays, film, and paintings.   Each and every new generation – is treated to another ‘telling’ of the great love affair, told and retold in glorious TECHNICOLOR.

By the way, if you can find a still usable print of Theda Bara’s (the IT girl of the 20s…’IT’ meaning sex appeal) Cleopatra silent film you might be in for a bit of money.   There doesn’t seem to be any surviving print at this time – except for a few stills.   OK film buffs, dive into those garage sales and see what you can find.  The first one to find an intact print…let me know or sell it on ebay. 

There are still rumors of a remake of Cleopatra with Angelina Jolie or Carmen Zeta Jones.  Except I think these rumors have settled down of late.

cleo1Why Cleopatra?  Sex appeal, doomed love, a reach for empire – I get it.  However,  I am suspicious there are other times of Roman history that could provide us with a rousing tale.  There certainly has to be another story – of love and glory – out there to capture our imagination?

That is why I bow to an actress named Lorrisa Julianus out of Chicago, Illinois who produced, wrote the music and starred in a musical about the Palmyra Queen Zenobia.   She is a member of this Facebook group by the way.   SALVE JULIANUS.  Sorry…I just had to say it.

I am willing to be corrected on my premise.  Yes, there is an entire film history based on the Christian genre and the Roman World.  Yes, and there are various productions along pagan lines, the more recent Agora starring Rachel Weisz (of course this is Roman Egypt in the time of the rise of Christianity).     Eagle of the Ninth had a more pagan viewpoint (starring everybody’s favorite hunk Channing Tatum).  However, I still say there is a very strong attraction to 47 BCE by creative artists.  Tell me that I am wrong.  Give me some examples of movies and plays that have explored the rich and intricate pattern of ancient Rome, other than circa 47 BCE (give or take a 100 years).     I know the vast film history of Greek Myth – I know that well…growing up in the sixties Channel 32 played a continuous run of Italian Greek Myths all dubbed in English.  I read mythology religiously as a boy.  I still do.   I even remember a film on Romulus and Remus – in Italian…with subtitles.

Now, excuse me while I open up another book.  Nancy caught me eyeing another book:  The Poison King by Adrienne Mayor.  I shall jump into exploring the time of Mithradates.  Drat.  I’m still in that 100 years…give or take.


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