Title — "Nothing New Under the Sun. Get Over it." The episode starts out with a modern version of the Aeneid. The author Natalie Haynes is interviewed by Rob Cain on her new book "The Ancient Guide to Modern Life." The show concludes with a plug for the hot new podcast TWILIGHT HISTORIES by Jordan Harbour. The episode titled: ROME INDUSTRIAL features a Rome that has not fallen.

MP3 File

Episode 10 to be posted soon

Natalie Haynes, author of the book THE ANCIENT GUIDE TO MODERN LIFE.

Episode 10 – “Nothing New Under the Sun.  Get Over it” will be posted on Ancient Rome Refocused, itunes and Hipcast soon.  Join a retelling of the Aeneid in a modern vein, similar to a modern ‘chicklit.’  Listen to a fascinating interview with Natalie Haynes the author of “The Ancient Guide to Modern Life.”    Ms. Haynes a former classics professor, comedian, and currently a TV commentator and author has written a book that takes us back to ancient times and show us that life is not too much different than what is going on today.  The show concludes with a plug for the TWILIGHT HISTORIES podcast with Jordan Harbour.  The episode: ROME INDUSTRIAL takes us to a Rome that never falls, and begins to look to the stars.

Name the Classical Connection (3)

This is a positive motivational poster that has been viewed online 50 million times and translated into 12 languages.  This is a mission statement of a company named Holstee out of Brooklyn, New York.   There is a classical connection here…anyone?

Clue: Two Latin words that sum it up.


 Antonio Rodrigues gave the correct answer of CARPE DIEM. [“SEIZE THE DAY”]

Partial credit to Vicky Shecter on this one.   

Music from the Gods.

I am told this is actually a sound speaker.  Somehow to have music coming from it seems fitting. 

A Darker Pygmalion

Galatea becomes alive. The movie Metropolis is a must see.

It is a darker version of Pygmalion.  The 1927 movie Metropolis by Lang is a must see.  Yes…there’s a lot of over acting (its a silent film after all…with no sound, expression is one of the best ways to get your point across) and it was done WAY before before computer animated graphics (fantastic set drawings and backdrops), but it is engrossing and scary.   My suggestion is to watch it at night, in the dark, and with NO commercials.  Let the film roll…over you.   


Name the Classical Connection (2)

Name the connection to the classics and get on the Ancient Rome Refocused Honor Roll.

I was surprized on the response on the last one.  This one ‘might’ be just a little harder.  The two guys who won the last one need to sit this one out.  I will admit the connection is tenuous at best, and there is a much better example that can be used.    I should say…an ‘easier’ one.  If you think you have it please leave a reply.  If you can make a case to a myth that I did not think of…I will give you points just the same. 

The winner is…Vicky Alvear Shecter.
She came in six minutes after I posted it.  Of course the answer is Pygmalion, based on the myth of the sculptor that carves his own woman and she comes alive.  This has been depicted by George Bernard Shaw in the play of the same name.  We have seen it in the movie ‘My Fair Lady’ and it has been painted in a varity of ‘erotic’ poses throughout history.

"The rain in spain...falls mainly on the plain..." Eliza says. "Again!" Doctor Henry Higgens shouts.


Small correction*  I said ‘Venus’ in the caption below.  More likely ‘Cupid.’  Same personification but a Roman name.  

A painting by Jean-Leon Gerome (1890). Pygmalion is actually the sculptor and the statue that comes to life is Galatea. Venus (love personification) brings her to life.


Name the classical connection and get on the honor roll.

There’s a connection here to the classics.  Is it familiar?  Be the first to send a reply message in and get on the Ancient Rome Refocused Honor Roll. 


Update…The winners.

Steven Lee who brought the answer in on the Ancient Rome Refocused blog at 10:20 a.m.

Jesse Walker who followed up on the FACEBOOK page at 11:57. 

 The Charles Addams Cartoon from 1974 is a spoof from the Laocoon and his sons being strangled by serpents.  As you recall Laocoon was suggesting to burn the Trojan Horse and Poseidon sent a serpent to get rid of him.   


Rob’s Rant

(The following is an excerpt of Rob ranting on Episode Nine.  He calmed down eventually and brought out his guest.  For now on, he is going to have a beer before his podcast so that he will come out a little more mellow.)

So…what if you wanted to start your own empire?  Emperor James, Darko, Jordon and William, look to the Romans to get what you need.

Niccolo Machiavelli looked to the Romans.  He even wrote his own HOW TO book, titled ‘The Prince’.  In Machiavelli’s world the gods are not involved in the determining the outcome of politics.  In Machiavelli’s world men are the same no matter what the time or age, and each person in Greek, Roman, and Medieval, renaissance or today’s modern man has the same passions that lead to the same decisions, acts and results.  The book, ‘The Prince’ exploits the lessons of history in politics to teach a prince how to rule.  You might even say an aspiring emperor.  If you want to start your own empire, here’s your book, but it is nothing new – completed in 1517, the prince was based on his musings of the ancient world.  Machiavelli’s world was undergoing political agony, 30 years of French incursions subjugated Italy, and kings and popes fought for possessions.  Frankly, I don’t think it was much different than the world of the Caesars.  I wonder if it was much different than today.  It is a book that gives you, the aspiring emperor, advice in what a prince should or should not do.  Such as:


Interestingly enough you can find a similar quote from Caligula who said:

“Let them hate me as long as they fear me.”

Machiavelli’s book, The Prince, has been criticized for its amorality, but this is a 15th century guidebook for princes on how to survive the present day world of the 15th century.   These are observations he took from the classical past to present to the emperor of his age, Lorenzo di Medici, a prince…that he must sometimes…caress, hurt, forgive, punish, benefit, suppress and upon a policy chosen – wait for it – ACT.

Machiavelli said, “The common people are impressed by appearances.”  So to start an empire you must make a connection with Rome consciously or subconsciously.  Take a look how Napoleon was depicted to the French people.  Paintings of the little colonel in satin robes – and the key word here is purple.

You can’t look at any of Paul Louis David’s paintings and NOT say he saw himself as an emperor painted in the roman ilk.

Napoleon is quoted as saying: “I wished to found a European system, a Europe and code of laws, a European Judiciary, there would be but one people in Europe.” 

Let’s look at Napoleon’s coat of arms.  The eagle is centered on the crest.  The eagle is associated with military victory, and the day after his coronation napoleon set the eagle at the top of every flagpole of every flag of his army.  In 1804 imagine the English parliament, imagine Wellington upon hearing the news of what now led the legions, and I will make you a bet that they instantly knew Napoleon’s intentions – if they did not know already.  Symbols speak power, and Rome was on the march.

Let’s look closer at Napoleons coat of arms.  Look at the top of the crest to the right and left of the crown, Charlemagne holds a scepter, and you can see a hand – the fingers formed in the sign of benediction – both symbols borrowed from the Holy Roman Empire.  This was another symbol to set the psyche of Napoleon’s new Europe that he is the continuation of what came before, and thus giving himself – Napoleon – legitimacy. 

Anyway look at Napoleon’s coronation – check out the paintings of the period…Especially get a look at Jacques Louis David’s painting at the Louvre in Paris.  GOOGLE IT.   It reeks of Roman influence.   

Check out the coronation medal that was struck with the profile of Napoleon, very Caesar like, with the opposite side of Napoleon being raised up on a shield – supported by a Roman senator and a representative of the military  — very Roman  as well.

I will accept the argument that maybe the time of emulating the Romans have passed.  After all, great men in their efforts to be seen as egalitarian are not painted or photographed in Roman Toga anymore.  The psyche of public upon seeing Bill Gates dressed in a toga, or Bill Clinton, would think more TOGA PARTY then the tenets and principals of the ‘early’ Republic.  The idea of Roman influence has passed…could be true…but I doubt it.  A toga, a mere garment, is one thing, but power is another.  We are in the age of corporations, of companies that take in more funds greater than some governments.  The office of emperor has now been replaced by the term CEO.  I will take a bet that in some future time, that a company may operate in some instances like a republic – like Microsoft with a benevolent First Citizen named Bill Gates; in some instances may operate like an empire – like Apple with an dictatorial emperor like Steve Jobs; in some instances like a corrupt imperial governor intending to fleece the provinces like Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sax and their making money on money schemes that flattened our economy into its present state.    And who can forget the worst spendthrift who can only be compared to Caligula in all his glory – the company called ENRON.  

Like the villas that crowd the southern coast of Italy, a new elite of Neros are building their own versions of golden palaces such as Gatsby homes lining the Hampton coast and the symbols of excess such as forty five million dollar checking accounts, and the fifth avenue New York Duplex.  It is not that there are successful, it is not that they made all the right choices, it is that they think they deserve everything and it’s theirs BY RIGHT.   

I am less cynical then you think.  I believe that the Roman influence, the tenets of republic and philosophy have not simply converted into an economic corporate power structure. 

I believe the rise of European democracies spells the spirit of the early Roman Republic lives on, I believe that western influence and western ideals have touched the democracy movements of China.  What’s more, if the worst happens, and society fell, and another dark age descended upon the earth…that somewhere on the plans of Kansas or Colorado or whatever territory or state that was able to lift the fog of darkness and light the fire of renaissance, a group of founding fathers will begin again with copies of the following…


The Bible,


The Constitution,


The Republic by Plato

And definitely;

The writings of Cicero.


Thank you India

“…I’m curious about things people aren’t suppose to see — so, for example I like going to the British Museum, but I would like it better if I could go into all the offices and storage rooms, I want to look in all the drawers and — discover stuff.”

–From the book Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

This quote says so much about me…it’s scary.  This is what I want to do.  I want to see the basement of the Chicago Art Museum.  I want to be invited into the backrooms of the Oriental Museum at the University of Chicago.  I want to find a dusty artifact wrapped in linen. 

One time I ordered a pencil box from India.  Oh, what a modern age we live in…I ordered it off of ebay (big deal…right?).   BUT it arrived like it had traveled far (well it had…I say “it had traveled far” with a touch of poetry.  It was how it was packaged that gave it mystery).  It was wrapped in rough linen (wool?), the address drawn on with a marker, tied with tape and rope, and it  had tons of postage…no box, and no bubble wrap.  You could smell the distance it had traveled, and somehow…somehow it looked like it began its travels in 1848 on the back of a donkey.    It took an hour to unwrap, and somehow it made the pencil box (with hidden compartment) more beautiful.    Don’t get me wrong…I am not making fun of it…I am in debt to the seller who I am sure runs quite a modern shop. 

He made the experience…magical.   

(Whom better than a Greek to sing of Ithaca?  Does anyone else have a poem that helps you time travel to the past and illuminate the present?)


By Constantine P. Cavafy

When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy –
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don’t in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn’t anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn’t deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you’ll have understood what these Ithakas mean.