Movie Gossip

There was quite a bit of movie gossip this past week … First, from the Hollywood Reporter (and other sources) we hear of a movie-to-be called Odysseus … inter alia:

Warners is going back to ancient Greece, winning a major spec script bidding war to pick up “Odysseus,” written by Ann Peacock, with Jonathan Liebesman attached to direct. Gianni Nunnari is producing via his Hollywood Gang Prods.

The story centers on the legendary hero Odysseus, famed king of Ithaca, who returns to his island after 20 years of fighting the Trojan Wars, only to find his kingdom under the brutal occupation of an invading force. Odysseus single-handedly defeats every last man and takes back his wife, his son and his kingdom.

Centurion (based on Eagle of the Ninth) is being touted as a sort of allegory … The incipit of a brief item in the Telegraph:

Both are intended as allegories of recent American experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kevin Macdonald, the director of The Last King of Scotland and State of Play, is directing the adaptation of Rosemary Sutcliffe’s 1954 novel The Eagle of the Ninth.

It tells of a disillusioned young Roman soldier who travels to Scotland to find out what happened to his father who fought there.

The Romans will be made to resemble American GIs in the film in a clear attempt to draw parallels between past and present, said Macdonald.

“In a way it is an Iraq or Afghanistan war film taking place in the second century,” he told The Times.

The second film to explore the same theme is Centurion, directed by Neil Marshall, who helped make the horror movie Dog Soldiers. It will look at the Roman army’s apparent defeat directly, rather than through the lens of the next generation.

… and last, but not least, Clash of the Titans has begun filming:

ED: Iris Festival

The Iris Festival for inner London schools
17-19th June, 2009
The Scoop at More London

The Iris Festival is a free three-day festival of Classics, run by educational charity The Iris Project (www.irismagazine.org), including plays and performances of Greek drama by London state schools from London’s most deprived boroughs, as well as activities, workshops and talks on Latin and ancient Greek.

Hundreds of pupils from London state schools will be acting on stage. The festival is a culmination of a year’s work with schools, introducing Greek and Roman civilisation and culture in the form of classes and workshops that aim both to teach about ancient languages and culture as well as working into the school’s social curriculum: Greek drama is inextricably linked with themes such as civic and social responsibility. These themes will be brought out both in the plays and in the workshops through discussion and role play.

The festival is an opportunity for children of all ages in inner London state schools to perform in public to a wide audience in an exciting professional venue and a chance for members of the public and schools to enjoy a three-day festival of Classics and Classical drama.

For more information, please contact us using the details below.


Dr Lorna Robinson
Director, The Iris Project
www.irismagazine.org
Registered Charity No. 1121868

8 Pond Close
Oxford.
OX3 8JH

tel: (01865) 308698
mob: 07988 819158

Tomb of Cicero’s Daughter?

In light of all the Cleo hype (about which I’ll probably have more to add later), it’s interesting perhaps to direct the readers of rogueclassicism to an interesting section of Lanciani in which he describes an amazing discovery in Rome from 1485 (hat tip to Man of Roma for this) … here’s a useful excerpt (via Lacus Curtius):

There have been so many accounts published by modern writersin reference to this extraordinary event that it may interest my readers to learn the truth by reviewing the evidence as it stands in its original simplicity. I shall only quote such authorities as enable us to ascertain what really took place on that memorable day. The case is in itself so unique that it does not need amplification or the addition of imaginary details. Let us first consult the diary of Antonio di Vaseli:—
(f. 48.) “To‑day, April 19, 1485, the news came into Rome, that a body buried a thousand years ago had been found in a farm of Santa Maria Nova, in the Campagna, near the Casale Rotondo. . . . (f. 49.) The Conservatori of Rome despatched a coffin to Santa Maria Nova elaborately made, and a company of men for the transportation of the body into the city. The body has been placed for exhibition in the Conservatori palace, and large crown of citizens and noblemen have gone to see it. The body seems to be covered with a glutinous substance, a mixture of myrrh and other precious ointments, which attract swarms of bees. The said body is intact. The hair is long and thick; the eyelashes, eyes, nose, and ears are spotless, as well as the nails. It appears to be the body of a woman, of good size; and her head is covered with a light cap of woven gold thread, very beautiful. The teeth are white and perfect; the flesh and the tongue retain their natural color; but if the glutinous substance is washed off, the flesh blackens in less than an hour. Much care has been taken in searching the tomb in which the corpse was found, in the hope of discovering the epitaph, with her name; it must be an illustrious one, because none but a noble and wealthy person could afford to be buried in such a costly sarcophagus thus filled with precious ointments.”

Translation of a letter of messer Daniele da San Sebastiano, dated MCCCCLXXXV

“In the course of excavations which were made on the Appian Way, to find stones and marbles, three marble tombs have been discovered during these last days, sunk twelve feet below ground. One was of Terentia Tulliola, daughter of Cicero; the other had no epitaph. One of them contained a young girl, intact in all her members, covered from head to foot with a coating of aromatic paste, one inch thick. On the removal of this coating, which we believe to be composed of myrrh, frankincense, aloe, and other priceless drugs, a face appeared, so lovely, so pleasing, so attractive, that, although the girl had certainly been dead fifteen hundred years, she appeared to have been laid to rest that very day. The thick masses of hair, collected on the top of the head in the old style, seemed to have been combed then and there. The eyelids could be opened and shut; the ears and the nose were so well preserved that, after being bent to one side or the other, they instantly resumed their original shape. By pressing the flesh of cheeks the color would disappear as in a living body. The tongue could be seen through the pink lips; the articulation of the hands and feet still retained their elasticity. The whole of Rome, men and women, to the number of twenty thousand, visited the marvel of Santa Maria Nova that day. I hasten to inform you of this event, because I want you to understand how the ancients took care to prepare not only their souls but also their bodies for immortality. I am sure that if you had the privilege of beholding that lovely young face, your pleasure would have equalled your astonishment.”

Long time readers of rogueclassicism might have their memory tweaked to a post I did a few years ago on so-called Ever Burning Lamps, which cited the American Chronicle for, inter alia:

In about 1540, during the Papacy of Paul III a burning lamp was found in a tomb on the Appian Way at Rome. The tomb was believed to belong to Tulliola, the daughter of Cicero. She died in 44 B.C. The lamp that had burned in the sealed vault for 1,550 years was extinguished when exposed to the air. Interesting about this particular discovery is also the unknown transparent liquid in which the deceased was floating. By putting the body in this liquid, the ancients managed to preserve the corpse in such a good condition that it appeared as if death had occurred only a few days ago.

By an interesting bit of synchonicity, t’other day I also came across a suitable skeptical article on these ‘perpetual’ lamps in an issue of Saturday Magazine from 1842 … the ‘tomb of Tulliola’ is al mentioned in a couple of clippings:

Text not available
The Saturday magazine

Text not available
The Saturday magazine

I’m sure I could crawl the web and find zillions of other examples; the sad thing to note, though, is that despite skepticism in regards to identities of folks in tombs and the like, and despite obvious chronological difficulties with discovery of evidence and the like, folks will still believe occupants are whoever they want them to be … alas.

Classicisms?

A review of Iphigenia and Other Daughters in the Columbia City Paper suggests, inter alia:

Classicists hate to admit it, but Homer and all who proceeded him in the tradition of ancient Greek theater (Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus, etc.) were of a mind to entertain just as much to educate and elucidate.

… er, no … it’s probably the other way around if anything. Actually, it doesn’t really reflect what Classicists think at all …

Roman Torture?

David Bromwich in the Huffington Post writing about US torture etc. mentions, inter alia:

Romans of the imperial age practiced torture against enemy combatants on an imposing scale of unrestraint. The gloves were really off. Any viewer of the final montage of Kubrick’s film of Spartacus will remember the captives of the slave rebellion nailed on their crosses like trees of that peculiar climate. The Christian religion was founded against the empire that did such things. It incorporated into its central symbol the purest revulsion from torture.

Okay … let’s distinguish between ‘torture for information’ and ‘torture as part of the execution process … do we have evidence of the Romans ‘torturing for information’ in a military context?

Roman Burials from Bethlehem

Haven’t seen any more coverage of this other than from the Ma’an News Agency:

Roman-era catacombs were unearthed in Bethlehem Saturday during construction in an empty lot beside Bethlehem University.

The small underground cave system opens facing north, and held four stone coffins with engravings on each, housed in two separate dug out burial areas.

Head of Antiquates department in Jericho Wael Hamamrah estimated the artifacts, complete with skeletal remains and some pottery are between 1,800 and 1,900 years old.

Construction workers preparing to lay pipe in the yard called Palestinian tourism and antiquates police when they went to investigate the sudden collapse of earth in an area they had been digging in that morning.

The underground hall leads to two rooms, one 70×28 centimeters and the other 40×24 centimeters,

Head engineer at the site Mohammad Al-Quraji said the crew was very surprised when the earth collapsed, and stunned when they peered into the underground tombs. They left the scene untouched until antiquities experts arrived, and helped remove debris as experts investigated the site.

A not-very-useful photo accompanies the original article …

Cross Cultural Match of the Century!

… or so it seemed when I read this headline a bit too quickly:

Alexander on undercard as Latimore faces Spinks

… could the wily translator match up to the inquisitive Egyptian beastie? The followup tells the tale:

Spinks edges Latimore for IBF belt!

… and in case you were wondering, Alexander enneagrammatically KOed Jesus in the ninth round …

Cleveland Museum of Art Returns

Getting a smattering of coverage this past week was the announcement that the Cleveland Museum of Art would be returning 14 items (13 from the period within our purview) to Italy which were considered to be of dubious origin. In return, the CMoA will be receiving a loan of items of similar value. There don’t seem to be many photos of the items, but this red figure askos is one of my faves:

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer

An excerpt from the coverage in the Plain Dealer:

Italian authorities used evidence collected in a police raid in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1995, which exposed a network of “tombaroli,” or tomb robbers, who passed the works to middlemen who sold them to museums.

Among the most significant objects being returned to Italy from Cleveland is a fourth-century B.C. Apulian red-figured volute krater — a large wine vessel — by the Dorias painter, which stands roughly 4 feet high.

Other works include Etruscan silver bracelets; a Neolithic bronze warrior from Sardinia; an Attic rhyton, or drinking vessel, in the shape of a mule; and a large, Corinthian-column krater.

Rub said the condition of the objects was inspected both by Italian and museum officials Tuesday before they were crated and sealed for transfer today.

The museum turned down requests from The Plain Dealer to observe and photograph the packing of the artworks, in part out of concern for security and in part because museum views the transfer as less important than the agreement reached with Italy last fall.

“I look upon this as a kind of mechanical thing,” Rub said. “The big news for me was the signing of the agreement.”

Of equal (or perhaps greater) interest is a little excerpt tucked into a sidebar photo:

The Cleveland Museum ofArt and Italy have created a joint committee to examine the museum’s “Victory with Cornucopia (Chariot Attachment),” purchased in 1984, plus a large bronze statue of Apollo Sauroktonos, or “Lizard Slayer,” to determine whether the works were looted in violation of modern laws.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about that.

As always in such things, David Gill’s  blogposts should be consulted:

Romans in China Redux

Folks who follow me on Twitter (for whatever reason) know that I spent much of yesterday returning to using Thunderbird as my email program of choice, during the course of which I came across assorted things which I had put aside to check out later, etc.. Among those items was the oft-repeated story about people from the Chinese village of Liqian being descended from Crassus’ troops. Every couple of years, we’d get a story — such as this one from ANSA back in 2005, this one from Xinhua from 2005, and this one from the Telegraph back in 2007 — in which we’d hear about genetic tests to prove or disprove such. It seems the testing was done and the results were published, but for some reason, the press doesn’t seem to have been interested in them (near as I can tell).

Here’s the relevant abstract:

The Liqian people in north China are well known because of the controversial hypothesis of an ancient Roman mercenary origin. To test this hypothesis, 227 male individuals representing four Chinese populations were analyzed at 12 short tandem repeat (STR) loci and 12 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). At the haplogroup levels, 77% Liqian Y chromosomes were restricted to East Asia. Principal component (PC) and multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis suggests that the Liqians are closely related to Chinese populations, especially Han Chinese populations, whereas they greatly deviate from Central Asian and Western Eurasian populations. Further phylogenetic and admixture analysis confirmed that the Han Chinese contributed greatly to the Liqian gene pool. The Liqian and the Yugur people, regarded as kindred populations with common origins, present an underlying genetic difference in a median-joining network. Overall, a Roman mercenary origin could not be accepted as true according to paternal genetic variation, and the current Liqian population is more likely to be a subgroup of the Chinese majority Han.

… oh well.