Colchester Roman Circus Saved?

The campaigners have reached their goal … does this mean that the Circus is saved or are there other hurdles?

Campaigners in Colchester hit their target yesterday of raising £200,000 towards saving the only Roman chariot-racing circus ever found in Britain. Nothing remains above ground except a few stones, but the campaigners aim to buy a Victorian garden which covers a crucial part of the track: the starting gates from which the chariots, pulled by four horses, would have raced past raked seating for 15,000 spectators – more than twice the population when Colchester was a Roman town.Most of the money came in small donations from local people. They organised events including a chariot and two horses hurtling around the car park before Colchester United’s match against Oldham on February 20.The campaigners hope that local community groups, including the Colchester Archaeological Trust, which discovered the circus, will buy a listed but derelict sergeant’s mess which adjoins the garden to build a visitor centre.

via Campaigners hit £200,000 target to save Colchester’s Roman circus | Guardian .

Another Bust in Thessaloniki

The Thessaloniki Police Antiquities Smuggling department on Sunday announced that it had successfully busted a ring of illegal antiquities traders, who were negotiating with antiquities-trading circuits for the sale of important archaeological finds for very large sums of money.

Police said that an investigation lasting several months had culminated last Friday with the arrest of two Greeks aged 48 and 51 at the Kavala junction of the Egnatia Highway. In a spot search of their car, police found and confiscated a bronze statue dated to the 4th century B.C.

Further searches in the homes of the two suspects in Drama yielded more important archaeological artifacts that were in their possession, including the bronze head of a boy dated to the Roman era, a stone relief of a woman, two bronze coins, 11 gold coins, one silver coin and the bronze head of a youth.

Archaeologists examining the objects confiscated have confirmed that these fall under the statutes of the ‘Protection of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage’ act, while the bronze statue and head of a boy, in particular, are believed to be objects of unique archaeological, historic and commercial value. The two men were apparently negotiating the sale of the statue for seven million euros.

via Major finds recovered in illegal antiquities bust | ANA.

Sword and Sandal Flicks

The Independent has a feature on sword and sandal flicks with a handy list at the end of just-released and to-be-released films of the genre. Here are a few to keep your eyes open for:

The Eagle of the Ninth

In Britain, this time in AD140, but with the Ninth Legion again as a young soldier attempts to find its lost emblem. Released in September.

Clash of the Titans

Remake of 1981 classic. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes battle gods in a tale based on the myth of Perseus and the Medusa. March release.

The Resurrection of Christ

Cashing in on the success of Mel Gibson’s 2004 The Passion of the Christ, but with added “Gladiator dimension” and first-century political intrigue. Starts shooting in July.

Ben Hur

Ray Winstone stars as the Roman general Quintus Arrius and Joseph Morgan plays the chariot-racing champ Judah Ben Hur in a television remake of the 1959 classic story set in the early days of Christianity. To be screened later this year.

The Argonauts

Jason is off to find the Golden Fleece once again in this remake of the 1963 classic, left, – noted for its special effects by Ray Harryhausen – scheduled for release next year, exactly a century after the first Argonauts film.

Cleo

Ray Winstone (again) in Steven Soderbergh’s 1920s musical version of Antony and Cleopatra’s story. Elizabeth Taylor starred in the 1963 original.

Hercules: The Thracian Wars

The son of Zeus is to be given the 300 treatment in this film based on the bloodthirsty US comic book in which Hercules loses his family and finds solace in battle. The film is being developed by Universal Pictures to be released next year.

Coriolanus

The film of Shakespeare’s play about a banished hero avenging himself on Rome will be directed by Ralph Fiennes and is about to start shooting.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Greek gods make mischief in modern-day New York as they race to find Zeus’s missing bolt of lightning. In cinemas now.

Dawn of War

This time it’s the story of Theseus which will be given the full cinematographic visual trickery, as the hero of Athens takes on the Minotaur – half-bull, half-man – among other monsters. Starts shooting next month.

Centurion

Dominic West and Michael Fassbender star as Roman soldiers on the march with the legendary Ninth Legion in Britain in AD117. Released in April.

via Swords and sandals: A bid for box-office glory | The Independent.

Why We Need More Classics in Canada

The first sentence of a piece in the Toronto Star by a well-known (in Canada) journalist:

In Greek mythology, Diana is born by springing from the head of her father Zeus, fully clad in armour, with spear and shield. A goddess of wisdom and heroic endeavours.

… I don’t think I need to specify the (very basic) mistake(s) in this one for readers of rogueclassicism …

via Meet the parents – Vancouver 2010 Olympics | Toronto Star.

Garrolous Nestor?

The incipit of a book reviewish thing (Thomas Sowell … nothing really Classical) which is kind of interesting:

Years ago I encountered a wonderful book entitled “The Classics Reclassified.” It was a brilliant piece of satire by Richard Armour, an esteemed English professor, based on several of the classic books used for decades as high school reading material. One of these was The Iliad, which featured, on occasion, the wise old man, Nestor. “Nestor,” Armour said, “knew everything except when to keep his mouth shut.” It has now become obvious that Barack Obama has this same problem.

Actually, to be fair to Nestor , in Homer’s Iliad he was an elder statesman, how may have been as much as 110 years old. He was considered the source of much wisdom although many people probably considered him long winded. But then, what do you expect in epic poetry?

Still, even if Nestor wasn’t quite110 years old it is certain that he had garnered his share of life’s experiences and wasn’t just talking to hear his own voice. He was one of the Argonauts, participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar and became king of Pylos. He still led his warriors in the Trojan War, although no longer able to fight. His advice is generally good, and when it isn’t, it is often the result of divine intervention. Was Nestor an intellectual? Perhaps, because of his age, reputed wisdom and the reliance others placed in him. However, I don’t think Thomas Sowell would have called him one.

More:

via People who talk too much… | Intellectual Conservative Politics and Philosophy.

Citanda: Was Seneca Worth an Oscar Award?

Interesting item in News Blaze:

The first step in providing a proper analysis of the dramatic view Lucius Anneus Seneca held, in regards to his tragedy works, is to investigate his language and precise use of high and pregnant words. This is definitely the first and probably the most important, sign of a big fracture between the philosophical and the dramatic works.

If the main purpose of philosophy is to be useful for the inner perfection, the philosopher will have to care about the res, not about an elaborate and rich vocabulary: non delectent verba nostra sed prosint (Epistulae ad Lucilium, 75, 5). This would be justified only if -according to an expressive effectiveness, which means its use in sententiae or poetical quotes- it accomplished a psychagogic intent: they will help to plant a moral rule or a precept in the reader’s mind.

But the reading of Seneca’s philosophical works sheds a bright light on a contradictory aspect: even Seneca’s philosophical prose is almost the emblem of a laboured style, dense and complex, characterized by a precise use of coinciding epigrams and expressions.

Seneca refuses the compact classical architecture that characterizes Cicero’s periodization. Its hypotactical disposition orders the inner logical hierarchy, and creates an eminently paratactical style. The intent is to reproduce the sermon, spoken language, and destroy the structure of the thought in a series of sharp and sententious periods. The link is mainly given by antithesis and repetitions (producing that effect of sand without lime, that was underlined by Caligula).

This contrast with Cicero’s harmonic speech represents a revolution and has its origin in the Asianic rethorics and the preaching of the cynical philosophers: it’s typical development among a game of parallelisms, oppositions, repetitions, in a quick series of short, nervous, sentences -the minutissimae sententiae blamed by Quintilianus-, with a sort of pointillist technique, has the effect of analyzing an idea from all the points of view available, offering a pregnant and coincided formulation, until it is crystallized in the epigrammatic expression.

More …

via Was Seneca Worth an Oscar Award? | News Blaze.

Caligulan Censorship? Not quite …

Whenever some library hosts a thing about censorship and the like, invariably something from ancient times comes up … here’s the latest example of same, such as it is:

AD 35: Roman Emperor Caligula opposed the reading of The Odyssey by Homer, written more than 300 years before. He thought the epic poem was dangerous because it expressed the Greek ideas of freedom.

via Vernon Morning Star – A history of censorship.

Even if we ignore the apparent problem with the date of Homer, we should point out that this is a bit of an exaggeration of what Suetonius (Gaius, 34 via the Latin Library)  says about the matter, to wit:

Cogitavit etiam de Homeri carminibus abolendis, cur enim sibi non licere dicens, quod Platoni licuisset, qui eum e civitate quam constituebat eiecerit?

Sounds like Caligulan humour rather than anything approaching censorship and, of course, there ain’t a thing about “ideals of Greek freedom” (a phrase I’ve never heard associated with the Odyssey.

Spartacus the Communist

I knew that Spartacus was highly regarded in Marxist circles, but I didn’t know this sort of thing occurred with the Kirk Douglas film came out (in medias res from an article on a showing of the film):

As a leader, Spartacus has been admired by revolutionaries seeking to overcome the power of an over-class. Karl Marx admired Spartacus as did Che Guevara, the revolutionary who played a key role with Fidel Castro in overthrowing the Cuban dictator, Batista. Spartacus was hailed by the German Communist movement during World War I and by the Austrian anti-Fascists during the 1970s.

So, it was particularly shocking in 1960 when the film “Spartacus” was released with Dalton Trumbo as the screenwriter. Trumbo was one of the Hollywood Ten who had refused to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 as they attempted to uncover Communist influence in Hollywood. As a result, Trumbo was blacklisted from working in Hollywood and spent 11 months in prison.

Out of concern that “Spartacus” was a sign that Hollywood seemed to be falling under the influence of “Soviet indoctrinated artists,” the American Legion attacked Trumbo and Kirk Douglas, the film’s star and executive producer.

The American Legion issued letters to 17,000 veteran posts around the country, advising them not to see the film because of its suspected Communist influence. Furthermore, because of the bloody battle scenes, the skimpy slave and gladiator costumes, and the sexual suggestiveness set in pagan times, the film ran into difficulty with the Motion Picture Association of America, which insisted upon numerous cuts and changes to the film in order to accommodate its censorship guidelines.

via NAU Film Series: ‘Spartacus': A controversial film set in ancient Rome | Arizona Daily Sun.