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.
via People who talk too much… | Intellectual Conservative Politics and Philosophy.
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.
via Was Seneca Worth an Oscar Award? | News Blaze.
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.
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.
Timothy J. Moore, professor of classics at the University of Texas, will deliver Monmouth College’s 26th annual Bernice L. Fox Classics Lecture on March 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wells Theater.
Titled “Musical Comedy: Roman and American,” the lecture is free and open to the public.
Moore will propose that for all their differences, the musical comedies of ancient Rome and contemporary America are remarkably similar in many ways. The comedies of the Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence, like the musical comedies of contemporary America, mixed spoken dialogue with songs.
“We can therefore learn much about Roman comedy, the American musical and the nature of musical theater by comparing how the two genres approach various aspects of the form,” he said.
“The Roman plays, like their modern descendents, use music to distinguish characters, mark the progress of love affairs, and reinforce emotional and humorous moments. At the same time, differences in the musical structures and tone of the two genres reflect changing notions of how music and drama should work together.”
via Musical comedy the topic of MC’s 26th Fox Classics Lecture – Monmouth, IL | Daily Review Atlas.