That Shipwreck Full of Lead

A while ago we mentioned that lead recovered from a Roman shipwreck was going to be used to help in neutrino research. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was more interested in the shipwreck than the lead, so I’m happy to share this very interesting video/slideshow thingy by Rossella Lorenzi of Discovery News fame. All about the wreck:

Vidfest: We’re all Spartacus

I thought of tying this to the Times piece (below) but it seems sufficiently different to warrant its own little chunk of rogueclassicism. The incipit of a column in the Post … where possible, I’ve interspersed bits from Youtub of the clip in question:

1. In the Stanley Kubrick epic “Spartacus,” the Romans offer slaves leniency if they’ll turn in the title character, played by Kirk Douglas. But when Spartacus rises to identify himself, Tony Curtis’ Antoninus screams “I’m Spartacus!” So does another man, then another, and by scene’s end, the infamous “No Snitching” movement is born.

And so, too, is an iconic movie moment, as “I’m Spartacus” became a legendary movie line in league with “You talkin’ to me?” “I coulda been a contender,” and “Don’t call me Shirley.”

As such, the line has generated more parodies and offshoots in pop culture than the “Single Ladies” video has on YouTube. On the occasion of the film’s 50th anniversary Blu-Ray release this Tuesday, here are some of our favorites.

MONTY PYTHON’S “LIFE OF BRIAN” (1979) As the Romans seek Brian (Graham Chapman) in order to release him from his crucifixion, they ask him to identify himself. Caught unaware, as he’s cursing out John Cleese’s People’s Front of Judea, the also-crucified Eric Idle sneaks in with, “I’m Brian of Nazareth.” When the real Brian screams “I’m Brian,” so does another man on a cross; then another, and another, until it becomes a chorus — including one man who announces, “I’m Brian, and so’s my wife.” The gesture of generosity from “Spartacus” is flipped into a cowardly act of self-preservation.

“MALCOLM X” (1992) Spike Lee ends his biopic of the civil rights icon with a depiction of Malcolm’s assassination, followed by footage of the actual murder. Then real African and African-American children declare, in the same spirit of unity as Spartacus’ fellow slaves, “I am Malcolm X.” [the bit comes towards the end of this long clip; some nice oratory by Nelson Mandela follows]

“MONK” (2002) The episode “Mr. Monk Meets the Red-headed Stranger” finds Willie Nelson, playing himself, suspected of killing his road manager after a financial dispute. When the police come to arrest him, his band members loyally step up, intoning “I’m Willie Nelson” one by one. The real Willie wisely surmises, “I don’t think they’re goin’ for it, boys.” [sorry … can’t find one for this]

“SOUTH PARK” (2005) In the episode “Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow,” which aired two months after Hurricane Katrina, Cartman and Stan accidentally breach a local beaver dam. This leads to Katrina-level flooding, and a parody of the hysteria and whirlwind of blame surrounding that tragedy that includes the mantra, “George Bush doesn’t care about beavers.” At episode’s end, after Stan confesses, the townspeople misconstrue his guilt for altruism and declare “I broke the dam” one after the other, Spartacus-style, as the music swells, with Stan screaming the details of his crime aloud to no avail. [can’t find this one either, although I suspect it’s there somewhere]

PEPSI COMMERCIAL (2005) Incorporating clips from the film, here the Romans simply want to return a lost lunch bag with the name “Spartacus” written on the back, and a can of Pepsi inside, to its rightful owner. As a Roman holds the can aloft and screams “Is there a Spartacus here to claim this?” Douglas and Curtis rise, Curtis screams his line, and the noble scene is transformed into a greedy grab for a can of soda as Douglas looks on, forlorn. In the end, the Roman declares that he is Spartacus, and takes the can for himself.

via Agenda: We’re all Spartacus – NYPOST.com.

… and as long as we’re doing things Spartacan, I came across this little vid thing of the Mediaeval Baebes singing Salva Nos, with images from the 2004 tv version of Spartacus:

Romans Just Like Us (on screen anyway)

From Natalie Haynes in the Times’ entertainment pages (this one is filling my box and Facebook notification thingy; tip o’ the pileus to quite a few folks) … a good excerpt:

Spartacus reflects so many of our current obsessions: the actors are uniformly gorgeous, toned and buff, like models. It’s never questioned. These are gladiators — they spend all day working out. Well, maybe, but think what the Romans and Greeks used to look like on TV: Peter Ustinov was no John Hannah. And it’s even more obvious when you look at Perseus in the original Clash of the Titans movie and this year’s remake. Harry Hamlin was very pretty, but he would have needed a year in the gym to look like Sam Worthington.

So while it’s tempting to believe that we are like the Romans that we see on TV — the sex, the violence, the swearing, the beautiful naked ladies and the hot, naked guys — the truth is that we are simply constructing a vision of the Romans that shows us as we would like to see ourselves. Which raises the question of how much historical accuracy matters in entertainment.

via Why the Romans on screen are just like us – Times Online.

Also Seen: Can’t Miss Gladiator!

The New York Post asked a pile of celebs the movies they have to see … a couple are of interest:

* Jeanine Pirro: “Gladiator.” It’s not just an historical classic about the triumph of the human spirit, it’s about settling scores. It’s about strength and honor.

* Sherri Shepherd (“The View”): “Gladiator,” because Russell Crowe fighting to avenge his wife and child is sexiness at its best.

via TV stars’ Brian Williams, Regis Philbin, Rachael Ray’s can’t-miss movies – NYPOST.com.

Greek Scandal at Cambridge!

University of Cambridge coat of arms.

Image via Wikipedia

A spelling mistake in ancient Greek on the doors to the Cambridge University classics faculty has left officials red-faced.

The stylish new entrance to the £1.3 million extension at the department, on the university’s Sidgwick site, boasts glass doors emblazoned with a quote by Aristotle, chosen by academics from the faculty.

But the quote – which translates as “all men by nature desiring to know” – includes the letter S, when it should in fact have the Greek letter sigma.

Prof Mary Beard, a member of the department, also criticised the electronic opening mechanism of the doors.

In her blog, she wrote: “Even the gods have shown their disapproval in their own inimitable way.

“We decided to have some nice ancient writing across the offending doors (partly another health and safety requirement – you can’t have plain glass doors in case someone bumps into them – I kid you not).

“One of the quotes we chose was that famous lines of Aristotle about ‘all men by nature desiring to know’. But look what happened to the S of ‘Phusei’ (by nature) . . . an English S not a Greek S.”

Prof Beard said the doors were too heavy for some people to push open manually – causing “rage and bottle necks” for staff and students.

The classicist said: “To open them, you have to press an electronic ‘open door’ button – and they then sweep aside dramatically in front of you. Dramatically and slowly. So, at busy times (like, on the hour, when lectures are changing over), there is a mass of bodies trying to get into and out of the building, but needing to wait for the stately pace of the doors’ operation.

“In any case, as soon as you push them open and then someone pushes the button from the other side, the doors take on a life of their own and come back and attack you.

“And as if that wasn’t enough, they repeatedly stop working anyway.”

The two-storey extension sparked a row with the nearby faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies when plans were announced. Prof Richard Bowring, a professor in Japanese studies, described the design as “far from being an elegant solution”, and predicted a “blind corner” at the site would lead to a “nasty accident”.

But Prof Malcolm Schofield, chairman of the classics faculty board, described it as “ingenious and elegant”.

The university declined to comment.

via Cambridge News | New doors are all Greek to classics department.

… kind of reminds me of the plaque I read every time I have a health and safety meeting at our union office. In very large letters we read “IN MEMORIUM” … shudder (ad nauseum (cuz I’m ‘sic’ of course) …

More coverage (you’d think there’d be a bit more creativity in headlines):

What Chris Bobonich is Up To

The lifework of Chris Bobonich requires deep thought: He is a Plato expert.

This week, the professor of philosophy and classics at Stanford (Calif.) University will travel cross-country to share his knowledge with a central Ohio audience.

The 50-year-old, at work on a book about Greek philosophers and practical reasoning, agreed to ponder some questions ahead of his Wednesday appearance.

… the interview follows at: