Carlos Pena: Gladiator?

I’ll admit I’m not a major baseball fan, but this one seems worthy of some rc love. This story actually broke last week but I searched in vain for a photo … here’s the incipit of a piece in the Tampa Bay Times:

The scary-looking, metal, medieval-style helmet mask that sits in Carlos Peña’s locker — and occasionally on his head and those of his teammates — seems a bit out of place, even in the frat house known as the Rays clubhouse. • But only till the Rays first baseman explains his fanaticism for the movie Gladiator, from which it came.

Peña figures he has seen the 2000 film starring Russell Crowe more than 100 times, considering it not only “the best movie ever made” and “a piece of art,” but something of a guiding force and its catchphrase, “Strength and Honor,” a motto.

“Obviously, I think it’s a great story line, and in some ways, I feel like I can identify with it,” Peña said. “It’s a story of a man who overcomes a lot of obstacles and who’s totally committed to doing the right thing. It’s very inspiring. I think it’s very uplifting. So many times I watch it and I can’t help but feel stronger, better, kind of fueled by it.”

So sitting with new teammate Luke Scott in front of the big-screen TV in the clubhouse in Toronto a couple of weeks ago with some time to kill before a game, Peña suggested they put on Gladiator.

“Luke goes, ‘Dude, that movie is the best.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, it is. It’s awesome,’ ” Peña relayed. “So we got to talking about it and joking. And now every time I see him, I’m like, ‘Strength and Honor,’ and he laughs. And we do it over and over again.”

Peña has seen the movie enough to spot mistakes. But for some reason this time, he was fixated on the helmet Crowe’s character, Maximus, wore.

“I see Maximus get on his horse, and he puts his sword up and he has this mask,” Peña said. “And I’m like, ‘Dude, that mask is ridiculous. That mask is unbelievable. Look at this. Where can we get one of these?’

“And I’m thinking ahead: How cool would it be to have one of these in the clubhouse? We’ve got to have it.” [...]

… and of course, we need a photo:

via the Tampa Bay Times

… might make me watch baseball if they wore that sort of thing … and had some sort of violent body contact to go along with it.

An Odyssey TV Series?

Tip o’ the pileus to Diana Wright who sent this in earlier this week, but I only found it while doing my Explorator newsletter this a.m.. The incipit of an item from C21 (whatever that is):

Broadcasters in Italy, Finland, Brazil and Slovakia are onboard a new scripted series based on Homer’s The Odyssey.

Odysseus (12×52′) will be coproduced by French producers Making Prod and GMT for Arte France.

The first six episodes are based on the book, which begins in 8BC, 10 years after the end of the Trojan war. Odysseus, king of Ithaca, has still not returned home and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus are struggling to maintain order.

The second half of the TV series will take the characters beyond Homer’s story.

Created by Frédéric Azémar, Odysseus is distributed by Studio Hamburg in Germany and 100% Distribution, a joint venture between Making Prod and another French fiction producer, Tetra Media Studios.

Channels that have now picked up rights to the French-language series include Rai Uno (Italy), RTP (Portugal), Ceska TV (Czech Republic), SFTV (Switzerland), Novi Sad (Serbia), YLE (Finland), Markiza (Slovakia), Globo TV (Brazil) and international French channel TV5 Monde. [...]

A press release from back in January (which I obviously missed) fills in some details:

The first season of Odysseus, now being filmed, recounts the events that took place in Ithaca while Ulysses was absent for 20 years. This new take on Homer’s The Odyssey features an enticing cast that includes Caterina Murino (Penelope), Niels Schneider (Telemachus), Karina Testa (Clea), Joseph Malerba (Mentor), Bruno Todeschini (Leocritus), Alessio Boni (Ulysses) and more.

Synopsis
The situation in Ithaca is critical. Ten years have passed since the Trojan War ended, and all the warriors have returned home, except for one: Ulysses, who is rumoured to have been lost at sea. Ithaca, deprived of its king for far too long, lacks many resources, and its people are beginning to complain.

Penelope maintains her husband’s throne as best she can and holds on to what little power she still has. Every day, she faces everyone’s doubts about Ulysses’ return, as well as the scheming of Leocritus, the head of the warriors with a claim to the throne. She protects her son Telemachus and keeps him at a safe distance from the games of power. Neither a great strategist nor a warrior, he must nevertheless take action on behalf of Ithaca. Will Telemachus be able to defend his father’s throne? And what if Ulysses returns after 20 years’ absence?

The distribution company (100% Distribution) has a teaser which suggests this might be not bad:

… in case it doesn’t come up, here’s the page whence it came …

More Evidence of Romans in India

A tantalizing incipit from a piece in the Times of India:

A team of archeologists have excavated Roman silver coins at Anuvanahalli in Tarikere taluk in Chikmagalur.

It is now believed that the Romans might have tried to trade in medicinal plants which were found abundantly in the region given that the site looks like a herbal medicine preparation plant. A team of experts are working on the site focusing on the possible reasons for the Romans’ interest in the area. The team led by N S Rangaraju, professor of ancient history and archaeology, the University of Mysore, commenced the project with the funding from the UGC and excavated many items that date back to prehistoric, neolithic and megalithic cultures.

“During the excavation at Anuvanahalli, we have excavated four Roman coins. A few Roman pottery pieces have also been unearthed from the site,” Rangaraju said on Saturday.

The team also got many stone weights in different sizes and shapes. “This is leading us to believe that this site might have been used as herbal medicine preparation centre during the Shatavahana period. A team comprising retired IFS officer D R Ramesh Singh, biochemistry professor Vishwanath and botany professor Ganeshaiah has visited the site and research is on,” he told reporters at the excavation site.

Given the evidences, it can be argued that Chikmagalur district, which was famous for medicinal plants, might have attracted the Romans to trade in herbal medicines. This is the first time in hundred years that Roman coins have been found in Karnataka. The last time they were excavated was in 1909 at Chandravalli, he said. [...]

It would be nice if they had a bit more detail on the coins — the Shatavahana period is rather lengthy (230 B.C. to 220 A.D. or thereabouts). Some of our previous coverage of news relating to Roman finds in India:

see also: Indian Artifacts from Berenike? and the links contained therein.

Socrates on Trial Redux Redux

Speaking of courts, we probably should catch up with that retrial of Socrates we mentioned as being about to happen earlier this week (Socrates Going on Trial Again). The retrial received rather scant  media coverage and, as usually happens in these things, Socrates was found not guilty. Here’s the incipit of the AFP coverage:

Judges narrowly acquitted Socrates, the philosopher whose teachings earned him a death sentence in ancient Athens, in a retrial Friday billed as a lesson for modern times of revolution and crisis.

Socrates spoke himself at his trial in the fourth century BC, but this time in his absence, a panel of 10 US and European judges heard pleas by top Greek and foreign lawyers at the event at the Onassis Foundation in Athens.

Judges then voted on whether he was guilty on the ancient charges of evil-doing, impiety and corrupting the young.

In 399 BC, Socrates was made to die by drinking hemlock poison after being convicted by a jury of hundreds of Athenians. Unrepentant, he had insulted the judges at his trial and cheekily asked to be rewarded for his actions.

The modern judges spared him that dishonour this time, with an even vote — five guilty and five not guilty, meaning that under ancient Athenian law he was not convicted.

Socrates’ method of sceptical inquiry, preserved by his disciple Plato and other ancient authors, questioned conventional wisdom on sensitive notions of politics, religion and morality and earned him powerful enemies.

He was branded an enemy of democracy, accused of treason in favour of the Spartan enemy, and of influencing a violent uprising against the Athenian republic by a group of oligarchs that included some of his pupils.

“Socrates comes before us feigning humility, yet demonstrating arrogance,” said Loretta Preska, a New York district judge who presided at Friday’s trial and voted to convict him.

“He is a dangerous subversive.”

Pleading earlier in Socrates’ defence, prominent French lawyer Patrick Simon said: “An opinion is not a crime. Socrates was searching for the truth.

He added: “My client has one fault: he likes to poke fun and is fiercely ironic. By acquitting him, you will show how solid and reliable democracy is.”

Versed in Socratic literature, the legal brains came from Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Switzerland and the United States.

“In order not to complicate this trial unnecessarily, penalty will not be decided,” Preska said. The prosecution and judges who voted to convict said they did not favour the death penalty.

At an earlier enactment of the trial in New York last year, Socrates was likewise acquitted. [...]

via: Socrates acquitted in ancient trial re-run (AFP via Google)

Derivatives of AFP’s coverage:

The link on the Onassis Cultural Center’s page for the event seems to suggest the trial took six hours, but it doesn’t appear they actually recorded it (alas). There is a list there of the folks involved and the vote tallies … If you’re interested in last year’s version (also an Onassis Foundation thing): Socrates Retried Redux … In case you haven’t watched it yet, Andrew Irvine’s production of a reenactment is still definitely worth a look (Socrates on Trial) as is UM-KC’s page on the ‘famous trial’, although in the latter’s case, the heavily-I.F. Stone -dependent-view should probably be tempered with that of Paul Cartledge (Socrates Had it Coming).

Classical Courts

In a strange bit of synchronicity, my spiders this week seem to have found several examples of the Classical World making appearances in American courtrooms. Earlier this week we mentioned a decision wherein justices decided (while citing Robert Fagles!) that  translation is not interpretation (Honored Justices, We Respectfully Disagree). Next, they brought back an abridged version of some legal paper involving Prometheus Labs, which appropriately opened thusly:

Then beneath the earth those hidden blessings for man, bronze, iron, silver and gold—who can claim to have discovered before me? No one, I am sure, who wants to speak to the purpose. In one short sentence understand it all: every art of mankind comes from Prometheus.

—Aeschylus (generally attributed) 1

On July 29, 2011, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit handed down the long-awaited decision in Association of Molecular Pathology v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (AMP v. USPTO or Myriad I) 2 upholding the patentability of claims on isolated human genes 3 in a 2–1 decision that has provoked a petition to rehear the case en banc, 4 which was denied. 5 Subsequently, a Supreme Court petition for certiorari was filed, 6 which the high court recently granted, vacated, and remanded (GVRed) in Ass’n of Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. (Myriad II) 7 in light of their recent decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. (Prometheus). 8 [...]

Then this morning, the incipit of an opinion piece in the Inquirer (not sure which one):

In every telling of Trojan War stories from Homer to Hollywood, Agamemnon is depicted as a jerk: cruel, small-minded and rude. That should have made him an inconsequential character in a saga of heroic mortals and spiteful gods but for the awesome power of his position as supreme commander of the Greek armies. It’s his hubris—plain yabang—that is a companion vice to small minds, that drives the narrative of that magnificent tale.

He takes as war prize the daughter of Apollo’s priest in Troy so the god sends a plague to his armies. He returns her to her father and takes for himself the war prize of his greatest warrior, the half-god Achilles, who then refuses to fight anymore so the Trojans keep kicking their butt in battle after battle. Even before his armies sail for Troy, he slays a sacred stag and boasts that he is a better hunter than Artemis, so the goddess withdraws the winds from the seas, disabling their thousand ships.

To appease Artemis, Agamemnon slays his own daughter in sacrifice.

It’s mind-boggling how awful the suffering can be when brought on by awesome power in the hands of a jerk. But it’s also heartwarming that such suffering can bring out the valor in mortals: in the warriors Ajax and Diomedes and Patroclus, of course, but more so, if also heartrending, in the jerk’s own daughter, Iphigenia.

She is summoned by Agamemnon on the pretext of being wed to Achilles. When she discovers the deception, she agrees to die by his hand at the altar of the goddess he has offended. To save him from the wrath of his own generals, whose quest to redeem the honor of Greece is being frustrated by his transgression. To save Achilles, whose own sense of honor compels him to protect her to the death. And for the honor of Greece: “I forbid you to shed tears. I come to bring the Greeks salvation and victory,” she says to her mother in Euripides’ scintillating play, “Iphigenia at Aulis.”

Such is the nobility of the daughter of a jerk.

A week or so ago, in the saga titled “Chief Justice on Trial,” I think I saw Iphigenia’s valor in the defendant’s daughter, Carla Corona-Castillo. Quezon City Sheriff Joseph Bisnar, a witness Corona’s lawyers presented in his defense, declared under oath that she had acquired 90-percent ownership of a corporation established by relatives on her mother’s side. In an auction conducted nine years ago, with her as the only bidder, of shares owned by the surviving heirs, her own cousins, who only learned about it from Bisnar’s testimony. Her winning bid was P28,000. At the time of the transaction, the corporation had over P34 million in cash—proceeds from the sale of a property her great grandparents had acquired and bequeathed to ALL their children. [...]

Not sure why there’s been this sudden ‘outburst’ of Classicalia in the courts … maybe my spiders have just suddenly woken up to its existence?

Classical Words of the Day:

… latinitas:

… the Greek side:

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem vi kalendas junias

ante diem vi kalendas junias

Head of Geta boy, son of Septimius Serverus, c...

Head of Geta boy, son of Septimius Serverus, ca. 200 CE. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

189 A.D. — birth of P. Septimius Geta, son of the emperor-to-be Septimius Severus and Julia Domna and brother of the emperor-to-be Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla)
270 A.D. — martyrdom of Restituta at Sora (?)
302 A.D. — Martyrdom of Julius at Durostorum
1265 — birth of Dante Alighieri