I’ve been hemming and hawing about including this, but might as well … excerpts from the Telegraph:
If you have a penchant for Homeric poems, Chanel or swimming – or preferably all three, then book your summer break at Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo where the eclectic trio have pooled for a mural-style installation.
Karl Lagerfeld, head designer and creative director for Chanel, was chosen by the hotel – which won “Best Hotel in the World 2010″ – to create a unique poolside piece, named “Ulysses’ Journey around the Mediterranean Sea”, inspired by Homer’s epics: the Iliad and the Odyssey .
“We were not only thinking about Odyssey as a place to swim and tan, but rather as a living space.”
Lagerfeld’s bespoke installation is made up of twenty panels, measuring 18×3 metres, in which photos of models in togas are superimposed onto black and white images of Greek coastlines from 1850-60. The scenes are backlit by LEDs which change according to the surrounding natural lighting which adds to the intimate atmosphere and ambience.
- via: Karl Lagerfeld’s hotel mural sideline(Telegraph)
… I was unable to find a better photo than the small one included with the original article … probably because my brain was still cringing from that toga reference …
Tip o’ the pileus to Liz Gloyn who alerted us to this (currently streamed online only) ‘album’ by the Mechanisms:
… it has a folky sort of sound to it, but tells a good chunk of Odysseus’ story …
From the New York Review of Books:
On February 5, The New York Review celebrated its 50th anniversary at Town Hall in New York City. In this recording from the event, Mary Beard discusses the Review’s coverage of the classics from its first issue through to the present day, and the “inextricable embeddedness of the classical tradition within Western culture.”
The audio is here:
There’s an interesting post at Gizmodo that keeps popping up in my various feeds about the whether the ancient Romans were capable of building a digital computer … some interesting stuff and the author admits being a computer engineer and not a Roman historian. Still, he’s dying to experiment and throws down a challenge which some readers of rogueclassicism may want to take up:
… and in an interesting bit of synchronicity, a review from Aestimatio landed in my mailbox today of Ancient Computers: Part I. Rediscovery by Stephen Kent Stephenson …
From time to time my spiders bring back strange things, most of the time involving people I haven’t heard of and/or were only vaguely aware of. So this time they brought back and item from Digital Spy, citing an interview in Metro with Alain de Botton, who appears to be an atheist who has penned some influential books. Inter alia:
Are you friends with Harry from One Direction?
That would be overegging it. I was introduced to him at a party. Neither of us had heard of each other. We had a nice chat. It was fun.
Did you have much in common?
My plan is to shut the Arts Council and get people such as Harry Styles to go on television and recommend to everyone they read Proust and Hegel, which would achieve more in five minutes than the Arts Council achieves year in, year out. David Beckham could do Aristotle and Plato. The cause of intellectual life in this country would be helped immeasurably. The problem we’ve got is the most famous people in the country tend to believe in things that aren’t particularly ambitious whereas the people who believe in really ambitious things are stuck away in an ivory tower and no one bothers listening to what they think. In an ideal world Harry Styles would be teaching his 10million Twitter followers a little more about Greek philosophy.
Then from Digital Spy we learn that Harry Styles actually took up the suggestion:
Socrates, born in Athens in the 5th century BCE, marks a watershed in Ancient Greek philosophy.—
Harry Styles (@Harry_Styles) February 13, 2013
… which, as Digital Spy notes, is cribbed directly from Wikipedia … we might cynically observe that a Diogenes might mark a watershed in a different sort of way (horrible puns abound!) … anyhoo, I think it would be more impressive if he tweeted something Plato put in Socrates’ mouth … in Greek.
The Telegraph has a top ten list of “vicious literary hatchet jobs” and coming in at number one is one which might be familiar to y’all:
1. Aristophanes on Euripides (405 BC)
Just a year after the death of the celebrated tragedian, Aristophanes ignored all warnings never to speak ill of the dead, and savaged Euripides in his comedy The Frogs.
As the play draws to an end, Euripides is pitted against Aeschylus in a war of wits. The prize: a route out of the underworld. Predictably, Aristophanes pours scorn on Euripides and Aeschylus emerges the victor.
ÆSCHYLUS: “Hah! sayest thou so, child of the garden quean! And this to me, thou chattery-babble-collector, Thou pauper-creating rags-and-patches-stitcher?”
ÆSCHYLUS: “My poetry survived me: his died with him.”
- Top 10 vicious literary hatchet jobs (Telegraph)
Very interesting post at the New Yorker‘s Culture Desk by Melissa Lane … here’s a bit in medias res:
The pioneers of citizen armies were also pioneers of withdrawing weapons from the places of civilized life. The ancient Greek armies were manned exclusively by citizens who brought their own weapons into battle. Getting to serve in an élite combat unit required being wealthy enough to afford to buy one’s own armor. It was this vision of citizen militias, further developed by the Romans, that went on to inspire the English revolutionaries of the seventeenth century and the American revolutionaries of the eighteenth—so shaping the values expressed in the Second Amendment.
Nevertheless, when one early-nineteenth-century American reflected on what the new American Republic could learn from the ancient Greeks, he drew attention to another feature that was widespread in their politics: refraining from carrying weapons in public spaces. In some cities, this was a matter of custom, in others it was a matter of law. Citizens carried their weapons abroad when serving in the military for public defense. But, even in these cities, it was believed that carrying weapons at home would be tantamount to letting weapons, not laws, rule.
This point is emphasized in a study of ancient-Greek laws attributed to Benjamin Franklin, though apparently composed by the founding editor of the Western Minerva, who published it in 1820. The laws, the author insisted, “apply with peculiar energy and propriety to the circumstances of the United States.” Number fifteen in this collection of a hundred “principles of political wisdom,” drawn from the school of Pythagoras, legislators for Greek settlements on the Italian mainland, was this: “Let the laws rule alone. When weapons rule, they kill the law.”
This is the opposite of the view attributed to the Founding Fathers by the N.R.A.’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, in 2009, when he said that “our founding fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules.” On the contrary, letting the guys with weapons make the rules of ordinary life was the opposite of the classical practices that inspired the American founders. Writing of the evolution of Greek societies in the first book of his “History of the Peloponnesian War,” the Greek historian Thucydides reported that the Athenians were the first to lay aside their weapons. Whereas men in all Greek societies used to carry arms at home, this had been a sign of an uncivilized era of piracy in which the most powerful men could dominate all the rest. Laying aside the everyday wearing of weapons was part of what Thucydides believed had allowed Athens to become fully civilized, developing the commerce and culture that made her the envy of the Greek world. The Romans, too, banned the carrying of weapons within the pomerium, the sacred boundary of the city.
The banning of carrying weapons in public was based on the idea that civilized coexistence could not tolerate public spaces that were dominated by those wearing weapons, on pain of intimidating those around them. Apart from the physical risks posed, such intimidation would inherently undermine civic equality. It is hard for the unarmed to argue with the armed. Key to civil society was that citizen-warriors put their weapons in storage when they returned to everyday social and political life.
- via: How the Greeks Viewed Weapons (New Yorker)
… definitely worth reading the whole thing. I suspect this question comes up frequently in Classical Civ type classes …
I’ll just post the headline/link to this one because I’m not sure if it’s a blog or what … some good points:
Over at io9 there’s a (tongue-in-cheek) rant appealing for a return to the Greek pantheon, for various reasons … it sparked a bit of discussion on the Classics list, so you might want to check it out:
From Business Insider:
Despite the recent spate of gun violence to grip the city, some of Chicago’s top attorneys plan to spend their time arguing a 2,400-year-old free speech case.
Dan Webb of Winston and Strawn and Robert Clifford, the former chair of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation will represent Socrates Jan. 31 in the Windy City while former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will represent the city of Athens, Greece, The ABA Journal reported Wednesday.
The Chicago lawyers are taking a stab at the trial and re-trying the case as part of a fundraiser for the National Hellenic Museum.
Socrates, a famed philosopher, was tried and executed in Athens in 399 B.C.E. after city leaders became upset with his teachings and the effect they were having on society, according to the University of Missouri Kansas City.
Officially, Socrates was charged with refusing to recognize the gods, introducing new divinities, and corrupting the youth.
Back in 2009, Cambridge University Professor Paul Cartledge decided the trial was legally justified and Socrates was guilty of the charges, The Telegraph reported at the time.
Judge Richard Posner, most famous for his ongoing criticism of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, will preside over the trial, according to the Chicago Reader.
- via: A Former U.S. Attorney Is Heading To Court To Solve Ancient Greece’s Most Legendary Death (Business Insider)
If you want to attend: Trial of Socrates
As can be seen in the article, this sort of thing has been done before. Here’s our previous coverage of such events:
- Socrates on Trial Redux Redux (May 2012 in Athens; found not guilty)
- Socrates Retried Redux (May 2011 in New York; found not guilty)
A somewhat strange bit of synchonicity or something like it has been going on over the past few weeks in regards to assorted politicos/people in power resorting to some sort of ‘consul’ type form of leadership in which two people share power. The example was sent to us via amicus noster John McMahon (tips of the pileus ensue, of course) and described the situation which just went into effect in New York state. Here’s a taste of the media coverage:
Hopefully, they won’t become New York State’s version of Julius Caesar and Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus.
Come Jan. 1, Sens. Dean G. Skelos, a Republican from Long Island, and Jeffrey D. Klein, a Democrat from the Bronx, will embark on dual leadership to run the State Senate, the first time anything like that has been attempted in New York.
The two senators would do well to heed the lessons from Caesar and Bibulus during their time as Roman consuls – or co-leaders – in 59 B.C.
Let’s just say it didn’t go well, at least for Bibulus. In one of the nastier disputes with Caesar and his backers, Bibulus found himself beaten up and covered in feces by an angry crowd. Bibulus didn’t even complete his one-year term as consul, and he later went on to oppose Caesar in a civil war.
Albany may not be ancient Rome, and Skelos and Klein, unlike Caesar and Bibulus, insist they are allies. But in the days since Skelos and Klein hatched their deal, many experts across the country have been scratching their heads about the plan to keep Republicans in partial control of the Senate by sharing power with five breakaway Democrats.
Their agreement stipulates that Skelos will hold the title of temporary president of the Senate for 14 days and then give the title over to Klein for 14 days. And then back and forth it will go all next year.
“I don’t know how New York State got to the place it is,” said Ronald J. Mellor, distinguished professor of history and a Roman history scholar at the University of California at Los Angeles, when told about the power-sharing deal Skelos and Klein devised.
New York got to this place because Republicans did not win enough seats last month to keep control of the Senate, so they needed the help of the Klein-led Independent Democratic Conference to prevent Democrats from seizing control.
Experts say coalition governments – in other states, over the decades, or places such as Israel and Italy – have occurred. But they can often be forced, when there is a tie between Democrats and Republicans in a legislative body. That is not the case here. And dual leaderships are not unique.
But a coalition government and dual leadership at the same time?
“That’s absolutely unique,” said Timothy B. Storey, an election law analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.
There have been dual leaderships to run an entire government or branch of government, according to scholars of international and United States legislative bodies. Many have come in response to authoritarian rulers, such as Rome’s approach to dual leadership that began in about 500 B.C.
Most, though, don’t last nearly as long as the Rome experiment, and most are merely transitional deals in which one individual, despite the theory of dual leadership, has far more power.
And the notion of switching power every 14 days?
“I’ve never heard of it,” said Ruth Wedgwood, an expert in international law and diplomacy at the Washington-based School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
There are some current examples of dual leadership in the world, but they are far-flung and don’t come close to the idea of flipping leadership titles every two weeks.
Kim Lane Scheppele, director of the law and public affairs program at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, cited some examples in which opposing political parties are able to check the power of those controlling a government through rotating leadership positions. But most involve areas of domestic spying, she said.
In the German Parliament, she noted, the G10 Committee reviews domestic surveillance matters; the rules mandate that the chairmanship rotate every six months.
In the Hungarian Parliament, membership of the National Security Committee, which reviews domestic security matters, must rotate every 10 months.
Mellor, the UCLA Roman history expert, said the Romans moved to dual-leadership titles – consuls – when an emperor was expelled in 509 B.C. The consuls, who mainly served as chairmen of the Senate, could veto each other’s decisions.
“It was a way of ensuring there not be a tyrannical government. Of course, this made for chaos sometimes,” he noted.
Often, the two consuls would end up being in charge of different functions: one the army in the field, the other the ministerial duties in Rome.
During times of crisis, the two could appoint a dictator who could hold complete power – but generally for no more than six months – over matters such as a military operation.
With some notable exceptions, the dual leadership in Roman times was effective for long periods of time, but chiefly because of the consul structure, which featured one-year term limits, Mellor said. [...]
- via: Doing what Romans did puts Albany in new world of power-sharing (Buffalo News)
Meanwhile, down the road in Toronto, the mayor thereof (Rob Ford) has all sorts of problems legal-wise and possibly could lose his position. The Daily Brew then mentioned that dual mayorship situation might be in the offing as well:
If Rob Ford loses his appeal to remain mayor of Toronto, what would you think of two co-mayors holding the spot until the 2014 election? That is one of the latest solutions raised at city hall, where rumblings continue about how the city would proceed should Ford be ousted from office sometime in thee new year. [...] Coun. Paula Fletcher raised the idea of appointing co-mayors as a way to appease both sides of the split council. [...]
- via: Are two heads better than none? Ideas on replacing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (Daily Brew via Yahoo)
… haven’t heard anything more since that piece, however, and I doubt whether anyone in the Canadian media will make the Classical connections. In either case it would be interesting to see how it works in practice … could set a precedent for change of some sort. We’ll monitor developments …
We haven’t read claims of the Roman origins of toasting — especially that once-common, and spurious, claim about putting a piece of burnt bread in wine to make it taste better — for a while, but it seems that the latter-day mythologizers persist in wanting to somehow connect toasting to the Romans. The latest is a piece at NPR (for shame) which has a couple of questionable (perhaps) claims:
“There’s a thin line between history and folklore,” says historian Paul Dickson. He should know. He wrote a book about toasting called Toasts: Over 1,500 of the Best Toasts, Sentiments, Blessings and Graces. “But toasting definitely goes back to the ancient world.”
Ulysses drank to the health of Achilles in The Odyssey, he says. And in Rome, drinking to someone’s health was so important that the Senate demanded that all diners drink to their emperor, Augustus, before every meal.
… thin line indeed, and it seems to be crossed here. Near as I can tell, Achilles’ only appearance in the Odyssey is in book 11 and it’s as a shade of the dead. There is no toasting by Odysseus (why is he always Ulysses in US newspapers) … does Achilles appear elsewhere in a toast-worthy situation? As for the drinking to Augustus, I’d love to hear a source for that … so vague as to be meaningless and if thought about for even a few seconds, it makes no sense (enforceable? penalties? What about folks who couldn’t afford wine with their meal? Did it apply to drunks in tabernae?).
If you’re wondering about the ‘burnt toast’ thing:
This one has been making the rounds as well and I’ve just had a chance to listen … the sound is very 1980s, kind of like Pet Shop Boys meets New Order … half way through, the voice conjugates amare (but pronounces ‘v’ as ‘v’) … still an interesting listen:
… reading though the comments I see folks mentioning Neoplatonism and the like, but I don’t quite see/hear it.
Latest from the Classics Confidential folks:
… for more info on Ancient Civilizations in Silent Cinema
Well since Wishbone’s version of the Aeneid was so popular last week (to judge by responses in various fora), here’s the Iliad/Odyssey interpretation by the little Jack Russell:
Ages ago I can remember several discussions on the Latinteach list that the Aeneid episode of Wishbone was difficult to find … I don’t know if it’s still in that category, but in case it is and/or in case you don’t know the show, here it is in three parts:
Tip o’ the pileus to Virginia Knight who sent in a piece from the Guardian about the first acts of Bristol’s newly-elected mayor … right at the end, we read:
[...] Ferguson completed his speech by asking everyone present to join him as he took the oath made by young men of Athens when they became citizens: “I shall not leave this city any less but rather greater than I found it.”
- via: Mayor to take salary in Bristol pounds (Guardian)
If you’re wondering about the ‘full’ oath, it’s Lycurgus’ Against Leontines … Wikipedia is actually rather good with this one.
From the Greenwich Citizen:
… we’ve mentioned Dr Schwab’s work with ancient coifs before:
… and here (with further links):
Okay, this one was making the rounds of my twitterfeed yesterday, but I’m not going to say whence I got it because there’s something fishy going on … anyhoo, this was purportedly the cover of the New York Post yesterday:
Outside of the obvious (to Classicists, at least) inconcinnity of the image (to which we might at that Barack is supposedly the same word as Barca, which adds to the problem), which wouldn’t be out of the question for the Post, the cover does not appear in their cover archives today … perhaps it changed for the Late City Final edition?. Anyone know if this cover is legit?
UPDATE (a couple hours later): apparently they changed their mind: New York Post Thought Better of ‘Obama As Caesar’ Cover
Not sure how I found this yesterday, but Kotaku has a very interesting photo of Japanese popstar Kyary Pamyu Pamyu:
For fans of the ‘holding one’s hair to vomit’ look (which we’ve discussed in a Classical context as well), check this out:
Both photos via the fine folks at Kotaku …
Tip o’ the pileus to Terrence Lockyer for alerting us to a feature in the Guardian which seems to be hype for a documentary of some sort:
Tip o’ the pileus to Phoebe Acheson on twitter who alerted us to an article in the New York Times Magazine about rappers using twitter hashtags for inspiration and which also included this excerpt:
There has been some debate among musicians and critics about whether such hip-hop rhymes constitute cheating. But these critiques are absurd. A rhyme can be inane or inspired, whatever semantic relation it bears to the line it concludes. In fact, it’s the way the hashtag loosens those old semantic strictures that makes the form so appealing to wordsmiths. A poet friend of mine noted that, because of possibilities afforded by the hashtag, writing tweets “feels compositionally very akin to poetry. . . . You’re suspending things in relation to one another in an extremely complex form.”
The hashtag seems to her a distant cousin of the refrain: a phrase that relates in different, complex ways — direct or tangential, ironic or nonsensical — to the lines it follows. It also has something in common with parentheses, explaining or qualifying whatever phrase it interrupts. And where it captures the author’s mood or aspect, it resembles the epithet, the “white-armed Nausicaas” and “wine-dark seas” that populate the “Odyssey.” Yet the hashtag may well be a new rhetorical device in its own right. In the literary glossary that ranges from antimetabole to zeugma, there’s no term that exactly captures all that the hashtag is capable of.
- via: #InPraiseOfTheHashtag (NYT Magazine)
… now picturing Homer on his cellphone, doing the Iliad line-by-line, and every now and then doing the #winedarksea … we clearly need a Greek word for the hashtag; octothorp is halfway there, but we can do better I suspect. Suggestions?
In case you’re wondering what Mary Beard has been up to lately …. from the Independent:
The much-loved classicist Mary Beard continues to conquer the airwaves, this time as an advisor on Plebs, a new sitcom set in Ancient Rome.
“She’s given us a few pointers,” says Tom Basden, co-writer of the show, with Sam Leifer. “She’s interested in the normal, powerless city folk of Ancient Rome, the graffiti on toilet walls, that kind of thing.”
The six-part series, which will air on ITV2 in the Spring, follows the lives of three 20-something men who move to the big city to make their fortune and meet girls. Think The Inbetweeners in togas.
“The idea was to make the historical setting by-the-by and root it in modern concerns. We wanted to stay away from the clichés of camp silliness or austere classical actors,” says Basden, whose credits include Fresh Meat, Party on Radio 4 and There Is a War at the National Theatre. “Tonally, it’s much more Seinfeld than Up Pompeii.”
Tom Rosenthal (Friday Night Dinner) and Doon MacKichan star. As for the title, any echoes of a certain political scandal are purely fortuitous.
“We had the title for ages and we thought it was good but the Conservatives have done us a great favour in ensuring that every last man on the street now knows what it means,” says Basden.
- via: All hail ‘Plebs’ the classical sit-com with a title the Conservatives should recognise (Independent)
… wonder if it’ll make it to this side of the pond …