Ludus Magnus

A Globe and Mail writer attended ‘gladiator school’ … here’s the incipit of a lengthy piece:

I am clad in a scratchy tunic and sandals, wielding a sword that weighs as much as a small child and peering through the visor of a helmet that threatens to smother me under the Hades-hot Roman sun. The mosquitoes are feasting on my ankles, but worse, somewhere out there, in the segment of my vision that is blocked by the helmet, my opponent waits to lunge. Such are the trials of a gladiator wannabe.

I am here, at Ludus Magnus – gladiator school – largely because my 14-year-old son, Ben, and I share a fascination with the ancient Romans. It began when I was looking for a way to get Ben to move beyond his continuing obsession with Harry Potter to some new reading material. I hit upon British writer Conn Iggulden’s four-book series on Julius Caesar. Ben ate it up … and so did I.

Gladiator school was intended to be a more hands-on activity for Ben, to offset the boredom of being forced to view priceless art and ancient stone piles while on a family trip to Rome.

Gladiator school is usually a day-long session, but we’ve talked Giorgio Franchetti, the school’s founder, into doing a special two-hour class for us. The big bluff Italian played at Romans v. Gauls as a kid, sparring with sticks and wooden swords. That interest in the centurions and gladiators of ancient times grew as he got older. He began to follow up on archeological digs, talk to scholars and read everything he could get his hands on about the early fighters.

There seems to be more than one ‘gladiator school’ operating in Rome, but it’s difficult to tell (maybe just the folks in charge are changing) … we reported on one last year and Tony Perrottet attended one the year before that (possibly the same one) … this one is possibly the same too ..

A Defense of Scholarship

Peter Green (emeritus, UTexas at Austin) has a lengthy review of Anthony Grafton, Worlds Made By Words and Roger H. Martin, Racing Odysseus in the Times of London. Here’s my favourite paragraph (with favourite sentence highlighted):

More immediately accessible is a vigorous (and to me very welcome) defence of humanist Latin as a still-viable scholarly lingua franca, launched as part of Grafton’s enthusiastic welcome to the initial volumes of the I Tatti Renaissance Library. As an instrument, it had to break away from the very different liturgical, legal and medical Latin of the Middle Ages; and this it triumphantly did, against considerable opposition, becoming “a revived classical language, purist and discriminating”, based on a close verbal familiarity, almost inconceivable today, with the major poets and prose writers of Republican and Augustan Rome (the Flemish philologist Justus Lipsius “offered to recite the text of Tacitus with a knife held to his throat, to be plunged in if he made a mistake”). Armed with this powerful scholarly vox generalis, Petrarch, Boccaccio and others set about retrieving the culture that had first employed it. They hunted down the manuscripts of lost texts. They practised ancient genres long forgotten: epic, history, epistolography (Maffeo Vegio added an elegantly pastiched thirteenth book, complete with happy ending, to Virgil’s Aeneid). They promoted the secular teaching of classics, encouraged the making of classical libraries, got classicists into key positions as ambassadors and administrators. Their Latin works were admired and imitated by writers from Sir Thomas Browne to Samuel Johnson.

    I’ve heard/read the Lipsius anecdote before … anyone know whence it comes? I’ve never been able to track it down …

  • Google Books or Great Books?

More Gladiator Fashion?

From the Mirror’s celebrity gossip pages:

Lindsay Lohan looks like an extra from the blockbuster movie Gladiator as she strides through LA in knee-high black sandal boots.

Perhaps ancient Roman is the latest trend or maybe she wants a patterned tan on her legs.

Beyonce looks even happier in strappy pumps and nephew Daniel seems to holey approve of her style.

His My Aunty Rocks T-shirt says it all.

If Ridley Scott is planning a Gladiator 2 he knows where to go for his female leads.

Oddly, the Mirror doesn’t include any photos … Shudoo comes through, though:

Shudoo photo
Shudoo photo

Not sure we can call those things ‘gladiator-style’ … you can decide for yourself if they are reminiscent of the gladiators on the Zliten mosaic:

Wikimedia Photo
Wikimedia Photo

Another Arthur Link?

From a press release via Earthtimes:

Researcher David Xavier Kenney discovered the inscriptions on the 2nd to 3rd century artifact which was found on a hilltop in Norfolk County, England and is part of his collection.

Among the revelations on the lance head (or contos head) is that the real King Arthur may have been Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Carausius, a 3rd century Belgic sailor from humble origins who rose up through the ranks to eventually become a Rogue Emperor of Rome.

The contos was a victory votive to the Romano Celtic war/sword god Mars Camulos and Carausius, who undoubtedly identified himself with this god, based on coins he minted and evidenced on the contos. The Roman settlement of Camulodunum (modern Colchester), named after Camulos, is widely thought to be the origin of Medieval writers’ Camelot.

Carausius strove to become a people’s hero of Britain and Northern Gaul when he rebelled against the co-Emperor Maximian, who ordered his execution after he was accused of keeping seized pirate booty. Backed by his Roman legions, he proclaimed himself another co-emperor. Three years later in 293 AD Carausius was assassinated by his finance minister.

The war/sword god Camulos’ primary center of Celtic worship was with the Remi, a Belgic tribe. Based on contos inscriptions Camulos appears to be connected to a previously unknown Belgic agricultural/fertility bear god of the northern constellations and its related symbols, including a pagan type grail cup, magical blade weapons, meteorites, magnetic north, and the seasons named Artor. The sword in the stone shown on the contos has a connection to an elite Roman Parazonium (ceremonial short sword).

According to Kenney, inscriptions show the primary aspect of Artor is a force associated with breaking through or beginnings, including spring and the dawn. Other artifacts show that this bear war/sword god in some form can be seen across ancient Europe and Asia as far east as ancient China, particularly in the northern regions.

… the author has more to say at his webpage … personally, I don’t see most of the stuff he’s seeing on this; your mileage may vary (but I doubt it) …