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Dunciad Book II 1760 illustration, showing the...
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Scripsit Gary Dexter in the Telegraph:

The Iliad got its title because the ancient name for Troy was ‘Ilion’, and the suffix -ad tended to denote poems. So far, so straightforward. For 25 centuries this cornerstone of western culture remained largely untampered-with – and then along came Alexander Pope. With his Dunciad, a mock-heroic polemic against ‘Dulness’, he unleashed a literary frenzy. Imitators produced Thespiads, Scribleriads, Rosciads, and Dorriads. There were epic poems in praise or damnation of a particular activity, such as the Golfiad, Chessiad, Beeriad, or Ballooniad; of particular places, such as the Indiad, Hiberniad, Helvetiad, and with marvellous bathos, Sudburiad; or of particular persons, such as the Pittiad, Hamiltoniad, and (most ridiculously) the Sarah-ad, in reference to the Duchess of Marlborough. One of 1874 perhaps sums up the genre: it was the political satire The Siliad, by Grenville Murray.

via Title Deed: How the Book Got its Name | Telegraph.

Interesting bit, but a minor quibble on the 25 centuries thing … I believe (and correct me if I’m wrong, please) that this supposed ‘suffix -ad’ thing is sort of glossing over the fact that we’re dealing with the Latin genitive form of Ilias (which is what the poem is referred to in Greek), which would cut a few centuries off that 25 on its own and technically ‘Iliad’ wasn’t used as a ‘title’ per se (i.e. ‘the Iliad) until Renaissance times … so five or six centuries, tops, no? Outside of that, I’ve always wondered why ‘The Odyssey’ and not something like ‘Odysseid’ …

Unvirtuous Virtus in Virginia?

Image by themaxsons via Flickr

The incipit of a piece from the Pilot:

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli apparently isn’t fond of wardrobe malfunctions, even when Virginia’s state seal is involved.

The seal depicts the Roman goddess Virtus, or virtue, wearing a blue tunic draped over one shoulder, her left breast exposed. But on the new lapel pins Cuccinelli recently handed out to his staff, Virtus’ bosom is covered by an armored breastplate.

When the new design came up at a staff meeting, workers in attendance said Cuccinelli joked that it converts a risqué image into a PG one.

The joke might be on him, said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.

“When you ask to be ridiculed, it usually happens. And it will happen here, nationally,” he said. “This is classical art, for goodness’ sake.”

via Cuccinelli opts for more modest state seal | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com.

… I seem to recall a similar ‘revesting’ of some divinity on some state or city seal or crest a while ago, but can’t seem to retrieve it from memory or search engine … personally, I find it rather more interesting that Virtus might be depicted as an Amazonish figure, trampling the tyrant ‘semper sicced’ — the Wikipedia page on the seal (which features some other Roman divinities on the reverse) is one of those ones which has a ‘not appropriate tone’ warning, but it’s an interesting description of all that’s going on in the seal. Whatever the case, the Pilot article has a picture of the  ‘more modest’ Virtus depiction.

UPDATE (a few days later): Cucinelli backed down on his proposal:

Ancient Drama ‘In an Hour’

Here’s an interesting tidbit:

The publishing house Smith & Kraus perhaps has the answer. It has recently launched a series titled “Playwrights in an Hour” that consists of 27 slim volumes dedicated to different dramatists. The series — a kind of Red Bull for theater buffs — covers Western writers from Shakespeare and Moliere to August Wilson and Theresa Rebeck.
Authored by a diverse group of academics and theater professionals, “Playwrights in an Hour” is intended to offer readers a “a brief, highly focused accounting of the playwright’s life and work,” writes the late UCLA drama professor Carl Mueller, who penned some of the volumes.
>Each book contains a 30- to 40-page essay covering the highlights of the playwright’s life and situating his or her works in a biographical context. The essay is followed by excerpts from notable plays in the writer’s body of work.  […]

via A new cheatsheet for theater buffs | Los Angeles Times.

Zipping over to S&K’s website, we note that the volumes for Euripides, Aeschylus, Aristophanes, and Sophocles are now available. Here’s the blurb, e.g., from the Aeschylus page:

A thirty-five-year-old Aeschylus enlisted in the Athenian army and fought in the battle of Marathon (490 BCE) and Salamis (480 BCE). These battles were not only the prelude to Athenian military hegemony in the region but also to Athenian cultural dominance. Aeschylus himself would be part of that cultural revolution. Writing the great masterpiece, Oresteia, he took up a theme that first dawned on him at Salamis: the deep wisdom of the eternal justice which rules the world, as Thucydides wrote.

Setting the playwright in context to his personal life, social, historical and political events, other writers of influence, and more, you will quickly gain a deep understanding of Aeschylus and the plays he wrote. Read Aeschylus in an Hour and experience his plays like never before. Know the playwright, love the play!

Potentially useful in a first- or second-year class?

Also Seen: Florida Marlins Classics (?)

FWIW … the Marlins are a baseball team, but I suspect the conversation mentioned below is not confined to athletic contexts:

And John Baker once played William Wallace in an Albequerque Isotopes’ remake of Braveheart (oh, you’ll find it worth watching), though that isn’t all: he also enjoyed Greek philosopher Plato‘s bookRepublic over the weekend in Denver, which prompted the following hilarious conversation reported by Clark Spencer:

“It reminds me of college, when people are like hammered and arguing…It’s amazing that this is written in the fourth century B.C., because it just sounds normal, like normal arguments. Is it better to be selfish and look out for yourself, and make sure all your stuff is taken care of? Or is it better to do right by your fellow human beings? And that’s what the first book is about.

“Plato, via Socrates, argues that it’s better to be just than unjust. And the other guy argues that it doesn’t matter. Unjust is stronger than the just, that just people are weaker.”

At this point in the conversation, Wes Helms walks past, gives Baker the look, and wants to know “what the heck” Baker is talking about.

Helms: “I don’t read books.”

Baker: “I’m reading Plato.”

Helms (assuming Baker meant “Play Doh”): “I played with that when I was a kid.”

via Wes Helms Cares Not For Your Ancient Greek Philosophy | NBC Miami.