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.

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).