Attica Fires

Cross-posted from CSTS119

Wildfires, a frequent threat throughout Greece in the summer, are burning within sight of the Acropolis (Reuters).

Acropolis Fire

Firefighters have been battling fires throughout Attica, including near Marathon and Rhamnous. May the gain the upper hand soon.

UPDATE: According to the latest reports, the fires are being contained and so far have not caused any loss of life. Thankfully, this does not look to be a repeat of the devastating fires of 2007.

A Statue of Victory stands amid the embers of the blaze at Olympia, 2007 (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

A Statue of Victory stands amid the embers of the blaze at Olympia, 2007 (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

In this image released by NASA on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2007, fires in Greece are seen from space. Fires pushed by gale-force winds tore through more parched forests, swallowed villages and scorched the edges of Athens on Saturday with ashes raining onto the Acropolis. The death toll rose to at least 49 as the government declared a nationwide state of emergency. (AP Photo/NASA)

In this image released by NASA on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2007, fires in Greece are seen from space. Fires pushed by gale-force winds tore through more parched forests, swallowed villages and scorched the edges of Athens on Saturday with ashes raining onto the Acropolis. The death toll rose to at least 49 as the government declared a nationwide state of emergency. (AP Photo/NASA)

Jupiter Over Ephesus

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day provides a little Classical Content:

Jupiter Rising Over Ephesus

Wednesday Awesome: Chiklis goes to “Olympus”

Another actor to tackle the ancient world. This time Michael Chiklis (fresh from completing his spectacular run The Shield) (via Variety)

Thesp Michael Chiklis is launching a new take on Greek gods in the form of a comicbook: He’s partnered with IDW Publishing to create the graphic novel series “Olympus.”
Based on an idea by Anny Simon Beck, series will tell the story of ancient Greek gods who return to a ravaged, chaotic present-day Earth where they battle for the future of mankind against the Titans.

Trambopoline! As Homer would say (no, the other Homer)

Will Brad Pitt really take another stab at Homer…in a movie set in space?

Brad Pitt & George Miller Team on The Odyssey
Source: Variety October 17, 2008

After turning Homer’s epic poem “The Iliad” into the 2004 film Troy, Warner Bros. and Brad Pitt are teaming with George Miller to adapt the Greek poet’s other masterwork, “The Odyssey.”

I can’t tell if I should be excited or horrified, so in honor of the Simpsons neologism in this post’s title, I declare myself exictified at the prospect of this movie.

Their intention is to transfer the tale to a futuristic setting in outer space.

Variety says Warner Bros. has quietly set up The Odyssey, and the early hope is that Pitt will star and Miller will direct, with Pitt’s Plan B producing.

Both Homer poems dealt with the Trojan War; “The Odyssey” focused on the exploits of Odysseus, who hatched the idea to build the Trojan Horse. “The Odyssey” deals with his long journey home after he declines to become a god.

I can’t tell if I’m excited or horrified at the thought of this movie. So, in honor of the Simpsons neologism in the title of this post, I declared myself “excitified”.

Library Envy Alert!

library

This is not strictly classical, but I have a serious case of invidia bibliothecae for internet entrepreneur Jay Walker’s personal library:

Nothing quite prepares you for the culture shock of Jay Walker’s library. You exit the austere parlor of his New England home and pass through a hallway into the bibliographic equivalent of a Disney ride. Stuffed with landmark tomes and eye-grabbing historical objects—on the walls, on tables, standing on the floor—the room occupies about 3,600 square feet on three mazelike levels. Is that a Sputnik? (Yes.) Hey, those books appear to be bound in rubies. (They are.)

[read more…]

Visiting Troy

I just discovered (via rogueclassicism) this article in the New York Times on a visit to the site of ancient Troy.

troy

As it happened, our two-week visit to Turkey afforded a perfect moment to indulge our Homeric idée fixe. The trek north on Turkey’s west coast permitted a brief Trojan fly-by during the drive from Pergamum to Gallipoli.

Read more »

Hannibal Comix

Via rogueclassicism comes word of an on-line comic book treatment of Hannibal crossing the alps.

Most have heard the story of the Carthaginian general Hannibal leading elephants across the Alps to face the Romans. Writer Brendan McGinley wants you to see it.

“There’s already plenty of good prose about Hannibal, (but) no good visual medium for a story that crackles with so many unforgettable images, like elephants on the Alps or Mago Barca spilling dead Romans’ rings on the Senate floor,” he said. “Maybe Vin Diesel’s long-stalled film will change that; Victor Mature’s sure didn’t.”

McGinley and artist Mauro Vargas, along with colorist Andres Carranza, bring the Hannibal story to life — with some humorous asides — re-enacting the second Punic War on the Shadowline Web comics page, www.shadowlinecomics.com/webcomics.

[read more…]

Dining like the Romans did

The luxurious Roman cena is alive and well in… Singapore!

A 21st-century twist on the ancient Roman practice of reclining to eat, Supperclub has just opened a branch of its restaurant-cum-club in Singapore.

Setting: A dimly lit bar overlooks the legendary Raffles Hotel through red-tinted windows, contrasting sharply with the modern, all-white dining space, decked out with tables set in raised mattresses and large comfy cushions.

Concept: The three-hour five-course meal starts at about 8:30… [more]

McCaligula? (or Wikipedia-a-go-go)

Like Tacitus (sine ira et studio), I normally strive to keep this blog a partisanship-free zone, but Richard Cohen, in an op-ed about the selection of Sarah Palin, invokes a Classical exemplum worthy of note:

It’s a pity Gingrich was not around when the Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known by his nickname Caligula, reputedly named Incitatus as a consul and a priest. Incitatus was his horse.

Since I’m not a pundit but a professor, I will leave the politics to others and stick to the pedantic. I don’t think there is a “Julius” in Caligula’s nomenclature. As we can see from the coin below, Caligula (“little boots”) was named C(aius) CAES(ar) AUG(ustus) Germanicus. Lesson? If you are criticizing someone, probably best not to use wikipedia as your source…

caligula

The vignette about Incitatus appears in two sources: Suetonius’ Life of Caligua and Cassius Dio’s Roman History. In Suetonius, we hear about the desire to make Incitatus a consul:

He used to send his soldiers on the day before the games and order silence in the neighbourhood, to prevent the horse Incitatus101 from being disturbed. Besides a stall of marble, a manger of ivory, purple blankets and a collar of precious stones, he even gave this horse a house, a troop of slaves and furniture, for the more elegant entertainment of the guests invited in his name; and it is also said that he planned to make him consul.

Dio reveals the tidbit about the priesthood:

One of the horses, which he named Incitatus, he used to invite to dinner, where he would offer him golden barley and drink his health in wine from golden goblets; he swore by the animal’s life and fortune and even promised to appoint him consul, a promise that he would certainly have carried out if he had lived longer… He also consecrated himself to his own service and appointed his horse a fellow-priest; and dainty and expensive birds were sacrificed to him daily.

Now Caligula was by all accounts a monster (incest, senseless killings, debauchery–the usual “bad emperor” trifecta), although I always saw him as at least as much a figure of pity as scorn. Imagine you are the son of an incredibly popular political figure and war hero. You are sent to live with your weird, old uncle on a secluded island–by the way, everyone thinks your uncle had your father killed–during which time most of your remaining family are killed in various horrific ways. Then, when you are 25, said uncle dies and, with no experience at all, you are suddenly made the absolute ruler of the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world. Not a prescription for administrative success.

Date for Caesar’s Invasion Revised (a wee bit)

Fresh on the heels of the (somewhat dubious) attempt to fix the date of Odysseus’ return to Ithaca using astronomical information, comes this. Using details from Caesar’s Commentary and taking advantage of a fortuitous confluence of celestial events, scholars claim the traditional date of Caesar’s invasion of England should be slightly revised. The BBC reports:

Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain in 55BC could not have occurred on the dates stated in most history books, a team of astronomers have claimed. The traditional view is that Caesar landed in Britain on 26-27 August, but researchers from Texas State University say this cannot be right. Dr Donald Olson, an expert on tides, says that the English Channel was flowing the wrong way on this date. They instead favour an invasion of the south coast at Deal on August 22-23. [Read more…]

After a second inconclusive invasion the following year, Caesar was forced to turn his attention to Gaul, where unrest with Roman military occupation was growing. Augustus contemplated several invasions of Britain, but it only became a Roman province after Claudius’ invasion in 43CE.

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