What do Alexander the Great and Dead Zone have in common? Absolutely nothing, except they're both in this post!
It's a good thing they all know I'm an insane aspiring Classicist at work already, because my over-enthusiasm for Sappho might have been disturbing otherwise.
However, what has arrived is my copy of National Geographic's Beyond the Movie: Alexander the Great. This is an exciting little gem that got shafted because the movie flopped. Scholars interviewed are (in order of name-appearance, as shown on screen in the video, because it's obvious that Cartledge isn't the other "Professor" in the film, even if he's the only one with the title):
Robin Lane Fox - Oxford University
Professor Paul Cartledge - Cambridge University
John Maxwell O'Brien - Queens College
Joseph Scholten - University of Maryland
Colonel Lance Betros - U.S. Military Academy, West Point
David Byers Millers - National Geographic Maps
Partha Bose - Author of Alexander the Great's Art of Strategy
Andrew Chugg - Author of The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great
It's an excellent little video (available on Amazon) that was meant to come out with the recent Alexander movie. Except, the movie flopped, so I don't think NG actually aired it (at least, that's what I was told). What I really liked about it, though, was that it wasn't cut-and-dry "this is what Alexander did," etc. They really tried to explore Alexander's psychological motivations, including discussion on Olympias (primarily Cartledge and O'Brien). Scholten also has a few good lines about trying to get inside Alexander's head and exploring his personality. Colonel Betros also had some excellent discussion about Alexander's military strategy.
The other thing I liked was their discussion of Alexander's influence on great leaders in the modern world. Bose discusses George Washington's strategy and how Alexander influenced it. There is also the (obvious) discussion of Napoleon and Patton.
As a bonus (for me), it was the first time I've seen Robin Lane Fox, so now I know what he looks like!
There's also a short extra called "The Influence of Troy's Legend," which is clearly calculated to bring in the movie-going crowd (again). It's actually about the Iliad's influence on Alexander and his relationship to Achilles, so it really just rehashes Homer. It's really not as interesting to a someone with basic knowledge of Classics, but I'm sure it was good for the uninformed.
Anyway, I liked it, despite the bashing review on Amazon.
And on a completely unrelated note, if there are any Dead Zone fans reading this, one of the extras in the Season 3 DVD set includes a bit on pankration, even discussing it as an ancient Olympic sport. Apparently, Chris Bruno (Walt Bannerman) trains in a somewhat modernised version of pankration. My knowledge of ancient sports (or modern, for that matter) is next to nil, however, so I really have little else to say about it.