Tuesday, August 30, 2005

HBO's Rome

My apologies for not reminding everyone about the show over the weekend, but since I don't have HBO, it actually slipped my mind! That said, I did manage to get my hands on a copy and have just finished watching the first episode.

I really do believe it's worth watching. It's still early, but the characters have a LOT more potential than The Empire. Even more exciting, real research was done for this show. I'm sure it's not perfect--they were calling him Octavian before the adoption, and "Octavian" gets kidnapped on his way to Gaul--but it's doing a wonderful job for historical fiction. And, of course, we must remember that this is fiction and meant for entertainment first and foremost. Moreover, the deviations are not nearly as distracting as they were in The Empire, and they were well done.

Naturally, I did have a couple issues with the show. Firstly, I have to agree with others that the nudity was a bit excessive. It wasn't even slave women we were seeing nude--it was Atia and Octavia. The later I definitely found unnecessary. On the other hand, I did want to point out that the first nudity we see is actually the captive king of the Gauls. Granted, it's not frontal nudity--and it certainly doesn't approach the overly sexual nudity of the women--but it's ever so slightly more balanced than most of television. I did, however, also have a really big issue with the make-up Atia made poor Octavia wear. I hate to say it, but she looked like a whore. And it was ugly. She was much prettier without it.

Secondly, there really was some over-the-top snobbery in this show. My "favourite" line was, "What a dreadful noise plebs make when they're happy." Riiiiiiiiight.

Overall, however, I am pleased with this show. I think HBO is definitely on the right track with Rome, and I'm glad to see something as good as this after the travesty that was The Empire.

And in case anyone missed it, rogueclassicism has had some excellent posts on Rome: Initial thoughts, Followup I (on Cato's toga), Followup II (on Octavian's kidnapping), Followup III (on Atia), Followup IV (on the Taurobolium), Followup V (on the use of "Octavian").

I want to extend my deepest thanks to David Meadows for providing such thorough coverage on Rome, because it kept me entertained and informed while I was waiting for my copy, and I don't have the time at the moment for such thorough investigation of those little nagging questions!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Romans in China

Another fascinating update from rogueclassicism--Romans in China stir up controversy. The researcher gets a bit testy at the end, methinks, but it's an otherwise interesting look at the state of this mystery.

That's all, really. I'm currently just prepping for classes this semester. I really haven't looked into grad schools as much as I would have liked to this summer, which will probably mean more crunch this semester! Oops. But I've been busy.

I'll be studying Even More Vergil this semester (the Aeneid this time), Cicero and Petronius (although, one will not be for credit) for Latin. I'll also be starting my second year of Greek and taking Hellenistic history. I'll only be taking one non-Classics related course--Early American history. However, we've already established in this blog that I can and shall relate that to my Classical studies as well.

My poor, poor Early American history professor is going to have to deal with my endless questions about James Wilson (who, contrary to the movie 1776, is NOT a toady). If I could find good books on him, I could write volumes on the influence his Classical upbringing had on him!

Friday, August 26, 2005

An old and a new...

David Meadows posted a couple more links on HBO's Rome in rogueclassicism today. One is from the Philadelphia Daily News and requires signing up. You can see in RC a tidbit about how they purposely casted Brits because of their accents. I get the theory, but I'm not sure I agree with it. It's a bit pretentious, if you ask me. Julius Caesar would be about as likely to be speaking with a British accent as he would with an American accent. I'm usually wary of the argument that Americans who use British spellings are pretentious, but deciding that dead Romans should only be portrayed with British or Italian accents is ludicrous. The later, perhaps, I can believe, but British? I should think they'd try to give their audiences a little more credit for intelligence.

The other article is from Newsday. It's certainly voicing a lot of my worries, but the line describing it as a "tawdry soap melodrama" made me raise an eyebrow. It's not exactly beyond this period of Roman history to be resembling something of a soap melodrama...

Anyway, I re-watched the TV movie of the Odyssey (from the 90s) earlier. I love most of the casting, but the script leaves something to be desired. It's still better than most of the dreck that's been airing recently, though. The two things I really do like about this version (besides the casting), though, are:

1) The relationship between Athena and Odysseus--I just think it's well done and is an excellent way of incorporating gods in a film about a Homeric text. I also like how they show Athena directing Penelope to Odysseus in the final scene. There is a strong sense of both Penelope and Odysseus being strong in Athena's spheres of influence.
2) The emphasis on the relationship between guests and hosts. It's done so well that by the end, you're left wondering if Odysseus just blatantly violated all of it, particularly in light of his dealing with the Polyphemus. I mean, you know the suitors violated guest-friendship first by going to the extreme, but the line is left rather blurried. I really do like how they emphasised that in this movie.

Of course, there are still nagging things. They certainly downplay that Poseidon might be mad at Odysseus because Odysseus killed his son. That seems basic to me, but they shift it to emphasis on Odysseus bragging against the gods. They also mess up some of the adventures and shorten Odysseus's time with Calypso in order to give him more time with Circe (although, being a Bernadette Peters fan, I don't really have a problem with this).

Some day, I'd really like to see an accurately done version of the Odyssey, perhaps with Sean Bean as wily Odysseus. That piece of casting was one of the few things Troy managed to do well!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I'm all over the map today...

Apparently, today is the anniversary of Vesuvius going kabloomy. Except, if you factor in time zones, I've already missed it. Oops. I've seen the occassion mentioned in a couple communities, but I suspect they got it from rogueclassicism (because, frankly, David Meadows seems to know everything ;-)).

Anyway, there really hasn't been much going on with the Smithsonian lectures, and I only missed announcing one. The next one is September 9th and is called Roman Genius.

An interesting article on imaging the layers of an Egyptian mummy popped up on the Classics-L list today also.

There was also more on the digitalised medieval manuscript collection. That looks fascinating, and frankly, I'm excited!

In more personal news, the book organising goes on, but it's a daunting task. I've decided to ignore the books that are in boxes elsewhere, because they won't fit on my bookshelf anyway.

I'm going on a short hiatus for the college search to regain morale. It's tough, sometimes, finding something you love so much.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

More movie-type updates...

I'm not sure if I've linked this one in particular, but HBO put up their own page on Rome, which you can find here. One of my professors just sent it to me today. If I've posted it already, just consider it a reminder that the show starts August 28th (Sunday).

Another link from rogueclassicism: a film called The Greek Road, which will include Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Socrates and Plato. It certainly sounds... interesting.

It also occurred to me last night that I completely forgot to do the Smithsonian updates after my summer crunch started. My apologies! I'll try to resume them tonight.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A couple links and book blathering...

Both of them are from rogueclassicism yesterday, I believe.

First, and article about a musical called Esther, the Concubine Queen. It worries me a bit. I showed the link to my prof before you all (sorry, I was tired yesterday), and he was definitely not happy with it. But we can add this to the growing list of musicals based on ancient history and/or literature now... And still that list isn't as long as the one for 19th century Brit lit novels that have been musicalised.

David Meadows also posted about The Ministry of Reshelving and his own plans to do this for ancient history sections. I think it's a brilliant idea. I'm tempted to sneak in and do it at work (except our classical studies and ancient history sections are pretty good).

In other news, I am finally DONE with classes for the summer (with two exams and a paper due this past week, I was starting to feel like I was smack in the middle of a normal semester!). Now I have a week to chill before classes start again.

I've also been attempting to re-organise my books on my bookshelve, and it's a daunting task! I have so many books that actually organising them into section is proving difficult. I'm also having to double-shelve, and I really want all my Classics books to be up front. But that would leave everything else behind them. So I've nixed that idea and am doubling up my poor Classics books. My Loebs and Grene & Lattimore tragedies are definitely staying in the front, though. It's really pathetic that my Classics books are so numerous that I have to divide those into their own subsections too! Ah, sweet booklust!

Oh, also my friend pointed out in the comments to the previous post that the SciFi article on Beowulf was mistaken. There is no weird new "Queen of Darkness" or "Queen of the Night" character. Angelina Jolie will be playing Grendel's mom. I actually think this is excellent and am looking forward to the movie now! Hopefully, it won't let me down...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Film-type updates...

I've been hearing a lot about HBO's Rome lately. Although, I don't think there's anything I can specifically link to that's more than just a line or two here and there (besides the article I linked a few days ago). Anyway, my hopes for this one have been fairly high. It's HBO, and even one of my profs expressed high hopes for it. However, I'm starting to worry a bit. My one consolation is that it cannot possibly be as bad as The Empire. It just cannot. I think anti-research was employed in ABC's show.

On a slightly different but not unrelated note, SciFi updates us on the new Beowulf movie. Yes, I realise this isn't exactly Classical, but history is fluid anyway and can't be limited to such confines (read: it's my blog, and I enjoy medieval stuff! I know some of you do too). Anyway, Angelina Jolie apparently is joining the cast (Anthony Hopkins is in it too!) as the Queen of Darkness. Um, what? I actually like Angelina Jolie, but the Queen of Darkness? Are these people like... related to the makers of The Empire? Or maybe they're really the makers of The Empire in disguise?? Or perhaps aliens abducted them both and screwed with their brainwaves...

Yeah, I'm sorry. The Empire will probably never cease being the butt of my bad jokes. I suffered through hours of that thing and nearly had to claw my eyes out, y'know. ;-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Losing my mind...?

My apologies for not posting yesterday, as promised. I didn't have anything that urgent to say and was a bit swamped.

But I've been thinking. I've pretty much been taking classes all summer without break--even starting right after a grueling semester of seven classes. It's not that I absolutely need the classes to graduate (to be honest, I'm way over the necessary credit number), but I am trying to work my schedule out so that I'll have taken as many Latin and Greek courses as possible before graduating. The fact is I just started too late.

But that means I've been going non-stop. When I saw my advisor yesterday, by chance, he asked me if I've taken a break this summer. Without thinking about it, I said, "no." He's probably on to something, but it's too late to fix that now. My other professor said I shouldn't be on the computer so much. He's probably on to something too, but most of my computer time is spent studying anyway.

Let this also be a lesson to all who may follow. Spend less time on the computer and be sure to TAKE A BREAK once in a while--lest you become CRAZY like ME. ;-) I mean, I really want to get into grad school, but I don't think "Lost her mind and all higher brain functions during her last year of undergrad" would help much on my application. Or maybe it would, because aren't all Classicists a little bit crazy? (I mean this in the best ways, of course.)

Anyway, this article on Thucydides and Taiwan was posted to rogueclassicism a couple days ago. It came just around the time we were going over Thucydides in class and my professor was talking about it as a guide for future wars, and thus, it amused me.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Not dead (yet).

This is just a heads up to say that I haven't died just yet.

Frankly, I'm swamped in another Latin Exam of Doom and a paper (that's not really "of doom," but it is yet another thing to have done) and work yesterday on top of not feeling so great this weekend.

Normal activity should resume Monday or Tuesday afternoon.

I shall, however, leave you with an article snurched from rogueclassicism on HBO's Rome. I have hopes that this will be better than The Empire. I don't have cable, but I have a wonderful friend who will be taping this for me. So I should have a review, but there will be a lag time.

Oh, and Sarah Pomeroy is my current favourite person. Just because. Everyone should read her Spartan Women book. I should reread that too (well, when I have time. Medea knows when that will be).

Thursday, August 11, 2005

What should one do when one is trying to write a paper?

Why, naturally, one should post to her blog.

Procrastination is a natural part of being an undergrad student, even a dedicated undergrad student. Thus, it should be blogged in here, or my blog would not accurately demonstrate the struggles of an undergrad trying to make it into grad school. Half of the struggle is with yourself. Learn this well, anyone who might follow!

Actually, though, I am posting something a little more interesting than procrastination. It's the promised post of grad-school seeking progress. I was talking to one of the grad students in our department last week, and he pointed me to a very useful ranking site. Classics is one of the first links. This makes me happy. I've been messing around with it a bit. I'm still not sure what programs will actually take me, but this gives me a better idea of what's out there.

Also, I watched Alexander the other night, expecting to hate it, but I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. The movie was certainly not completely accurate, but unlike Troy and The Empire, there was an obvious effort at research. It was also an engaging and mostly decently-written movie. Perhaps my standards have been lowered, but I'm not entirely sure why this one bombed as much as it did. I, for one, liked that they addressed homosexuality and made the story much more about Alexander as a person, rather than just being an action flick. One of the battle scenes was a bit excessive (as was the eagle bit), but I think it did a great job of picking the more human scenes, rather than the ones you'd normally expect. My favourite bit was glossing over Philip's death and Alexander's ascension in the beginning and saving that for later.

The one major thing that did bug me, however, was Alexander's excessive idealism about freeing other people and uniting everyone in freedom. I suppose it makes for a good movie, but it was a bit too excessive here. The other thing I would like to have seen, particularly after watching the National Geographic video on Alexander, was a little more demonstration of how he persuaded his troops to go so far before they started getting restless. I loved the scene when he talks to individuals in his ranks and calls them by name, but I wanted a little more of that. I wanted to see them following him dedicatedly and going far before they mutineed. I guess they thought they had to explain why his soldiers mutineed and wanted to build up to that. But I think that part is more self-evident. I wanted to see more about why they followed as long as they did.

And now I should actually get back to doing actual work. Vae!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Amusing thought of the day...

Well, it was actually last night's thought, but I was talking to my professor about it today. It sent me into a giggle-fit.

Why is it that, in pronunciation, we Anglicise "Aristotle" with a silent E at the end, but names like "Pericles" and "Themistocles" we say "eez" at the end? If we're Anglicising, why not "Perikle" (as in "periwinkle" without the "win") and "Themistocle" (again, with the silent E)? I mean, yes, that sent me into FITS of laughter when I said it out loud, but that's just because I'm not used to it. If you think about it, it really does sound more English to pronounce it in that absurd (to us) way.

Of course, my professor (who probably thinks I'm a nut-case, as I couldn't stop laughing) pointed out that "Pericle" with a silent E sounds a lot like "monocle."

English never did make much sense. And I'm still laughing.

In other news, my new goal is to get into the summer program (next summer, clearly) at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. I'm not sure what my chances are, but it's six weeks of studying in Greece. I've never been to Greece, and I seem to have an inability to stop taking classes. It sounds perfect!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Everything but grad school. Oh well.

So I lied. The grad school post is on hold, because I'm supposed to be studying for a mid-term for tomorrow. However, there were a couple other items of interest that came up, and I'm bursting to post.

A wonderful friend of mine mentioned this lawsuit, in which Dan Brown is being sued for plagiarism in The Da Vinci Code. Here is my "favourite" part (actually, the part that my friend mentioned): Perdue alleged that Brown copied the basic premise of "Daughter of God," including notions that history is controlled by victors, not losers, and the importance of the Roman Emperor Constantine in requiring a transition from a female- to a male-dominated religion.

I'm trying to figure out how that even made it into print. How can that idea be plagiarised? How can Perdue even BEGIN to think that that idea was original to him?

I am NO friend of The Da Vinci Code (it's hard to be when you work in a bookstore, and too much of what I've seen of it seems shoddy at best), but I have to wonder what Perdue was thinking.

However, in this article, Brown acknowledges another book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail as a source for his book. Someone on the Classics-L list also mentions that the authors of HBHG are filing their own lawsuit against Brown as well.

Also on the Classics-L list is an article about the DVD "I Still Worship Zeus". What makes me wonder about these neopagans is if they realise the huge cultural difference between today and ancient Greece. In my mind, they cannot be truly practicing the same religion that ancient Greeks practiced. A brief look at their website (linked in the article) shows that they have libations, games, and oracles, but do they have animal sacrifices (admittedly, I only glanced quickly at the website, so it might say)? And, even if they do, can that mean the same to them as it did to the ancient Greeks who lived with so much less certainty? Do they understand the bargaining nature of this religion and the whims of their gods? The oracle seems a bit suspect as well. And on a more superficial note, do they do their games in the nude? :-P

Granted, a lot of this could be said about Christianity today versus Christianity in ancient and medieval times, but most people acknowledge that. There is also a continual evolution. Neopagans too often pick up old traditions thinking they're truly connecting to the past, all the while missing vital elements of culture. The ancient Greeks were a shame culture, not focused on personal spiritual relationships with their gods. Do these people follow that, or have they been influenced by modern notions of religion?

I really have no problem with them practicing their religion, but I do wonder how aware they are of these issues.

On a completely different note, another friend of mine linked to this article. I can't even begin to tell how much I wish that were me. He even has a major in English with a concentration in medieval languages in literature. I've been saying that if I had pursued my English degree instead, I'd go with medieval studies.

Lastly, for a little bit of fun, I give you The are you a good Roman test. It's chock full o' spelling errors and such, but it should amuse you.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Just a quickie...

First, I wanted to thank The Cranky Professor for the linkage for Carnivalesque. I'm flattered!

I also wanted to mention a couple links that have popped up on the Classics-L list:

Scienta est Potentia -- It discusses about Dr. Seuss Latin books and some other children's books in Latin. It amused me, because I mentioned one of my Latin Dr. Seuss books here the other day!

King David's Palace is Found, Archaeologists Say

Anyway, my next post should have something good about my quest for a grad school (which, after all, was the original point of this blog). I just wanted to post and assure you all that I haven't been swallowed by the mess on my desk. ;-)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Because all the cool kiddies are doing it!

David Meadows shows off his desk here. I'm fairly certain I have the rogueclassicist beat for messiness, and to prove this, I have TWO pictures of my desk and desk-area (which really just translated into my ROOM) for you.

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I have a little honour still yet, so I refrained from taking the picture from above and instead took it from below, thereby hiding some of the mess. However, you can see my laptop (opened to this site, just for kicks--I suppose I could have showed off my geeky self-made Tolkien desktop wallpaper instead) with my cell phone on top of it. To the right is a glass I should've taken down, a half-finished bottle of the infamous cherry soda that half of my profs have mistaken for something else (wine and soy sauce were the two most amusing), a mini globe-thingy from my cousin, a little Roman senator figurine that a friend gave me, and a half-empty Borders cup. Yeah.

Right next to my laptop is my advair, a koala phone holder, a Linda Eder CD, Charlotte Brontë's Villette (with the receipt-as-bookmark hanging out), the book catelogue I was talking about the other day, and some other junk. On my wall is an Earth: Final Conflict poster that I randomly won on the official website's sweepstake maybe five or six years ago, back when the show aired. Am I geek? Yes. Do I care? No.

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In this next picture, we have the view from my computer, mostly because I wanted you all to see my books. To give you an idea, most of the books visable on that bookshelf are ones I've acquired approximately in the last year (with a few exceptions in some of my more important Classical texts), and that's probably not even half of them. The rest of my books are in piles on the floor (which I have enough dignity NOT to show you), waiting to be shelved when I have time to actually reorganise everything. On the top shelf, you can see my OLD, full Liddell & Scott, OCD, Oxford English/Hebrew Dictionary (for the record, I know absolutely no Hebrew--I bought it "just in case" because it was on clearance...), Oxford Companion to Classical Lit, Concise OED (I obviously can't afford the real one :-P), another Latin dictionary, Turabian (which I dispise--my MLA is hiding somewhere over there too), and some Greek flash "cards."

On the second shelf, we have some of the Ecce Romani books, my Ovid reader, various Penguin books, other Latin books you can't see, some Loebs, Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine GRINCHUS Christi Natalem Abrogaverit (upside down for some reason), and a bunch of other books.

The third shelf has some of my older books, including complete Plato and Greek tragedies. It also has my DVD player.

The fourth shelf shows more Loebs (Greek this time), David McCullough's John Adams, and some other stuff.

There is a huge pile of books on the fifth shelf, but it's not visible in this picture. For a good reason--the floorspace in front of it is covered with books too.

In the foreground, the part I was trying to cut off, you can see a pile of stuff, including Ecce Romani III and Ilium. You may also make out my Darth Vader light sabre peeping out from between the TV and the bookshelf, and yes, that is a picture from Paestum over my TV. To the right of my TV (which is only a recent development, so I forget to watch it most of the time) are lots of CDs and DVDs.

In less embarrassing news, my class has been going well, if rather busy. But I know I've been at this for quite a while, because one of our textbooks, Archaic Greece: The Age of Experience by Anthony Snodgrass, seems extremely familiar to me. I can't figure out if it's because I've read exerpts in other classes or if it's because a lot of it is familiar material.

Lastly and completely unrelated, I heard the phrase "Gladiator of [insert cause]" the other day. Does this bother anyone else the way it bothers me? Now, I enjoy the movie Gladiator, but it seems to me that people are walking away this mistaken impression about gladiators. The only cause of a gladiator was to stay alive in the arena--why have they become synonymous with freedom fighters or some such these days?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sing, o muse...

In the last five days, I've visited just as many bookstores. Granted, one was a campus bookstore and another was where I work, but considering the fact that I have been both working and attending class, five seems like an excessive number of bookstores to be visiting.

This, naturally, has been disturbing to my bank account, as I've bought books from every one of those bookstores. In fact, I walked out with more than just my class books today at the campus bookstore, because they had some clearance books.

Then I came home and checked my mail and found in it a small catalogue for a bookstore that I've never heard of in New York. This bookstore professed to be specialising in "scholarly and university press books." It had books 20%-90% off! And lo! How weak I was, trembling in the knees, facing my foe! But gentle Athene put her hand on my shoulder and held me back from sweet temptation, cautioning me with her words of wisdom. And so I continue to stare at my worthy opponent but have not yet fallen to its powers. We shall see how long this lasts.

It's like it knows. The sad majority of my purchases these past few days have been scholarly (if not classically related), because I keep thinking, "Never know when I'll need this... and this..." And usually, my "junk" mail just consists of credit card advertisements.

Hrm, I shall blame this on my purchase from the Oxford University Press this past spring. This must have triggered some clever advertising people. Otherwise, somebody is plotting my downfall via BOOKS.

Speaking of books, the first page of Dan Simmons' Ilium was pointed out to me the other day. I have it but have not yet had a chance to read it. However, you should all read the first page. It is far too amusing. Hopefully, the rest of it is as good!

Monday, August 01, 2005

...and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold.

First of all, I'd like to extend my SINCEREST thanks to David Meadows for "warming the cockles of my liver" with this announcement about The Empire. If it weren't illegal, I'd tell you all how to scratch your eyes out with it without throwing money at them. ;-)

Anyway, it's been a trying week for Glaukopis, and I've just learned that I shall be plugging away at more Latin vocabulary while intensely studying Classical Greek history in the next three weeks. I'm torn between being relieved that someone finally believes me when I say that my Latin vocab is weak and being annoyed that I've shown weakness on an examination. There are days when I wonder why I do this to myself. But then I remember that I've started a blog where my ENTIRE identification is being a Classics major--and that isn't so far off from the truth. There will always be pitfalls along the way, and that is my soap-box schpiel to any aspiring Classics majors out there.

To soothe myself, I went out with a friend and bought even MORE used books. I've just got to love a small bookstore owner (or at least, I think he was the owner) who will have a nice conversation with me about the definition of "classic."