Monday, October 31, 2005

The Elements of Style: The Operatic Song Cycle

Oh... dear. I suppose with my love for Schoolhouse Rock, I should not really be disturbed by this, but I am.

I actually did not know until yesterday--when I saw it at Borders and was lusting over it--that there was an illustrated hard-back version of The Elements of Style.

But let's be honest here. The only reason I love rule-books is so that I know best how to break them. ;-)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Canis id devoravit!

Ahaha! You all must read this. It was just posted to the Classics-L list.

I'm all cracked up. Hermes stole my homework!!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

She lives!

My apologies for the relative silence of late. I've been swamped with midterms and other school commitments.

I also find it confusing that I've been getting random offers for grad programs in lit and Information at rather good schools, but nothing from Classics (except what I've requested). I guess that's because of my English major, but do they realise my Classics GPA is better than my English GPA? At least it was the last time I checked. I hope this isn't an omen.

In other news, the Fall Sale at Oxford University Press ends this Tuesday, Nov 1, so take this opportunity to get your very own OLD! I have mine, and I LOVE it! And if you have $995 plus shipping to spare, you can get the complete OED. Wow. If only!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Classics Major's Lament

In honour of Classical parodies and the fact that this month marks the 20th anniversary of Les Misérables (how time flies! Seems like just yesterday they were broadcasting the 10th anniversary concert...), I thought I'd share with you all a little parody I wrote myself a couple years ago.

You see, it was the fourth semester in a row when I'd been assigned The Bacchae for class. Fortunately, it was with four different professors, so the discussion was interesting, but by that fourth time in two years--much as I love Euripides--I was ready for something else. Thus, I thought to myself that I'd use the time to write a parody to the tune of "On My Own" (from Les Miz) instead of actually reading it for the fourth time in as many semesters. Unfortunately, at the time I was writing the parody, I'd mixed up a couple verses of the song, but you, dear readers, will forgive me, I'm sure.

I call this "The Classics Major's Lament"

On my ass,
Pretending that I'm reading.
Yes, alas,
I'm wond'ring why I'm needing
To reread this play I see before me,
When upside down and backwards, I already know the story.

In the play,
The arrival of Dionysus.
Pentheus, the king, dislikes the thyrsus
The Maenads are dancing in the starlight,
And this I've read, until they're dead, s'mester after s'mester.

And I know it's already in my mind--
That Agave tears his head off in the end.
And although we know that she is blind
Still we say, heed Teiresias!

I love them, but everyday I'm learning--
All these years I've only been rereading
The same plays--Bacchae, 'Resteia, Medea...
Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus unending...

I love them, but when the play is over,
They're all dead and off to cross the river
Into Hades, and then to curse their fam'lies.
Their world is full of tragedy that we must read again!

I love them, I love them...
I love them, but only when it ends!

I'm actually rather fond of The Bacchae and the rest of Greek tragedy, so it's all in good fun. ;-) Curiously, most of the Classics courses I've been taking recently have *not* involved Greek tragedies. This makes me sad!

Anyway, for those of you wondering why there's been no Rome update this week--it's because the show is on hiatus until next week. The agony!! A warning, though, if you visit the official site, they give off a major spoiler in their short summary. It made me rather mad! But I guess those of you coming this way to read my Rome summaries/reviews don't mind the spoilers so much...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Dido's roasting...

My prof showed this to us a week or two ago, and it cracks me up to no end. A quick google search brought up an earlier online posting.

"Here's to You, Vergil"
(to the tune of "The Christmas Song")

by Ed Long, Tennessee JCL

Dido's roasting on an open pyre,
Ships sail off in search of home,
Trojan epics being sung with a lyre
And helmsmen drowning in the foam --
On the way to Rome
A white sow and her thirty young
Help to mark the future site.
Tiny Iulus with his head all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.
He knows that Turnus comes today,
He's loaded lots of bows and arrows
For to slay,
And every Latin wife is going to spy
To see if Trojans really know how to die.
And so we're offering this simple phrase
To classicists both old and new,
Although you've been read
Many times, many ways --
Publius, here's to you!

The Penelopiad

David Meadows at rogueclassicism links to another article about Atwood's Penelopiad, which can be found here. Apparently, it's part of a series of books adapting Greek myth.

David Meadows also posted about William Annis' Bonsai Double Dactyl, which I must link because it cracks me up and reminds me of one of my profs.

Friday, October 21, 2005

HBO's Rome ep 8

-Brutus comes home and hugs his mother--looks confused!
-Caesar meets Ptolemy, who looks really bored!
-Some kids throw a rock at Pullo, who throws it back
-Ptolemy on Cleopatra: "Do not speak of her! I piss on her! I shit on her!" Adorably bratty kid. Discussion of whether or not he has complete control over Egypt or if Cleopatra is a threat.
-Bring out Pompey's head. Ptolemy is really excited about how they were going to "make him a body and do a mime show with real animals and everything!" Caesar frightens him by bellowing "Silence!" (Why not "Tace!"? hee. Then he says, "Shame on the House of Ptolemy, shame!" and shouts that he "was a consul of Rome!" Caesar mad as all hell. He demands the guy who killed Pompey.
-Pompey's funeral pyre. Caesar muttering something, and a tear!
-Caesar wants to "settle" the impending civil war in order to protect grain interests.
-Antony reminds Caesar of Cato and Scipio. Caesar says he'll crush them. Antony: "I'm glad you're so confident. Some would call it hubris." Caesar: "It's only hubris if I fail."
-Vorenus apologises to Caesar again for not turning in Pompey--feels responsible for Pompey's death!
-Caesar comes back the next day for Pompey's assassin, but the eunuch says he's run away. Caesar says he's collecting the money borrowed by Ptolemy's father. Ptolemy throws the scroll at Caesar's feet. Caesar: "His majesty forgets he is a vassal to Rome." Ptolemy: "Vassal?! I am no Vassal!" Caesar: "SIT DOWN!" Caesar says he'll collect a bit less and says he'll adjudicate with Cleopatra in the meantime.
-Pullo makes fun of Egyptian gods. Vorenus talks about how great Egypt was "long before Rome." Sounds like a history lesson for the uneducated viewers...
-Ptolemy's men want to kill off Cleopatra before Caesar can find her and put her on the throne.
-Messenger comes to tell Cleo that she "must prepare herself for the afterlife." Her nurse is FAR more upset than she is!
-Executioners come and tell her to say her last words. She's mumbling in Egyptian (presumably!) when we hear choking from outside. Instead of quickly finishing the job, as would be logical, the guy stands there looking confused. Pullo comes in, and they fight. Nurse holds herself over Cleo. Pullo beats up excessively on executioner.
-Ptolemy's men want to attack Caesar.
-Pompey's assassin brought to Caesar. Assassin killed.
-Cleopatra talks about Caesar to her nurse. Smokes something in a pipe.
-Pullo tells Vorenus that Cleo wants him!
-Cleo on seducing Caesar: "I have him. Or I die! So I will have him!"
-Nurse tells Vorenus to come. Cleo wants him to "enter her." Vorenus is dumb and says, "I do not understand..." She wants to make babies! But Vorenus says he's not a slave to be commanded to have sex. Cleo insulted. Vorenus comes rushing out of the tent and says, "Pullo! Report immediatedly to Princess Cleopatra and do as she says!" Pullo is confused! Um... match made in heaven, though. Pullo comes out grinning and goes to lie down and starts talking to Vorenus. V: "I don't want to know!"
-Cleo brought to Caesar by Vorenus and Pullo in a bag.
-Ptolemy playing some kind of game with his eunuch that involves Ptolemy kicking the guy blindfolded. Cleo enters and Ptolemy runs back to his throne, frightened.
-She goes up to kiss him, and he turns his face away, very very scared! She taunts him. He says he never wanted to harm her. She blames the eunuch and says, "It must die!"
-More heads on pikes.
-Cleo tells Caesar she's his slave. They have sex.
-That scene juxtaposed with Servilia leaning over Octavia and kissing her.
-A bunch of Egyptians gather while Caesar and Cleo are having their fun, and they start throwing rocks at the Romans.
-Cicero tells Brutus: "We only did what we had to do." Brutus: "No doubt Saturn said something of the sort after eating his children." They discuss that Antony will be unleashed to do as he wants, and Brutus says that he is done with politics. Cicero wants to communicate with Scipio and Cato, but Antony pops in with "good news." Antony insists he's a merciful man and says he's made some mistakes he's ashamed to think of. He tells Cicero that he forgives him and that "nothing escapes" him and threatens to cut off his hands if he hears his name connected with treachery again. Then he tells them that Caesar has lifted the seige and is master of all Egypt.
-Shot of Ptolemy's body in the water. Caesar and Cleo walk out with a baby (it's been 9 mo already?!). The soldiers are shouting, including Pullo. Vorenus gives him a look, and Pullo stops momentarily but then continues. Soooooo who's baby is it, we wonder!

Overall: To everyone who was skeptical of the Servilia/Octavia relationship lasting--I blow my nose at you! :-D I really really loved this episode. The acting is fabulous. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the Cleopatra situation, particularly with regards to Pullo, but it's interesting, anyway. And I'm very happy to have my Egypt episode at long last!

Next on my list--where is this Servilia/Octavia relationship going?? I want to see more than sex!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Call for papers

My apologies for the silence of late. My two Impending Latin Exams of DOOM and two English exams this week are keeping me busy (and not in the best of health). I'm going to be very good and put off watching and reviewing Rome until after the exams are finished (perhaps Thursday night if I'm not too burnt out).

Anyway, I'm taking a short break from that to bring to your attention a CFP I just saw today:

Ovid's Metamorphoses in English Poetry
(University of Salzburg)
Deadline for submissions: 31 January 2006

Ovid's Metamorphoses has had an enormous influence on English literature - from Renaissance drama to postmodern prose fiction. The aim of this volume is to concentrate on poetry and bring together essays both on the reception of Ovid's Metamorphoses in English poetry and on verse translations. Contributors may explore a specific poem, poet, or translator, compare translations, or trace the reception of a particular story in different poets, periods, or in various poems of a particular period. The volume will be edited by Sabine Coelsch-Foisner and Wolfgang Görtschacher, members of the Department of English and of the Interdisciplinary Research Centre Metamorphic Changes in the Arts (IRCM). It is scheduled to appear in 2006/07. Papers should not exceed 14 pages (approximately 7.000 words). Proposals should be submitted by 31 January 2006, together with an abstract (maximum of 350 words) and a brief cv, and the completed papers sent by 31 July 2006 to the editors:

Sabine Coelsch-Foisner :, or Wolfgang Görtschacher :

Postal address: Department of English, University of Salzburg, Akademiestr. 24, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria, Tel: 0043-66-8044-4422,

Fax: 0043-662-8044-167.

I know absolutely nothing about this personally, so questions should be directed at those contacts.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Ecce! The spread of Classics...

I love getting e-mail from my readers, and I got a very interesting e-mail from Mark Alonge last night, informing me about some work by Jack Mitchell, a grad student at Standford.

First is an historical novel for young adults, called The Roman Conspiracy.

Secondly, he also has a site dedicated to an epic poem he wrote about Canada in Homeric style called The Plains of Abraham. It's a very interesting site with a lot of useful information about Canadian history and the epic form.

My favourite excerpt from the site so far: "This epic poem turns its back on Virgilian epic, returning to the foundations of the genre laid by Homer in Greek and Vyasa in Sanskrit. It is not a twilight sigh of that tradition. It reaffirms that the human voice, not the written word, is the cornerstone of poetic truth."

Go check it out--you won't regret it!

In unrelated news, my grad school search is extending back to England again. One of my profs actually suggested I check out Oxford and Cambridge's MPhil programs. I've been wanting to study in England for ages, and if he thinks I have a shot, then I can't see that it would hurt to apply. I'm also narrowing down the more realistic schools here in the U.S. too, so we'll see how it goes...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

HBO's Rome ep 7

-Pullo and Vorenus washed up on shore.
-Octavia feeding a cute Amazon (bird)!
-Niobe and her sister make up. aww.
-Octavia sent by Atia to beg Servilia for help.
-Servilia sends men to help guard their door. Octavia cries from gratitude. Octavia hurries out, but Servilia seems to want her to stay...
-Pompey and Caesar prepare for battle.
-Caesar wins--Cato, Brutus et al argue about whether or not to continue. They decide to make their separate ways to Egypt.
-Pullo talks about the afterlife much more in the way we envision it than would be proper for Romans.
-Pullo and Vorenus build a raft with dead bodies???
-They wash up to shore and run into Pompey!
-Servilia invites Octavia back to her house for weaving. Atia makes Octavia go. WOW. In the previous scene, I thought Servilia looked like she was making moves on Octavia, but then I thought it MUST just be in my head. I was SO WRONG. A servant tells them that Caesar's men have won. Servilia starts crying. Octavia tries to comfort her, and then they kiss...
-Cicero gets snarky to a soldier who stops him as he comes to surrender to Caesar. Caesar is glad to see Cicero and Brutus and embraces them both. He won't let them surrender and tells them they have only quarrelled and are friends again. They tell him Pompey, Cato, and Scipio have fled to Africa.
-Pompey tells his children stories around a campfire.
-Pompey's guide offers to split the reward with Pullo and Vorenus if they help him take Pompey and his men. Vorenus tells him to walk away. The guide tries to attack him, and Vorenus kills him.
-Vorenus takes Pompey prisoner. They talk privately. Pompey talks about the battle and explains how he lost. "Here I am. That's how Pompey Magnus was defeated. That's how the Republic dies." He begs Vorenus to consider his wife and children and wants to take them to Egypt.
-Servilia and Octavia sleeping together.
-Vorenus and Pullo leave Pompey. Pullo complains about the lost reward, and Vorenus tells him, "Pompey Magnus is no slave to be sold for money."
-Vorenus tells Caesar about their encounter with Pompey. He explains that Pompey is broken, and he didn't see the need to apprehend him. Caesar is angry but only says, "In future you will remember that it is I who offers mercy, and no one else." Mark Antony thinks Caesar has been "far too lenient with him." Caesar explains that he would've made an example of any other man, but Pullo and Vorenus have been so lucky that they must have powerful gods on their side, "and I will not kill any man with friends of that sort."
-Pompey meets Lucius Septimius in Egypt. Septimius kills him while his wife and children watch. His wife covers the kids' eyes. Septimius apologizes as he stabs Pompey and then chops off his head. Ew.

Overall thoughts: Another good episode, but I'm a little disappointed (though not surprised) by the abridgement of Pompey in Egypt. I liked the demonstration of Caesar's clementia and how it worked differently for Brutus/Cicero and for Vorenus/Pullo (i.e. the former were greeted as friends and the later, being lower class, were verbally whipped, even if he let them off). The Servilia/Octavia relationship was ESPECIALLY interesting to me, in light of the paper I wrote last semester (and am considering using for my grad app). It's interesting, though, that they choose to explore this before exploring male same-sex relationships. In fact, female same-sex relationships were not very well regarded by most Romans. It certainly happened often enough to be written about, but the sources I've seen aren't very positive about it. I, however, am VERY excited to see this explored in Rome after my own exploration of the topic last semester.

Centaurs--fact or fiction?

I just read this article, which was linked at rogueclassicism. I have to say that I'll remain skeptical until they explain what they mean by "researchers have no whole centaur skeletons but lots of upper and lower parts of centaurs skeletons." Couldn't that just mean they have half a horse skeleton and half a human skeleton? :-P

I also don't buy the argument that ancients couldn't have drawn what they never saw. The only thing that sounds even remotely promising in the article is that science has determined that interbreeding might not be impossible. I want more hard science before I believe in the true existence of centaurs.

A Rome update should be upcoming tonight. I'd also like to thank Alun for hosting Carnivalesque! I'm quite surprised and flattered that my Rome reviews have made it. Thanks!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

When Classics and the 'net collide...

I woke up this morning, read this post at rogueclassicism, and laughed.

I very specifically remember the thread on trying to figure out the correct spelling of "honor" in Greek for a tattoo.

Although, much as I loathe Troy, it's a little unfair to say that the story has been left unchanged since Homer. The story of Troy was always in flux. What the Greek tragedians wrote about it was different from Homer. Sometimes, it was even different from what they themselves had written! Greek mythology was always in flux. To be fair, what the writers of Troy did was probably in line with what Greeks did to their myths. My bigger problem with it was that it was a bad movie. If you want to make changes, fine, but make sure they actually make your movie good. A great example of this is Gladiator. It was riddled with historical inaccuracies, but it was a great movie.

Also, my friend pointed out to me that PBS is doing a program on Helen of Troy. I believe that link takes you to the D.C. channel listing, though.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Paul Cartledge lecture

My apologies for not typing this up right away, but I did actually have a paper to finish afterwards!

First, I must say I am thrilled to have been able to go to a lecture with Paul Cartledge. He is a wonderful man and (obviously) an excellent scholar. He was presented with two plaques and a pin by various societies and got no less than three introductions. Of course, I didn't realise at the time that he had just done another lecture the day before at Hamilton College, mentioned at rogueclassicism.

Anyway, his lecture was titled "What the Spartans Have Done for Us." He discussed their contributions in history, culture, and even the English language (i.e. Spartan, laconic, helot). His lecture was quite broad (but not too long), including Spartan women and the Battle of Thermopolae. He also mentioned that his next book should be coming out in about a year.

I shied away from trying to speak to him myself, but he did seem to notice when I left the reception and was kind enough to say goodbye to me. I was very impressed and touched by that.

Anyway, I hope some of you had a chance to go. I think I'm still grinning from the experience!

Monday, October 03, 2005

HBO's Rome ep 6

This is mostly just random thoughts as I was watching Rome. A good summary can be found at rogueclassicism.

Amusing moment: Pullo asks "Who?!" when Vorenus mentions the Gracchi.

More curses! Niobe's sister to Niobe when Niobe tries to comfort her after they find out that Evander is probably dead: "By the grace of the Furies, I curse you!"

Atia tells Pullo to find someone for Octavius to "penetrate."

More sex scenes: Vorenus/Niobe--At least they're actually married. :-P

Atia to Octavius: "You WILL penetrate someone today, or I will... burn your wretched books in the hearth!" ouch. I'm keeping my books FAR away from that woman.

Pullo to the woman in charge of the brothel: "All right, my dove. We'll pay. But the girl better fuck him like Helen of Troy with her ass on fire. Or I'll know the reason why!"

Octavius talks to prostitute before "penetrating."

Antony watching girls fight with helmets and no clothing. o_O One gets wounded, and he licks it.

More sex: Atia and Antony. Atia wants to marry Antony. Tells him to stay in Rome. If Caesar is defeated, her position can help him be "king" if he doesn't join Caesar in Greece. Antony: "I had not realised until now... what a wicked old harpy you really are!" Atia slaps him. He slaps back--slave woman brings out a knife. Atia tells him to get out.

Atia sobbing.

Vorenus takes something out of Niobe's foot.

Antony decides to GO and help Caesar after Atia's little scene. Hitherto, he's been uncertain.

Atia sends Servilia a nude slave with his package... packaged. o_O Servilia in "ill-humour" at first, leaving Octavia flustered. Octavia says she'll go, but Servilia asks her back and tells her that she is blameless. She tells her, "Tell your mother that I'm grateful for the gifts and that I treasure the friendship as always."

Octavius sent away to Mediolanus.

Shot of the the 13th on a ship to Greece. Rain and puking. Pullo and Vorenus arguing about Triton.


Overall thoughts: Another interesting episode. I just love the character relationships in this show and the attention to detail. It's one of those things that you really do need to watch for yourself!

On the other hand, my Rome summaries (particularly last week's) is attracting some curious traffic. As of today, the most common search term for my blog is "futatrix," even higher than "glaukopidos." I confess I'm a little disturbed. My blog seems a bit dirty--in a Latinish way. heh.

On a completely unrelated note, those of you in the D.C. area, don't forget the Paul Cartledge lecture on Wednesday at 7PM at the University of Maryland, College Park!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

More articles of interest...

My friend Chip, aka my "bama" (don't ask), pointed out this article to me just now. Apparently, the scientists who supposedly discovered the 10th planet in the solar system (called Xena, hence the not-really-related-but-we'll-pretend-it-is content of this half of the post) have just discovered that this planet has a moon. This moon is being called Gabrielle.

Actually, I consider most astronomy related to Classics, because of the propensity for these celestial bodies to be named after mythological characters. And because much of what we know today is based, at least in part, on the discoveries of the ancients.

In more obviously related news, however, Margaret Atwood is apparently writing a retelling of the Odyssey from Penelope's point of view. This will be called, "The Penelopiad." The link is courtesy of the Classics-L list, yet again.

Looks like some fun stuff, but I've got to get back to my reading!