A note from Rob Cain: I asked for submissions on a very specific subject. I wanted if anyone could submit a fictional piece about THE LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA. To be…
(Editor’s Note – Professor Carl Richard was featured on the podcast “Washington Wore a Toga”. The following is a transcript of the interview that was first published on the blog in 2011. Professor Richard wrote the book: Why We’re all Romans: The Roman Contribution to the Western World).
You know you’re an amateur classicist when: What are the things on your list?
Bring your tux to The Decades Ball My cousin sent me a heads up. It seems there is a yearly event called The Decades Ball, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City, and since my tux was at the cleaners, I attended through the miracle of SKYPE.
Sometimes I get lonely. However, not when I take my special book titled the Smaller Classical Dictionary. It’s easily shoved in your computer bag, purse, or in a jacket pocket. It is your own personal entourage that sits with you in front of Starbucks, the doctor’s office, or that layover in Madrid. I would take this book with me to London or Rome. Don’t get it new. I recommend getting an old copy off of Ebay. Make sure the binder’s good, with a published date around the 1920s or 1940s. Antique books reek of authenticity, previous owners, and much travel. It should fit nicely into roomy pocket, so that you can verify any emergency classical allusions. The paper is delicate. With that much age, it reverts to the delicacy of a tissue, and that is good. The Smaller Classical Dictionary should be treated like your baby. Warning: Be very careful what type of bookmark you wind up using. Anything that is magnetized is a big mistake.
“I’ve marched the companies aboard, the arms are stowed below: Now let another take my sword. Command me not to go! I’ve served in Britain forty years, from Vectis to the Wall, I have none other home than this, nor any life at all.”
I noticed that someone dropped in on my blog site after googling the following: Funny skits about the Roman Empire. One place to go to if you are looking for such entertainment is the 70s TV show: UP POMPEII. No, you would not find this on commercial American television (at least not today), for it was far too bawdy, but it was right in keeping with the tradition of ancient Roman Theater. Believe it or not, it used to be on American Public Television usually running late at night. I have a theory on that one. It was a good show starring Frankie Howerd (correct spelling). He played the part of Lurcio (pronounced LURK-IO). Now what you got to remember many Roman names had meanings, so a common joke is to give characters names that reflect their character. “A slave that lurks…thus LURK-IO” get it? He is owned by a master named Ludicrus Sextus (I suppose having sex with him would be ludicrous?) and a daughter named Erotica (who can’t get enough?). And you can’t forget the son Nausius (another way to say nauscious?) who is in a continual state of virginity. I think by now you caught on. If you wonder what kind of show it was, it was probably right in line with the tradition of Roman Comedy. There were lots of double entendres and many risqué gags. For Americans, readings this review, I am sure that there was semi-nudity as well. If you Google old photos from the show, there are images of half-naked women. Please note I am just reporting the facts, and please remember British Television was way different from American television. How it made its way on to American Public Television? The naughty-bits were taken out, of course. What influenced this show were the plays of Plautus for one thing, and during the 70s there was a hit Broadway musical and film: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.
I rate a book by whether I simply read it or I devour it. This I devoured. Empire is the story of a family who are eyewitnesses to the glory and the decadence of the Emperors spanning 4 generations from 14 A.D. to 141 B.C. Over time the Pinarius family see murder, mayhem, and even the burning of Rome itself in the great fire. They are not untouched by it. One generation is molested by Caligula, one dies by his own hand at the final days of Nero.
(Editor’s Note – Mr. Shanower was featured on the podcast “Season 2, Ancient Troy, Graphic Novels and Brad Pitt? The following is a transcript of the interview that was first published on the blog in 2011).
The imagery above is the cover of the book Trying Neaira. The painting is from the 1861 painting by the French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme. It is voyeuristic. No question. However, whatever ones thoughts on the subject of nudity, in one glaring imagery it gets across the sexual politics of the age, and the subject of the book.