4thofeleven: (Default)
Alright, so this has literally bugged me for years. In the TNG episode, “Best of Both Worlds”, Picard has this line, the night before the battle, wondering if the last Roman emperor had realised the empire was going to fall ‘when he saw the Visigoths come over the seventh hill’.

And for years, it’s annoyed me that the line references Romulus Augustus, because while he was technically the last Roman Emperor, Rome had long since fallen, he was half-German himself, reigned for less than a year and was little more than a puppet for his father. And normally I’d accept historical errors in TV shows as errors on the part of the character (Captain Sheridan, I’m looking at you…), PICARD SHOULD AND WOULD KNOW BETTER!

And then the other day, I watched the episode again. Picard doesn’t say Romulus Augustus, he says Honorius. Flavius Honorius, emperor during the sack of Rome of 410. Whose name doesn’t sound anything like Romulus Augustus. I don’t know how the hell I misheard it.

I am sorry I ever doubted you, Jean-Luc.

(Though, technically, Honorius would have been in Ravenna when the Visigoths came over the seventh hill, but I’ll allow Picard the poetic license…)
4thofeleven: (Default)
"And then, the moment arrives—the moment when the movie spreads its wings and reveals its truest self: Noah gives Claire a gift. A first edition of the Iliad."
- In Jennifer Lopez's The Boy Next Door, The Trashiest Moment is a Real Classic, slate.com
 

A first edition. Of the Illiad. It's... pfft... heh... BWAHAHAHA!

Is it signed by Homer?

4thofeleven: (Default)
We have more Sappho! Repeat, we have more Sappho!

(Just two more fragments, unfortunatly, and no translation yet, but still... almost half again as much as we had before!)

4thofeleven: (Default)
If the lecturer says they only have time for one more question, and it's going to have to be brief, perhaps you could consider making your question slightly more specific than "How do you think Rome influenced western culture?"
4thofeleven: (Default)
A decent film, rather disappointed that it’s not getting a proper release anywhere. Hypatia’s story is one that deserves to be repeated, and the collapse of Alexandria’s intellectual culture in the face of fanatical uncompromising religion is one that still resonates today.

On the most shallow level, the visuals are <i>gorgeous</i>... )
4thofeleven: (Default)
You know what’s annoying? Only hearing about a play near the end of its run, so by the time you see it, it’s too late to recommend it to anyone else. This is the second time this has happened to me, and both times it’s been a one-actor performance written and performed by Jane Montgomery Griffiths.

Then again, I can’t really offer a particularly coherent recommendation at this point. Jane was wonderful as a lecturer when I was studying Classics at Monash, blew me away when I saw her play Razing Hypatia last year, and this… this was even better. I really wish I could see it again, just to pick up all the subtle little references and themes in it… but, on the other hand, it was so emotionally draining I’m not sure I could see it again immediately. I really don’t know how she can maintain such a viscerally emotional performance night after night – she actually looks different when she switches between different character, and the way she switches between strong emotions with barely a moment of rest…

I was actually physically exhausted after the play, from leaning forward for almost two hours, completely unable to relax in my seat.

As with Hypatia, I think I need a little longer to mull over the play’s contents. I do think it was brilliant to link how Sappho’s own work focuses on longing and unfulfilled desires with the way that her work is today, nothing but incomplete fragments. As I said, I really wish I could see it again after having done more reading to see where Sappho’s own words were incorporated into the play; there were a few lines I recognised, but I’m sure there were a lot more fragments worked in.

As I said, coherent? No, I don’t think I can be. Wonderful play, incredible performance.
4thofeleven: (Default)
Because everyone else is doing it.

Leave me a comment saying "Boom-cha" and I will respond by asking you five questions that satisfy my curiosity. Update your journal with the answers to the questions, including this in the post.

Questions by [livejournal.com profile] sunnyskywalker

1. What do you think happened to Talia Winters? Did they really dissect her like Bester said, or was he just trying to rile them?

I always thought dissecting Talia seemed a bit of a waste of resources – even if Talia 2.0 couldn’t access Talia’s telekinetic powers, presumably she still has the ability and the priority should have been on getting it to work again so the Corps could study a living subject and telekinesis in action.

Then again, the alternate personality might not have been designed for long-term operation and might have shut down on its own – considering Talia 2.0’s subtle reaction to being exposed is to pull a weapon on Lyta in front of a half-dozen witnesses while bellowing Psi-Corps slogans, one kind of gets the impression it was a rush job and perhaps not too smart when left unattended.

Anyway, I’m an optimist, and I prefer to think that Talia survived somehow and was eventually restored. Bester might not even have been intentionally lying – he is somewhat out of the loop when it comes to some of the internal conspiracies in the Corps. Maybe Talia was transferred over to Bureau 13 with death and dissection as a cover story.

And I have – admittedly slim – evidence to support the theory that she was restored. Sleeping in Light, when everyone toasts to absent friends, Talia isn’t one of the dead characters named. Granted, neither is Lyta, but nobody was really close to her except Zack, and he’s not there. So I say, that proves it, obviously she wasn’t named because as of 2281, she’s not dead!

And I refuse to listen to any arguments to the contrary.

2. Tell me your thoughts on orcs, of any brand.

I’ve always had an affection for orcs, going back to when I was a kid and I used to collect Warhammer model soldiers. In the Warhammer game system, the Orc and Goblin army was one of the most unreliable, with special rules to represent the tendencies of orcs to fight among themselves rather than the enemy, the unreliability of most orc weapons, and the generally uncontrollable nature of an orc horde – Orc wizards sometimes overloaded their brains with too much magic and exploded, some of their special unit moved a random amount each turn. Fun army, very characterful, not very effective, but more fun to play than the disciplined, organised ranks of an elf or dwarf army.

One of the things I like about orcs is that they tend to fit into the pseudo-dark ages society most fantasy worlds are permanently stuck in a lot better than chivalrous knights or refined elves. Why’s Gorbad the Stabber the boss? Because he’s got an army of orcs behind him who beat the crap out of anyone who disagrees. What have you got to say to that, Mr. Rightful Heir, True King, Last of Your Ancient Line? Why are we at war with this kingdom? Are we reclaiming our ancestral lands? Are we fighting a last heroic stand against the forces of evil? No, but our soldiers are getting restless and they’ve got shiny things we want. It’s a bit more honest to just admit you rule by strength of arms and brutality, and more true to how most noble dynasties originally rose to power…

3. How did you get into vexillology? Was it just too cool a word?

Flags and coats of arms are one of those things I’ve always been interested in. Unfortunately, most countries to have gained independence in the last few decades have picked terrible flags. Bosnia’s flag seems to have been designed primarily to communicate “We really want EU membership!”. Kosovo stuck a map of their country on the flag, which seems to be missing the point of a flag as an iconic representation of the country. Montenegro just went with their coat of arms on a coloured background, which again seems to be missing the point of having a flag – a mistake a fair number of US State flags have also made. Eritrea just hurts my eyes to look at – I think it’s the red and green right next to each other. Turkmenistan stuck a strip of carpet on their flag, which, well, A-plus for creativity, minus several million for aesthetics, yes?

On the plus side, East Timor came up with a very nice and distinctive design, and most of the former Soviet Republics came up with interesting flags.

And, no, I’m not a fan of Australia’s current flag – looks like a colonial flag, and too similar to New Zealand. Unfortunately, I suspect an Australian Republic flag would be much worse; I’d like to see the Eureka flag chosen, but that’s probably got too much political baggage.

4. Besides Kirk and Spock, who learns Spock Prime's identity? Sarek? The Admiralty? No one?

I assume the Federation was kind of hush-hush about what happened in general – nobody wants to know they’re living in an alternate timeline, and you don’t want other governments trying to work out how to send their ships back in time – or how to make contact with their
counterparts in alternate realities.

I imagine Spock Prime would tell as few people as possible – he probably doesn’t want to be pestered every other week with Starfleet demands for information on future events. Sarek probably knows – hmm, and maybe Pike too. Spock was very loyal to the guy in the prime timeline, it makes sense that if he was going to contact anyone in Starfleet, it’d be him.

5. What is the coolest translation you've done in Greek?

One of the most fun was when we were assigned a passage from Aristophanes’ The Clouds. The point of the exercise, as the teacher explained afterwards, was to check how confident you were at translating when the correct translation produced sentences like “And then he took the flea and dipped its feet in wax. And so it had Persian slippers on its feet!” – the sort of result that makes it very easy to assume you must have screwed up somewhere…

Irony

Sep. 8th, 2009 02:43 pm
4thofeleven: (Default)
Conversation in class today:

A: …the rivers of the Greek underworld: Acheron, Styx… um. Damn, what’s the other famous one? Can’t remember the name...
(Pause)
B: Lethe?
A: Yeah, that’s it, thanks.
B: It is very easy to forget that one.
4thofeleven: (Default)
If you’re in Melbourne and have the time, I cannot recommend strongly enough you go see Razing Hypatia.

Jane Montgomery, who’s written and stars in the play, was my classics lecturer for pretty much all my units, so I’m already a big fan, but this… damn, it just blew me away. She is absolutely fantastic, switching between theme and place and concept perfectly, weaving together all the elements into a painful but fantastic whole.

Hypatia and her death is, of course, such an interesting and horrifying story, and Jane does full justice to every aspect of the story and its interpretation, while weaving in the story of a modern woman viewing her own failures through the context of Hypatia.

There’s so much to discuss in Hypatia, and Jane could well have written an entire play about just one of the ideas raised here – the contrast between the intellectual sterility of her mathematics and the visceral horror of her death, her place as a woman in a male-dominated field and sexless image contrasted with the focus historians and artists have placed on her beauty, the transcendent atheist philosophy that she taught contrasting with the narrow-minded Christian fundamentalism that tortured and murdered her, her place as a martyr of science and how that has overshadowed her actual work.. I think it will take at least another day or so before I’m coherent enough to really discuss all the ideas raised here...

One minor warning – the descriptions of Hypatia’s torture and death were enough to give me nightmares. It is not for the faint of heart. It was not Jane’s portrayal of a woman in indescribable agony – superb as it was – that stuck with me, so much as her final, cold and precise description of just what is involved in being flayed to death and how long it could take to die from it. As I understand it, it was hearing such a description that inspired her to write the play, and it’s certainly something that’s hard to forget.

Seriously, if you have the chance, go and see it. It is a wonderful performance.
4thofeleven: (Default)
Huh. Wikipedia claims that Medea and Achilles married in the underworld after their deaths...

Now, sure, Wikipedia isn't always the most reliable of sources, but it's generally pretty good for mythology - still, it's such an utterly random pairing I'm wondering if I'm looking at a particularly subtle example of page vandalism. I mean, you'd be hard pressed to find two characters in Greek mythology less connected that Medea and Achilles.

Still, I'm not willing to automatically dismiss it just because it makes very little sense - if I did that, I'd have to chuck out half the mythology...

Has anyone heard of this before and know what the original source would be?
4thofeleven: (Default)
Why is harbour masculine, when 'earth', 'sea' and 'ship' are all feminine? Why does 'lifeboat' bear no resemblance to 'boat'? Why is there a specific word for 'to pour libations' that bears an uncanny resemblance to the verb 'to run'? Why is there no way other than context to determine if a word is 'I enslave' or 'I am enslaved'? What on earth is meant to be the difference in pronunciation between Pi and Phi? Why does Zeus become 'Dia' when it goes into the accusative? What the hell is wrong with the third declension?

And why did I leave it this late to start revising my vocabulary for the final exam? *sigh*
4thofeleven: (Default)
So I’ve got an Ancient Greek exam coming up this week, and I’m spending a fair amount of my time before I go to bed revising for it. It’s therefore not surprising that the exam’s started to infiltrate my dreams…

In my dream, I came up with a foolproof method to pass the exam – travel to an alternate reality where everyone speaks Ancient Greek as a first language, and get my alternate counterpart to sit the exam in my place! Brilliant!

So I travel to the alternate universe, which for some reason is located in my garage, grab the alternate Greek-speaking me, take him to the lecture hall, and get off campus before anyone notices there’s two of me around…

And then I woke up, and suddenly realised the possibly fatal flaw in my brilliant scheme:

Does my Greek-fluent alternate counterpart understand English?

4thofeleven: (Default)

Alright, so in English, we have two ‘voices’, the active voice and the passive voice. Ancient Greek has both, but it also has a third voice – the ‘middle’ voice. Middle voice verbs resemble passive verbs, but act more like active verbs. Since the middle voice doesn’t exist in English, they’re hard to translate, but generally a verb in the middle voice either implies that the action is being done to oneself (eg ‘I free myself’), or – and this is pretty neat – that the action is being done for one’s own benefit. The verb that means “To carry”, for example, when used in the middle voice has the implied meaning of “To win (eg, a trophy)”. The verb "To fight" only exists in the middle; presumably because once you're in a fight, you're acting to preserve your own life - it does have the interesting implication that one cannot selflessly fight in the defense of others in Ancient Greek; there's always the implication of self-interest.

I find it kinda interesting to have a form of a verb that’s concerned with the subject’s motivation as well as their actions – it’s an unusual concept; there aren’t, to my knowledge, any major modern languages that have a middle voice. Still, I kinda like it, though it is a pain to learn.

Still not sure why the course I'm taking teaches the middle voice before the passive voice, though – it seems to me it would be easier to teach the grammatical forms that also exist in English before moving on to largely untranslatable oddities…
4thofeleven: (Default)
Huh. Turns out in Ancient Greek, a double negative equals an emphatic negative... No wonder my translations weren't making any sense...
4thofeleven: (Default)
My classics professor forwarded us this link the other day, mainly because it offers a useful Greek font. It's interesting in it's own right, though - a guy who translated Harry Potter into Ancient Greek discusses some of the linguistic and cultural issues involved in translating the text from modern English into ancient Greek...
4thofeleven: (Default)
My Ancient Greek teacher shared this anecdote this week:

She used to live in Britain, working as an actor in various performances of Greek tragedies. One play was performed in the Isle of Man, which she described as being 'a most peculiar place'.

Anyway, while she was there, she met a fellow Classicist, who made a living translating ancient Greek and Latin texts. Not into English, though - not even into Gaelic. No, he makes a living translating the classics into Manx, an offshoot of Irish with less than two thousand speakers with varying degrees of fluency...

As she put it, after meeting someone who does that for a living, it makes just about anything one is studying seem like a perfectly practical choice...

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