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ὅ παῖς καλός: Veristic Armitage

I came across an edit of a plaster head cast of Richard Armitage last evening at preoccupiedwitharmitage.  It struck me as very Roman looking.  When jholland directed me to the original image (which I honestly don’t remember seeing before) 

my reaction was an immediate, “Holy Roman verism!!”  Verism is a style of potrait sculpture that was common in Rome in the Republican period (509-30BC)  It was a sort of warts and all approach that resulted in a product that was a much more true to life portrait than the idealized examples from the Greek sculptural tradition.

Even more than veristic portraits of the living though, this cast is similar to representations of Roman ancestor busts.

A Roman Patrician with his ancestors...or one of them anyway....

A Roman Patrician with his ancestors…or one of them anyway….

It’s the portrait masks though that take the uncanny factor to a new level.  Cast in wax soon after an individual’s death, they were venerated in the home and carried in celebratory processions.  None survive today, but an experiment at Cornell University recreated what they probably looked like.

Imagines maiorum Source

Imagines maiorum

Take another look:


Uncannily Roman…

ὅ παῖς καλός

Sometimes I REALLY wish I could say what I’m thinking Richard Armitage!

But I can’t…at least not out loud.  I’m in this position a lot as I carefully navigate my way as an intermediary between faculty and administration in budget infested waters…discretion is the better part of not being pushed out of the boat.  This week though, a stunningly funny example came up in the discussion forum of an online section of my ROME movie class.Students were instructed to comment on the charcterizations of the various female personalities of ROME..what roles did they play in public and in private?  How does the series characterization differ from what historical sources tell us?  Pretty standard fare…pretty predictable range of responses until I got to this one:

“In the series it seems that the main women characters talk with a British accent. The accent isn’t historically accurate and misrepresents where the women are located.”

Say what now?!

Say what now?!

I read it a few more times to make sure it said what I thought it said and then I laughed as I copied it, name redacted for protection of the foolish, to some of my colleagues as a small dose of humor.  As I sat and tried to decide how to respond, my first inclination was to be snippily literal and reply:

Verum est , quod Romani non Britannum loquantur . Effectrix cogito , in societate BBC HBO, iudicavi mittere in Latin Edition quia pauci sic miserabiliter amplius loqui Latine . Datum est conflatio molem in Britannia Britannorum consilium ut Latine loqui *non* poposcit . In locis serie litterarum quoque notandum est, quod Graece * non * et forsitan loquitur Scotica Britannum accentus quoque!

Subtitle: It is true in that the Romans did not speak English. I’m thinking that the producers, the BBC in partnership with HBO, made the decision to shoot the series in English since so lamentably few people speak Latin anymore. Given that the bulk of the cast is British the decision was made to *not* speak Latin with British accents. At points during the series, we should note that the characters are also *not* speaking Greek and probably Gaelic with British accents too!

I know…it IS snarky in the extreme, but some days, the level of dumbassery thrown at me is overwhelming and I crack.  This wasn’t one of those days though…I thought about it and decided that the inevitable fallout wasn’t worth the momentary satisfaction.  It was too good not to share though.

The whole thing made me think how tedious it is to have to censor myself all the time.  Don’t get me wrong.  I  have no inclination to run around trying to be extra offensive to everyone I meet, but from time to time, it would be refreshing to just say, “WTF are you talking about?!”in response to some fresh weirdness.

Oops!  Did I say that out loud?! Source

Oops! Did I say that out loud?!

Spinning it out, I wondered how challenging it might be to monitor myself if more than a few people at a time were actually paying attention.  No doubt one of the tricks of the celebrity trade…I have to admit though, I’m do love it when his filter slips from time to time :)

Ἐννοσίγαιε & ἵππων τε δμητῆρ: Richard Armitage and Poseidon

“Earth Shaker” and “Tamer of Horses” are two of the most common epithets of the Greek god Poseidon.  Among the first generation of Olympian gods, Poseidon is a brother to the king of the gods, Zeus.  When he, Zeus and their other brother Hades drew lots to divvy up the cosmos, Poseidon drew the sea.


This spectacular, bronze (a bit over life size at 6’10” – 209cm) of a bearded male god dating to around 460 BC is an excellent example of the early Classical “Severe Style.”  Debate on his identity has raged since the late 1920’s when he was discovered on the sea bed off the coast of Cape Artemision.  The position of his left hand indicates that he would have originally held something, but whether that something was a thunderbolt of Zeus or a trident of Poseidon is lost to time.  The debate rages on, but he is quite commonly identified as a Poseidon simply because he was found in the sea.

Mentions of the name Poseidon exist as early as the late Bronze Age in the Linear B texts of the Mycenaean Greeks…although the deity seems to have been connected to the underworld rather than the sea.  By the time Greece recovered from its dark age, Poseidon had emerged as a full fledged sea god of great importance to the resurgent maritime culture of the Greeks who prayed to him to watch over them at sea.  He was the patron divinity of numerous Greek city states and was second only to Athena in importance in Athens as a civic deity.  The “earth shaker” was ever present in a region regularly touched by earthquakes.  I’ve always found it rather interesting that this aquatic god was also commonly associated with something so connected to the land as horses.  The “tamer of horses,” then taught that skill to mankind.

I think Poseidon may be the only Olympian I’ve left untouched after two years – not surprising that I struggled to find some usable parallels between the god of the sea and the dude who dislikes deep water!  But then lo and behold, along came Pilgrimage…which appears to be a kind of medieval road trip movie tracing the journey to carry a holy relic from Ireland to Rome.

Any way you slice it, a medieval journey from Ireland to anywhere in continental Europe required crossing water, and, where there are swords in medieval Europe, there are usually horses, so Poseidon nicely fits the bill for a little pagan production blessing…call it “covering all the bases”  :)

It certainly looks as if at least part of the Pilgrimage cast is getting ready to get wet….

Hard to say right now if Richard Armitage will be on the boat, but I’m just guessing the water crossing will not be a calm one. (that would be kind of boring wouldn’t it?)  I think an homage to the god of the sea is well in order to ward of monk tossing waves.  As to the “tamer of horses”?   I’d bet there’ll be some horse “taming” going on in this film as well…it’s an awfully long walk across Europe after all!

There's not a horse scene in The Red Dragon is there?

There’s not a horse scene in The Red Dragon is there?

Where’s the Ἐννοσίγαιος you ask?  I really hope there’s no sign of the “earth shaker” personality of Poseidon in the near future!


%$@#! Monday….


Monday’s usually don’t bother me much…unlike a lot of people, I have the option of whether to go to work or not.  I regularly teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I’ve been distributing the “part-time” job duties throughout the rest of the week.  Depending on what’s going on, I can easily work from home or not at all (which is a relative term since laundry washes itself for no one!).  Today though – when the traditional students are on Easter break, one of my own kids is on Easter break?  I’m sitting at my desk trying (and failing since I’m blogging ;)  ) to reconcile a dispute where I seem to be the only party involved actually at work today.  GRRR.

Double Grumble Monday – especially since Easter Sunday was pretty good.  It started out a little rocky.  We have a new minister whom I really like a lot, but he is a little…um…freeform (?) when it comes to the order of service.  This often serves to discombobulate people – in this case Showbiz Kid who had volunteered to read liturgy and,grudgingly, to sing.  He’s usually a pretty cool customer when it comes to performance wrinkles, but following the debacle of Sheet Music Saturday (e-music downloads are kind of dicey if one can only see the first page of the music) he was a little edgy.  Then pastor switched up the service which made him even more edgy…then someone else used the wireless mike, after which it switched to standby resulting in it not being on at all when ShowBiz stepped up to sing.  He didn’t notice immediately…his accompanist couldn’t hear him…they were out of sync…he was not happy.   People still approached him with compliments.  God bless my home church congregation 1.  By and large they don’t notice or don’t care about imperfection and 2.  They love my kid.

Here’s a track where he’s not out of sync with his accompanist:

All in all, it was a great service and we had a hilarious chat with our super quirky organist who I love dearly – he’s moving to Austin, TX soon and I’m going to miss him horribly.  Following the service, ShowBiz and I (MiniMe hitched a ride with my mom and sister) ran home to finish the last thing I left undone Saturday – my salad contribution to the Easter Brunch spread.  The tradition in my family is that the host provides the house and the meat…the guests fill out the buffet table.   Good food made by good cooks is something of a tradition in my family – part of our culture even, so there is never a lack of it…to the contrary usually.  Yesterday witnessed a pretty usual spread of ham, potato pancakes, homemade mac & cheese and a great variety of salads.  Even my picky eater (he’s well known for only eating bread at these things) found a plateful of food.  As we were switching over to the dessert course, my cousins and I were laughingly wondering if there isn’t some pathology at work here:

BTW... caramel and dulce de leche are too different and I did not try all six. - I don't like Scotcheroos ;)

BTW… caramel and dulce de leche are too different and I did not try all six. – I don’t like Scotcheroos ;)

ShowBiz and I found our way home for naptime by around 4pm…MiniMe stayed a little longer to play.  I like early holiday parties…there’s the possibility of doing something else in the late afternoon and evening – even if the something else is napping and watching TV (anyone else tune in to The Ten Commandments?).

I should have just left well enough alone, but since I’m running several online classes who’s new course week started at 00:00 hours today, I popped into my campus mail to make sure no one was looking for me.  Bad idea.  I happened across an email that has kept me annoyed for going on 12 hours now – more so because the subject is at an impasse until another party weighs in.  I HATE not being able to resolve issues, and this one has been hanging for the better part of a week now without movement toward resolution as we approach midway through Monday CST.  Grumble.

On the plus side….large lattes are only $1 today at my local coffee shop!!

Here’s to a less grumblesome (if caffeine saturated) Monday for all Armitageworld!

et alia: It’s Pre-Easter Saturday Armitageworld

Hot of the heels of the sleepover from hell on Thursday night, inheriting class #5 in addition to my “part time” administrative post on Friday, I found myself seriously overbooked today as well.  To document it, I decided to write down the majority of todays agenda.  The next time I start to give myself grief about not getting anything done, I’m going to take out this list…

easter snip

I could have cried when I drove up to the restaurant and saw that they aren’t open for lunch…on Saturday…What gives?!  No matter – we had an excellent meal at the 2nd option…p.s.  I still stink at chop sticks!

easter snip 2

Now, when MiniMe asks, “Mom…why are you drinking Mt. Dew KickStart?”  I can simply reply, “See above.”

The baskets are filled…strangely, not a Sephora gift card in sight (have I mentioned that my daughter is 9?)   Sephora gift cards…as if!!  I think the last of the Kick in that Mt Dew KickStart has dissipated enough that I can finally sleep – good thing.  Tomorrow starts less than 7 hours from now :)

See you on Easter Sunday Armitageworld!

inter alia: Why the fu*lalalala* are we CREATING lacunae?

Lacunae.  Bane to the existence of anyone who studies the ancient world (or any other world that involves the reading of “elderly” manuscripts and inscriptions.) One minute you’re reading along on your New Testament papyrus, happy as a clam and the next mi

Lacuna…or lacunae as the case may be.  That is, places were the text has been lost due to some sort of damage to the manuscript.  This one…P.Yale I 3 with its mirroring areas of damage looks to have been accidentally caused.  It’s an unfortunate reality that ancient writing materials, like papyrus and vellum, become very brittle over time and handling them in any way often causes damage which obscures the text.  Because of lacunae, we are often limited in what we are actually able to make out from what remains of ancient texts, and what has been lost forever.  P.Yale I 3 is a relatively complete example…and it is not the only copy of this section of text, so the missing material can be reliably reconstructed for much of the damaged sections.  That is not always the case.

latin lacunae

There is considerably less preserved of this Latin inscription which was carved in marble.  It is clearly a small piece of a larger inscription, and though one can make out some words, any real meaning has been lost.  The following is what epigraphers have to say about this fragment:

No earth shattering new information about the Romans to be found here…it is just a frustrating reality of dealing with material that is hundreds or thousands of years old.  Lacunae happen.

It’s bad enough when lacunae happen because of accidents of preservation, but somehow it is even worse when we know that the material may have survived intact if it had not been tampered with by someone or another, either ancient or modern.  The monuments of the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Hatshepsut were deliberately defaced after her death to obscure her name from the records.  The ancient Romans practiced something called damnatio memoriae which was an effort to wipe the history clean of any and all mentions of a certain individual.  In more recent times, “erotic” art from the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum was locked away for centuries in the “Secret Cabinet” because it was deemed too racy for public display.  Censorship…or attempted censorship…is nothing new.  People have been trying to enforce it in varying degrees forever and by it’s very nature, it creates lacunae.

The most recent foray into a brave new electronic world of attempted censorship was pointed out to me by my SpReAd the Love partner in crime, JazzBaby.  It’s called CleanReader and it has been causing quite a kerfluffle in the literary community, as evidenced by a simple Google search.

clean reader snip

In a nutshell, it is an app available for Android and iDevices that enables one to “clean” a selection of e-books of the dirtiness…you know *those* words.  Redacting text is nothing new…readers have always had the ability to take their very own Sharpie and blot out any words they found objectionable…CleanReader takes it into the digital world of the e-book and provides a handy preselected dictionary of replacements for all that nastiness in otherwise great works of literature.  Of course it begs the question as to why, if you have an aversion of profanity or obscenity, or human anatomy, you’d want to read a book that is rampant with “swears”, but let’s leave that little wrinkle aside for the time being and take a look at a page of text cleaned by CleanReader:


Do you see what it did right there?  It’s CREATED lacunae in an originally complete text.  Why the  ♦  would we want to do that?!  Now granted, if you tap on the little blue button, the app will provide you with a acceptably “clean” replacement for the original word, but do you also see how the deliberate lacunae ultimately break up the original text and inhibit the flow of the language as it was carefully crafted by the author?  I just don’t get it.

As a nascent writer, there are any number of things that frost my buns about this whole thing, but I’ll only touch on one or two….One goes back to what I mentioned above…if you can’t bear to read a book without altering it’s original voice to satisfy your need for purity of verbiage, perhaps you should just choose another book.  (I have it on good authority that are plenty out there that have no need for CleanReader sanitation).  I try to keep the language relatively clean here (which is often a struggle given my ongoing project of compiling a lexicon of creative derivitives of “fk”  – to the eternal dismay of my mother) but to be plain, if you don’t care for my vulgar language, don’t read my    ♦      book.  I don’t care to read Fifty Shades of Grey, but I also don’t need to “clean” it to make it more palatable to my personal standards.  

The second major issue I have with this whole concept is that some arbitrary someone, in some arbitrary somewhere (the Bible Belt apparently) chose the words that would be used as replacements for all the “naughties.”   There is a deliberate agenda at play here that makes me very, very uncomfortable as a writer and as a reader.  Should people have a right to choose what they read?  Absolutely.  Should they have a right to profit from the unsanctioned alteration of what someone else has copyrighted…I don’t think so.

Pigs must be flying somewhere, because I’m suddenly a whole lot less bothered by ancient lacunae.  At the very least, they are rarely filled in with scrubbed language.  And thank   ♦   for that!

Read the  ♦  on Armitageworld


For the record…Richard Armitage unwittingly contributed to the “clean” conversation on Twitter while this post was in process…small world.  (In which if one’s eyes and ears are that innocent, they probably are very uncomfortable on Twitter on a regular day.)


That’s right – it’s my blogiversary….my SECOND blogiversary!!  

ribbons gif

Before I go any further I want to say THANK YOU to each and every person who has ever passed through here…even the spammers!   I am always mildly surprised to look at my stats…“Well look at that – there are people who come here…and then come back for more!”  :)  It is a highlight of my day to see new people wander in and look around, and especially to “talk” with friends I’ve made in this virtual world.

Two years, and I feel like I have only scratched the surface of things to talk about…I have yet to finish my tour through the Olympian Gods (I’ve been kind of dabbling with Poseidon lately…I wonder if there’s a water hazard coming up on Pilgrimage?)  I was looking over the Roman Virtues yesterday and realized there’s plenty more of those to cover.  Of course, once I solve my download issues, I will finally tackle the Sophocles-Armitage connection vis-à-vis The Crucible.  Things have definitely slowed down here lately as I’ve been trying to adjust to my new career situation.  With massive budget cuts looming, I imagine there will be angst on that front for some time.  All the more reason to spend more time here….budget cuts I can’t do much about…Richard Armitage and the Classical Tradition?  I’m all over that!

So, how to mark the 2nd Blogiversary?  I was thinking about it yesterday, and of course I clicked right over to the “Anniversary Gifts by Year” website to investigate.  Anniversary two is traditionally marked by gifts of the COTTON variety.  Hmmm…what sort of cotton mementos could I come up with?

An appropriately blog themed T-shirt?

blogiversary shirt

Not a bad choice….could do it in a variety of fashion colors…

What else?  Linens maybe?

Hmmm -  tempting... Source

Hmmm – tempting…

I thought about it…for about a minute.   I already have a king sized pillow that my husband refers to as my “boyfriend” – he’s a pretty good sport, but I’m guessing this might be slightly OTT even for him.

However…with some modification…

Perfect! (Is there anything you can't customize on the internet?)

(Is there anything you can’t customize on the internet?)

I can see it now…my own line of Ancient Armitage cotton apparel and linens!


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