Modus Operandi Obscurae…


Here I am, bringing up the rear again…it’s like 6th grade gym class all over again  😉

The third question on the 15 Day Blog Introspection Challenge is to describe one’s usual blogging process.  Hmmm.  From a logistical standpoint, it’s fairly consistent – I blog directly into the WordPress textbox in the “Visual” mode.  This is harder or easier depending on the device I’m using – easiest on a PC, hardest on the iPad – yep, actually easier on my Android phone – something about WP and iPad is not sympatico, but I’ve made them all work in a pinch.  I think I’ve only had to re-create one mostly complete post from scratch since I’ve been pretty luck with the auto-save function.

I’m not a big draft writer.  Sometimes I draft a title as a reminder of a topic, but I just checked, and there is currently nothing kicking around in the “Drafts” tab.  That’s not to say there’s nothing in various stages of completion that I haven’t applied to text yet…(ie, it’s kicking around in my head, waiting for clarity or opportunity to present itself)  I generally write a post over a period of a few minutes to a few hours, edit it, publish it, curse at the missed typos, edit it again and update.  (I almost never post date publication because I’m totally paranoid that it won’t work.)

As far as what leads me to a particular topic?  That is a varied and sundry thing.  Sometimes I have a piece of artwork in mind that leads me to a comparison to Richard Armitage..


Sometimes I see an image of Richard Armitage and “eureka!!”

It’s a little different process for each of the different post variation.  ὅ παῖς καλός posts are celebrations of the physical beauty of the man and his component parts, while the Roman Virtues series began as a reflection on a level of GRAVITAS that I perceived…and generally expands when I’m struck by some behavior or action by Richard Armitage that connects me back to the virtues.  Sometimes something completely random strikes me Armitag-y.  Sometimes I have a thought in the car on my commute, sometimes I have an unexpectedly sweet dream…

I don’t really plan a whole lot.  Usually, posts happen pretty organically.  In fact, every time I try to implement some kind of structure, something wonky happens that derails it –like the time I rushed to post a news tidbit that inadvertently displayed my university email address on it…oops –  and I revert to a more or less natural flow of ideas.  I kind of like it that way…I find that if I try to plan too much, the whole thing feels forced, and I’d far prefer sporadic spontaneity to scheduled stiffness.  (sorry…I did it again!!).

I’m not sure if that is exactly the answer that I was going for, but, that’s my “organic” response (and it’s 10:30pm and I have an hour commute home on deck…) so I’m going with the flow.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it 🙂



“Severe” Stylin’: Richard Armitage and Apollo commanding stillness

North & South - E1 Source

North & South – E1

There it is…my first official, in context, look at Richard Armitage as John Thornton.  Melee is all around him.  Machinery is spinning and humming, cotton dust is floating haphazardly, but he is motionless, unruffled, as he surveys the activities of his factory.  The stillness amid chaos of this scene called to mind a classical comparison to the god Apollo.  Well, naturally…  😉

Sculptures from the West Pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (my pic)

Sculptures from the West Pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (my pic)

The figure of Apollo is central in the scene above, his right arm raised.  The extreme stillness of Apollo is marked in this scene given the amount of mayhem that is unfolding around him.  This is a famous scene from Greek myth called the Centauromachy…or the Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs.  Long story short, the Lapiths were a group of humans who were throwing a wedding, and they didn’t want to invite their rude, crude neighbors the Centaurs.  The Centaurs (half man, half horse) took offense to this slight and crashed the reception…cue mayhem.

Centauromachy in progress

Centauromachy in progress

Looking at the images above, it is clear that this is battle is not depicted in such a way as to convey a great deal of the action that was going on.  This almost serene battle scene is in keeping with the aesthetic of the period (ca 490-450 BC) which is known as the Severe Style.  I’ve always found the close up of the woman and centaur above rather humorous in this respect.  Look at her face…does she appear to be in much distress?  That placid face is a hallmark of the Severe Style which valued a serenity of composition over a depiction of action.  A quick look a depiction of the same subject sculpted about 50 years later illustrates a changing aesthetic:

Centauromachy from the Temple of Apollo at Bassai (now in British Museum)

Centauromachy from the Temple of Apollo at Bassai (now in British Museum)

Turning back to our central Apollo…even amidst the admittedly subdued chaos, Apollo stands apart as unusually still…his outstretched arm held stiffly aloft as he commands attention.

Apollo's message is pretty clear..."I SAID STOP! Source:  Wikimedia Commons

Apollo’s message is pretty clear…”I SAID STOP!
Source: Wikimedia Commons

This ability to command a scene through stillness is a quality that numerous people have remarked upon when describing Richard Armitage.  At the Tokyo premiere of The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson said, “Richard is one of those very rare actors, [who] uses stillness, and he uses quiet to draw your attention.”    More recently, a fellow fan, Grace, who had the opportunity to see Richard Armitage perform in the Pinter Proust adaptation at the 92nd Street Y in New York, commented along the same lines, “He can stand absolutely still for long periods of time (it’s almost eerie.”

still command

I’ve no doubt that a more comprehensive tour through the pantheon of Richard Armitage chaRActers would reveal a wide selection of “commanding stillness” shots, but for now, I think this one does nicely.


Richard Armitage (ok, Guy of Gisborne) and Apollo: Spurned Lovers

The character of Guy of Gisborne (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) in Robin Hood (BBC 2006-2009) is a rich source for classical comparisons.  I’m returning to another story of the Greek god Apollo for this one.  As I mentioned here, Apollo was one of the most renowned of the gods in the Greek pantheon, and like his father Zeus, in addition to all of his supernatural powers, he also seems to have had a supernatural libido…in layman’s terms – Apollo was a major player.  The fact that some of his would be lovers were were noticeably repulsed by him didn’t seem to be much of a hindrance to Apollo.  Convinced of his own irresistibly, he pursued a number of human women and nymphs who turned him down repeatedly.  Unfortunately (for the women and nymphs) Apollo’s refusal to take “no” for an answer usually put them into a difficult circumstance.

A story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses gives a great example of this tendency of Apollo – complete with two gods having a pissing contest (pardon my  language 🙂 – RA isn’t the only one who gets to throw out off color slang around here!)  over the relative size of their weapons.  You can find a translation of the whole story here, but the nuts and bolts of it go something like this:

The great archer Apollo is teasing Eros (Cupid) about how tiny his eensy weensy little bow and arrows are.  What Apollo apparently forgot was that Eros’ arrows might be tiny, but they packed a huge wallop – one that not even the other gods were immune to.  To prove the might of his weapon he shoots Apollo with a golden arrow causing him to fall in love with the first person he sees…in this case the nymph Daphne.  To really drive the point home, Eros shoots Daphne with a lead arrow, causing her to be turned off by Apollo in a big way…the result?  He sees her and falls madly in lurve…she sees him (and presumably the acute case of bedroom eyes he’s shooting at her) and takes off running.  The chase is on!

Even a nimble Naiad like Daphne can’t outrun the great god Apollo forever.  Just at the point that he catches her, (beautifully articulated in marble by the Italian sculptor Bernini) she appeals to her father, the god of a local river to help her escape Apollo.  Her father does so by turning her into a tree…a laurel tree (we might know it better as the tree that produces bay leaves in the US).

Apollo and Daphne Source:  Wikimedia Commons

Apollo and Daphne
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Apollo mourns his “lost” love by making a wreath of the leaves that sprout from her as the metamorphosis is complete.  The laurel becomes a sacred tree to Apollo and the laurel wreath one of his frequent attributes.   (You might think that Apollo would learn from this episode…um, not so much!)

I noticed a certain similarity between Apollo and his inability to leave Daphne alone and Guy of Gisborne’s refusal to take no for an answer in his persistent pursuit of Marian.  One scene struck me as particularly similar to the scene above between Apollo and Daphne.

Marian strains away from Guy's embrace (Robin Hood S1 E11) Source:

Marian strains away from Guy’s embrace (Robin Hood S1 E11)

Guy has caught the object of his desire, but as he leans in to kiss her, she very clearly strains away from him before he can reach her.  (Right about now I’m yelling at my TV… “What is wrong with you woman?!”)   Marian’s poor taste in lovers aside, like Apollo, Guy’s caught her, but he won’t be able to keep her.   A moment later, lacking the intercession of a divine father, she wrenches away and flees from him.  One might think that Guy might take the hint and find more accessible prey, but like Apollo, he will pursue her desperately – to no good end for either of them.

Psst…Apollo?  Guy?  Hint…if a girl runs away or would rather turn into a tree than kiss you…she’s just not that into you!  (Don’t worry, there are plenty of us who are! 🙂 )

Richard Armitage and Apollo concentRAte

Sometimes things just seem to come together.  I was scrolling through some images last night and found one of the Greek god Apollo that resonated with a screen cap of Richard Armitage from “Hood Academy” that I’d seen resurface on Tumblr this week.  Here I am to share it with you.  If you’ve come across any classical mythology in your travels, you’ll probably have learned that the Greek gods often have Roman equivalents:   Greek Zeus = Roman Jupiter, Greek Aphrodite = Roman Venus, etc.  Such is not the case with Apollo.  For the Greeks, and later the Romans, Apollo had numerous areas of influence.  He was associated with art, music and literature and is often depicted playing a lyre.  The nine Muses who govern all things artistic and intellectual reported to Apollo.  He was also associated with light/the sun, as well as with healing and prophecy.  There was no god like him in the Roman pantheon, so the Romans simply worshiped Apollo as Apollo.

Apollo and his twin sister Artemis, the goddess of the hunt were also associated with the bow.  Interestingly, Apollo’s association with the bow and archery was connected to neither hunting nor military use, but rather with the skill and concentration required for accuracy.  One famous story about Apollo and his bow is depicted on the kRAter below (BTW…I am not singling out the kRAter shape… rather the RA related material I find turns up on them…fate?)

Apollo takes aim at a Niobid Source: Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

Apollo takes aim at a Niobid
Source: Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

According to myth, a human woman named Niobe had bragged that since she had fourteen children, she must be superior to the nymph Leto who had borne only Apollo and Artemis.  This kind of boasting was guaranteed to earn Niobe a swift and harsh punishment.  The Greeks valued achievement, but perceived that there was a fine line between being proud and being too proud.  Those who were too proud were prone to hubris and almost always met a bad end at the hands of one or another offended deity.  This vase painting shows us Apollo and Artemis avenging their mother’s reputation by shooting down all of the Niobids (the children of Niobe).

apollo niobid close up

In the detail above we can see the steady determination of Apollo, depicted here as an unbearded youth, as he takes aim at a Niobid.  I thought this image seemed familiar, and then I remembered that earlier in the week, I’d seen this one:

Richard Armitage at Hood Academy Source:

Richard Armitage at Hood Academy

I’m fairly certain that Richard Armitage is not taking aim at a Niobid, or any other living thing, but his focus on the target is just as fixed as that of Apollo’s in the vase painting above.  Armitage and Apollo:  concentRAting archers.  There is one possible similarity that I cannot confirm…

tongue of concentration

Does Apollo employ the Tongue of ConcentRAtion too?