ὅ παῖς καλός – Richard Armitage: Curls, glorious curls!

*Humming the tune from Oliver…*

Curls glorious curls

Oh please can I touch them?  Everybody now…curls, glorious curls!

The Armitageworld blogosphere has been buzzing since the release of images from the red carpet for the Wellington Premeire of World’s End revealed Richard Armitage sporting slightly longer hair with delicious curls, especially at his nape.

Richard Armitage walks the red carpet in Wellington July 13, 2013 Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Richard Armitage walks the red carpet in Wellington July 13, 2013
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Perry of Armitage Agonistes threw down the gauntlet here for me to connect those winsome waves to examples from the classical tradition – challenge accepted!  (I didn’t want to do laundry today anyway 🙂 )

References to curls are fairly uncommon in the literary tradition, but I did find a doozy!  In Book XVII of the Iliad, the action centers around the battle for the body of Patroklos, the cousin of Achilles who had been killed by the Trojan prince Hektor.  In the process of the battle, another Trojan hero, Euphorbos is killed.  Homer describes the fallen as folllows:

homer curls

For those not familiar with myrtle blossoms (I had to look them up) they do have a certain curl along the edge of each flower, and do resemble cropped curls when in bunches.  Myrtle blossoms had multiple uses in Greek ritual practice, so Homer’s metaphor would have been quite vivid to his original audience.

myrtle blossom

I found one depiction of the fight for Euphorbos’ body, but unfortunately, his notably curly hair is hidden under his helmet.

Curls obscured...Fight for the body of Euphorbos Source:  Wikimedia

Curls obscured…Fight for the body of Euphorbos
Source: Wikimedia

Greek art is littered with images of curly haired men.  Close cropped curls, long spiral curls, loose wavy curls, curls, curls, curls.  For me though, the most iconic head of hair in the classical tradition is that of Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μέγας – Alexander the Great.  Alexander conquered much of the known world by the age of 30 and was not known for his modesty.  Portraits of him abound, and one thing is always striking – his gorgeous wavy hair.  The faces of the portraits vary to a degree, but Alexanders are almost instantly recognizable as long as the hair is intact.

Portrait Bust of Alexander - British Museum Source:  Wikimedia Commons

Portrait Bust of Alexander – British Museum
Source: Wikimedia Commons

"Alexander Mosaic" from Pompeii Even his horse has flowing wavy locks... Source:  Wikimedia

“Alexander Mosaic” from Pompeii
Even his horse (his name was Bucephalos) has flowing wavy locks…
Source: Wikimedia

Macedonia coin of Alexander as Ammon *note the nape curls everyone! Source:  Wikimedia

Macedonia coin of Alexander as Ammon
*note the nape curls everyone!
Source: Wikimedia

Let’s come in a little closer on captivating curls of Richard Armitage shall we?

Exhibit C...for curls obviously! Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com (my zoom/crop)

Exhibit C…for curls obviously!
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com (my zoom/crop)

Pardon the pixelation, but I submit that if someone were to get his or her fingers in there and tousle up those neatly combed waves… any volunteers?  I thought so…get in line!  My blog, I get to go first 🙂 ….  Sorry, my point was that if we ran our fingers through his hair a bit he’d come out the other side with a vertibly Alexandrine ‘do.  I have to go and compose myself now…ὅ παῖς καλός!!

Sing to me, O Muse! : Richard Armitage and InspiRAtion

For those who don’t know, I live in Wisconsin.  In addition to a reputation for cheese and beer, Wisconsin is a state prone to wild swings in weather.  Subzero temperatures and snow falling by the foot in the winter, extreme heat and humidity in the summer.

This never seems to get old to me...

This never seems to get old to me…

Today is one of those “dog days of summer” that makes me remember the icy winds of January fondly – there’s no pleasing some people is there?  To make things even better, the A/C is out in my car, and now the passenger window had decided not to open.  Suffice it to say that today’s fifty minute commute in 90+ degree heat left me feeling more than a little wilted.  I arrived at my office in need of some serious inspiration!

I walked into the office and this is what I see:

Making special note of circled area...

Magnetic wall in my office:  make special note of circled area…

Ahhh,  I’m feeling better already!  I love the 1st birthday cake pic of my daughter and the collage of Greece, but Richard Armitage seems to act as some sort of balm for me from time to time.  Suddenly, I was feeling inspired, so I mapped out another section of Recovery.

When it comes to inspiRAtion for me (and a whole lot of others in the fandom from the looks of it) Richard Armitage certainly functions as a personal Muse.  The Greek Muses were a collection of goddesses who functioned as the personification and “patron” divinities of arts, literature and science.  The earliest references name three, but by the classical period their number was firmly set at nine.  They are most often identified as the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the personification of memory).  The Greeks believed that The Muses epitomized the arts and inspired creativity through their own artistic and literary works.  By the later Hellenistic period, each Muse became associated with a particular genre of creativity and could be identified visually by an emblem or attribute.

muses table

Even earlier than this it became customary for writers to call upon the Muses for inspiration at the beginning of a literary work.  Below are the first lines of three famous poems:

muse quotes

Homer is “writing” very early in the Greek literary tradition, so it is in no way surprising that he does not refer to a particular Muse by name (in this case Calliope, since The Iliad and The Odyssey are epic poems), but simply refers to her as “Goddess” or “Muse”.  The Latin poet Vergil, writing in the 1st century BC, would have been well aware that Calliope was the Muse specific to epic poetry, but rather than name her, he also simply invokes the “Muse”.  This is almost certainly a deliberate homage to Homer.  Regardless, this tradition of calling upon a Muse for inspiration was one started by the Greeks that is still in use today.

I think it might be rather difficult to associate Richard Armitage with a specific area of inspiration…he seems to inspire many different people in a variety of different ways.  Some are inspired to create original artworks based on him or one of the characters he brought to life, others write stories or poems while still others create fan vids or write and record original songs.  Everytime I think I’ve seen it all, something new emerges.

One thing though seems to be timeless… “Sing to me O Muse, a song of…..SQUEEEE!!”

Look...even the interviewer is doing it!!  Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Look…even the interviewer is doing it!!
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Given his immense and, seemingly, effortless ability to inspire, perhaps we really should inaugurate a new Muse:

Armitage bumps out Sappho as the 10th Muse... Source:  Wikimedia with a little help from richardarmitagenet.com

Armitage bumps out Sappho as the 10th Muse…
Source: Wikimedia with a little help from richardarmitagenet.com

Richard Armitage and Achilles – tRAgic lovers

There are a multitude of stories about the Greek hero Achilles…Homer’s epic poem The Iliad , focuses on Achilles’ rage at being thwarted by the expedition commander Agamemnon.  Achilles’ reputation was that of the greatest of the Greek warriors assembled before the walls of Troy but I don’t want to talk about Achilles the warrior today.   I’ve been thumbing through images of Achilles lately an came across one that refers to one of the few “romantic” stories in his mythology.

This part of Achilles’ story is set shortly after the action of The Iliad, when Achilles  has rejoined the Greeks in battling the Trojans.  Penthesilea (Pen-theh-si-lay-uh) was the queen of the Amazons, a mythical tribe of warrior women who lived on the fringe of Greek society.   Penthesilea was crippled by grief after accidentally killing her sister in a hunting accident. (is there no end of tragedy for these mythological characters?)  She agreed to fight with the Trojans against the Greeks because it offered her the opportunity to end her misery by dying an honorable warrior’s death – a requirement of an Amazonian queen.  There are several variations of the story, but in all of them, Penthesilea and Achilles meet on the battlefield, and powerful as she is, she is no match for Achilles who deals her a fatal blow.

Penthesilea1

Penthesilea dies in Achilles arms
Cup from Vulci, around 460 BC
Munich / Germany, Antikensammlungen 2688.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

One way or another, Penthesilea’s ends up in Achilles arms as she dies.  Several versions recount that their eyes meet and they fall instantly in love just as she dies.

Achilles and Penthesilea - The Look of Love Detail of image above

Achilles and Penthesilea – The Look of Love
Detail of image above

In the detailed image above we can see this moment depicted…damage to the vase obscures Achilles slightly, but one can still make out the connected gaze between the two figures as Achilles drives his sword home just below Penthesilea’s chin.  This is among my top ten most evocative moments in Greek myth and it is incredibly similar to a scene between Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne and Lucy Griffiths as Maid Marian in Robin Hood – the infamous death scene of course.

Death of Marian Robin Hood S2.12 Screen Cap courtesy of www.richardarmitagenet.com

Death of Marian
Robin Hood S2.12
Screen Cap courtesy of http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Only seconds after he’s stabbed her, Guy supports Marian’s dying weight as she looks up and their eyes meet.  According to Robin Hood’s writers the emotion of the scene is vastly different, at least from Marian’s point of view, but the composition is eerily similar.

Richard Armitage is famously quiet regarding his personal life, (which is fine by me) but I don’t think I’m speculating too wildly to suppose that he couldn’t possibly be as tRAgic in love as either Achilles or Guy… especially since ending love affairs at sword point is highly frowned upon these days.  Here’s hoping for a much less classical ending for him in real life!