QUO VADIS Richard Armitage?

The longer Richard Armitage makes me wait to hear what his next project will, the less able I am to resist indulging in wild flights of fancy on the subject.   People have been throwing about all sorts of roles that Richard Armitage is rumored to be contender for, or that they would love to see him do…from comic book heroes to a charming, gentlemanly vampire (?) and more.  I thought that I might as well throw my hat into the ring with some ancient world possibilities.

The solid commercial (if not always critical) success of projects like Gladiator, Troy, Rome and Spartacus in the past 15 years, in addition to the plethora of “sword and sandal” epics in the  fifties and sixties, lends credence to the notion that films and television series set in the ancient world have wide popular appeal.  This week I was idly wondering what roles from the ancient world I’d like to see my fave appear in, which led me to taking a look around to see what stories are in the works.  A few mouse clicks, and what do I find but a section on the novelist Steven Saylor’s website that talks about the very thing.  Trawling around there, this caught my eye…

Hmmm, "What current actor could match the sheer screen presence of Charlton Heston in the campy but classic The Ten Commandments?"  I wonder?????

Hmmm, “What current actor could match the sheer screen presence of Charlton Heston in the campy but classic The Ten Commandments?” I wonder?????

I was happily contemplating Richard Armitage as Moses going to to toe with, an as yet uncast, Ramses, wooing Nefertari,  rescuing the daughters of Jethro, burning bushes, Plagues of Egypt, Exo….wait a minute – what’s that?

image

– Ergh – Foiled again!

It was great while it lasted!   I am not one to be defeated that easily, so my hunt continued and I saw any number of things that looked sort of interesting (and a few are actually in some degree of development).   Last week Perry and I were considering a version of the Roman poet Vergil’s epic tale of Aeneas, the progenitor of the Roman race – as far as I can find, this story has never been made for film or TV.    There’s been scuttlebutt for years about a feature film continuation of the HBO series Rome (please, please, please), and latent talk of a major motion picture version of Homer’s Odyssey.   My favorite prospect at the moment is this one:

It's not just TV, it's HBO!

It’s not just TV, it’s HBO!

Remakes seem to be the name of the game these days, and this one could be great.  If you’ve not seen I, Claudius, a 1976 BBC series based on the Robert Graves novel by the same name, you should.  The production value is dated now,  but it is a masterpiece on a number of levels…not to mention a who’s who of British stage and screen in the 1970’s.  The title role of the emperor Claudius was a breakout role for Derek Jacobi – that’s Sir Derek Jacobi these days.  I would be hugely interested to see what Richard Armitage would do with Claudius (or Augustus, or Tiberius, or…)  Yes, it is TV, but recent HBO efforts have definitely had cinematic qualities.  HBO and the BBC have partnered successfully before, and have garnered great casts in memorable roles.

Yes, yes, you do the, "I'd like to tell you, but - " routine very well, however...

Yes, yes, you do the, “I’d like to tell you, but – ” routine very well, however…

It certainly is fun to consider what if, but in the land of reality, please Mr. Armitage, what’s next?  I know you wouldn’t want my death on your conscience, and the suspense is KILLING me!

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

ὅ παῖς καλός – Chin up Richard Armitage…

A quick perusal through a gallery of images will confirm that Richard Armitage has perfected his version of a chin down, eyes down partial to full profile look, especially for fashion/artistic style shoots, to great effect.  I had the one below (Keith Clouston, 2011) in mind when I was walking through the Met earlier this year.

Keith Clouston for Recognize Magazine - June 2011 Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Keith Clouston for Recognize Magazine – June 2011
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Most recently, another from the plethora of images shot by Robert Ascroft in December 2012 displays a similar look in a 3/4 body pose.

I'm not looking at you.... Robert Ascroft - December 2012 Source:  richardarmitagenet.com

I’m not looking at you….
Robert Ascroft – December 2012
Source: richardarmitagenet.com

These images and this pose have struck a chord with me from day one, and I finally figured out why.  In part, I like them purely because I’m fascinated by the angular lines of his face that are set off so beautifully in profile, but also because of the quiet, contemplative tone of such images.  There is a certain serenity, but perhaps a bit of sadness.  This pose, and how Richard Armitage inhabits it reminded me distinctly of several images from Greek art…

Greek art, especially sculpture and vase painting is full of scenes of men engaged in action – athletics and warfare especially.  It is much less common to see men purely at rest, unless it is in a scene of banqueting, but those scenes don’t really convey the same sort of stillness and introspection of the images above.  For classical Greek men it seems, stillness and contemplation was reserved for situations when death was prominent.

Grave Stele from Brauron Museum of Fine Arts - Boston

Grave Stele from Brauron
Museum of Fine Arts – Boston

Above is a funeral scene where a young man in a similar pose…body relaxed, chin down, eyes down as he looks to the ground contemplating his life.  This is the figure of the deceased depicted on the stone, or stele that would have marked his burial.  This pose is quite common for funerary art…the figure of the deceased avoids eye contact with the living – a sculptural indication that he’s no longer of this world, but belongs to the Underworld.

Below, we see Odysseus in a scene from his trip to the Underworld (Odyssey, XI) in which he is conversing with the shade of his recently deceased comrade Elpenor.  Odysseus, though still alive, exhibits the same pose of quiet contemplation at he listens to Elpenor’s story. (One other place this pose frequently appears is in scenes where warriors are preparing for battle…ie, where death is a distinct possibility.)   These scenes are poignant, emotionally evocative, beautiful in their way.

Scene from Homer's Odyssey - Odysseus visits the shade of Elpenor in the Underworld Source:  Museum of Fine Arts - Boston

Scene from Homer’s Odyssey – Odysseus visits the shade of Elpenor in the Underworld
Source: Museum of Fine Arts – Boston

 Clearly, similar images of Richard Armitage are not meant to convey any notion of funerary sadness, but they do have the power to evoke strong emotional responses…I don’t think it’s accidental that photographers consistently capture this look, it’s a good one for him… ὅ παῖς καλός!

I'm still not looking at you....but you're looking at me aren't you?? Robert Ascroft - December 2012 Source:  richardarmitagenet.com

I’m still not looking at you….but you’re looking at me aren’t you??
Robert Ascroft – December 2012
Source: richardarmitagenet.com

(Incidentally, at the risk of displaying my complete ignorance of men’s fashion…are those sans-a-belt trousers?  🙂 )