Saturday, October 22, 2016

VftSW: Review of Let's Do the Time Warp Again!"

Last night we watched "Rocky Horror Picture Show; Let's Do the Time Warp Again!"  My wife asked what I thought.

Much of it was much better than the original; better singing and acting.  Having a band performing at the party really helped transition to the musical acts.  Shots of the audience were great and helped make sense of Dr, F's swan-song. 
 It was really sweet having Tim Curry perform as the Narrator.  It looked like he was having a hard time, but great that he did it.  
Ivy Levan as the Usherette did an incredible job on the introduction.  
Oh and the Floor the original even the most hardcore Franky Fan was embarrassed into awkward silence by the uncomfortably erotic "Floor Show". The new one is much more "survivable". 
 I  was struck by the final shot of Rocky and Dr. F’s hands posed as Adam and God’s hands in Da Vinci’s spark of life.





Wednesday, October 19, 2016

TFBT: troy by Nick McCarty

My wife was tidying up the coffee table. "Is this yours?" She asked. She was holding a coffee table book on Troy.  Apparently  I bought it at the monthly used book sale at the library.  McMarty's book is excellently well written. He combines a retelling of the Trojan Cycle (with historical sidebars) with the story of Heinrich Schliemann.  Schliemann discovered the lost city of Troy.

McMarty's description of Schliemann is repeatedly not flattering.  (Think of Homer describing Thersites.). But McMarty compares hime to Achilles in his single mindness in getting his own way.  ( I have noticed in science how often the dogged determination of one person was the key to the next great leap in our knowledge.)
My wife was tidying up the coffee table. "Is this yours?" She asked. She was holding a coffee table book on Troy.  Apparently  I bought it at the monthly used book sale at the library.  McMarty's book is excellently well written. He combines a retelling of the Trojan Cycle (with historical sidebars) with the story of Heinrich Schliemann.  Schliemann discovered the lost city of Troy.

McMarty's description of Schliemann is repeatedly not flattering.  (Think of Homer describing Thersites.). But McMarty compares hime to Achilles in his single mindness in getting his own way.  ( I have noticed in science how often the dogged determination of one person was the key to the next great leap in our knowledge.) 
"It was a momentous discovery that destroyed the prejudice of the blind academics who had mocked him....without Schliemann we would know nothing of the city that many believe is the site of the real Troy."

McCarty's book is full of ancient and modern images.  At first I noticed a few errors more typos than anything like Thebes/Thebe.  Some of dialogue is straight from the Iliad and other is pure poetic license.
"the stunted willow trees along the River Scamander bore strange fruit.  The black carrion crows perched in the trees..."

"Words fail me to celebrate our marriage At all times you were to me a loving wife, a good companion and a dependable guide in difficult situations. As well as a dear companion of the road and a mother second to none...Therefore today I Promise that I shall marry you again in a future life." Schliemann

"Helen more lovely than the Moon."

Midway through the book (the death of Patroclus) I began to. Notice the errors running amok.  McCarty didn't realize that Diomedes, son of Tydeus is the same person as Tydides (Son of Tydeus). This account of the Iliadic portion of the story of Troy was totally made up.  I gave up reading.  The last image I recall was a black and white image.  It was the musemum boombed out by the Allies where Schliemann's legay was last seen

Sunday, October 9, 2016

TFBT: More Random Notes on Euripides' Helen

As mentioned previously I am preparing for Hour 25’s Book Club | October 2016: Euripides’ Helen  to be held on Tuesday, October 25, at 11 a.m. EDT.  Here are second and final set of comments. 

First thanks to Sarah for sharing the “name, name and epithet “ formula.  I will be on the lookout for it.  I think she is right, Euripides seems to avoid mentioning Athena’s name.  (As a writer I am always conscious to not have too many characters in the plot.)  On the other name the other “virgin daughter of Zeus”; Artemis is mentioned often, so maybe Euripides had his reasons for using the epithet formula.

“O maiden Callisto, blessed once in Arcadia, who climbed into the bed of Zeus on four paws, how much happier was your lot than my mother's, you who in the form of a shaggy-limbed beast—the bearing of a lioness with your fierce eye—changed your burden of sorrow; [380] and also the one whom Artemis once drove from her chorus, as a deer with horns of gold, the Titan girl, daughter of Merops, because of her loveliness; “

Does Euripides purposely screw up his Greek Mythology?  Callisto was turned into a bear, not a lioness.   According to William Allan in “Euripides: Helen” (Cambridge University Press, 2008) the playwright made up the whole thing about a Titaness-daughter of the unknown Titan Merops.  The deer with the horns of gold apparently refers to the harts that draw Artemis’ chariot. 

Menelaus prays to his grandfather Pelops, “if only, when you were persuaded to make a banquet for the gods, you had left your life then, inside the gods, [390].”  That's ugly!

Menelaus’ description of his shipwreck at 410-25 sure reminds me of Odysseus’ travels. 

I thought Menelaus' prayer “ O torch-bearing Hekatē, send visions that are favorable! “  seemed a little out of character and out of place, until I read further and realized it foreshadowed.  Theonoe enters, attended by hand-maidens carrying torches.”

Helen. [670] Ah, my husband! The son of Zeus (Hermes), of Zeus, brought me to the Nile." That's what Aphrodite said to Anchises!

Helen. Alas for those baths and springs, where the goddesses brightened the beauty from which the judgment [krisis] came.  Maybe Helen is referring to the  spring of Canathos, close to Nauplia, where Hera renewed her virginity annually, (Pausanias, 2.38.2-3.)

Famous line, “Messenger. What are you saying? We have had ordeals [ponoi] in vain for the sake of a cloud? “

 Helen: imitate the character of a just father; for this is the fairest glory for children". Same argument Priam used on Peleus’ son. 

 Theoklymenos  [1165] Greetings, tomb [mnēma] of my father! For I buried you, Proteus, in the passageway so that I could address you; and always as I leave and enter the house, I, your son .  (The priests at Delphi  buried the murdered (sacrificed) Neoptolemus on the temple threshold, making him the guardian of the threshold


 Menelaus:  This is your duty, young woman; you must be content with the husband at your side, and let go the one that no longer exists; [1290] for this is best [arista] for you, according to what has happened. And if I come to Hellas and find safety, I will put to an end your former bad reputation, if you are such a wife as you ought to be to your husband.

Helen I will; my husband will never find fault with me; [1295] you yourself will be at hand to know it. Now go inside, unhappy man, and find the bath, and change your clothes. I will show my kindness to you without delay. For you will perform the due services with more kindly feeling for my most philos Menelaos, [1300] if you get from me what you ought to have. 

Love the irony here

1340-1370. Musical interlude about Eleusinian mysteries while the actor playing Menelaus changes costumes?  Just like a Cher concert? 

1405] May the gods give to you the things I wish and also to this stranger [xenos] here,   Funny

Menelaus' prayer to Zeus doesn't meet the standard

I don't know Pontos' gray- green daughter, spirit of calm.  Allan says she is a daughter of Nereus.  Many of the Nereids represent waves or describe the sea.  Again Euripides getting his mythology wrong.    

The Dioscuri end the play. I always hate deux de machina endings




Friday, October 7, 2016

TFBT: Random Notes from Euripides’ “Helen”

I am preparing for Hour 25’s Book Club | October 2016: Euripides’ Helen  to be held on Tuesday, October 25, at 11 a.m. EDT.  Here are my notes so far;

“[25] Hera and Kypris, and the virgin daughter of Zeus, wishing to have the judgment…”  With an Athenian audience why didn’t Euripides say, Athena?  Why be vague enough that Artemis could be the daughter in question.  

Famous quote; “Zeus added further troubles to these; for he brought a war upon the land of the Hellenes and the unhappy Phrygians, so that he might lighten mother earth of her crowded mass of mortals

“Helen: What is it, poor man—who are you, that you have turned away from me and loathe me for the misfortunes of that one?”  Really?  She asks Teucer’s name?  How rude!

Teucer:  Do you know a certain Achilles, the son of Peleus?
          Helen:  Yes, he came to woo Helen once, so I hear.  

That’s not right!  No one says this.  Achilles was too young to woo Helen at the time and too young to swear the Oath of Tyndareus.  To say this negates the Choice of Achilles, and questions one of the pivotal moments in Ancient Greek history and culture

Teucer:  “That they killed themselves because of their sister. “  What!  Again, no one says this!  Plus gods can’t kill themselves.    If Euripides is trying to raise shame in Helen, he could have done better by quoting Helen from the Iliad as she looks out over the battlefield for her brothers.
I not see, Castor, tamer of horses, and the goodly boxer, Polydeuces, even mine own brethren, whom the same mother bare. Either they followed not with the host from lovely Lacedaemon, or though they followed hither in their seafaring ships, they have now no heart to enter into the battle of warriors for fear of the words of shame and the many revilings that are mine." [3.243] So said she; but they ere now were fast holden of the life-giving earth there in Lacedaemon, in their dear native land.”  

As to the charge that Leda hung herself; again, no one said that anywhere.   Plus as the mother of three Spartan gods, mother-in-law of two goddesses and grandmother of 4 divine grandson’s there were better things in store for her than the noose.  

 reach the streams of Eurotas”  Every time I read this line, my inner ear hears the Homeric phrases “streams of Oceanus” (Iliad 19.1 and 23.205, Odyssey 24.10 and 22.197)  As in “[10] Hermes, the Helper, led them down the dank ways. Past the streams of Oceanus they went, past the rock Leucas, past the gates of the sun and the land of dreams” The quote refers to the Far West the other three to the Far East.  Interesting that both location have a Leuce/Leuca island.  The Stream of Oceanus waters the Isle of the Blest, Helen’s ultimate homeland.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

TFTB: Learning Ancient Greek

I am frustrated with learning Ancient Greek.  You know what really frustrates me?  I really want to learn Ancient Greek!  This has been a life long ambition to read the Iliad out loud in the original tongue, and here I am failing at it!   There just doesn't seem to be enough time for study. 

I prayed on this.   The conclusion I came to, is I was looking at it all wrong.  The point is not to study harder, but rather to succeed.  My new approach is five-fold.   

1) I cheat.   My wife likes me to watch TV with her.  So, while she is watching television I copy and paste each word from the sentence we are translating into Perseus’ Greek Work Study Tool.  I copy and paste the explanation on to my homework page and the add the definition.  As one of the dear members in my study group constantly warns me Perseus is wrong sometimes or there are various possibilities or no result.  I leave those problems aside and throw down all the words. Later when I have alone time, I straighten out the mess with all the spreadsheets, text books and cheat sheets that we have accumulated.  So my notes look like this;  

χρήματα ἐκείνοις τοῖς κακοῖς ῥήτορσι λιπών, ἔπειτα τὸν στρατὸν ἤγαγον εἰς τὴν χώρᾱν τὴν τῶν Ἑλλήνων τῶν οὐχ ὑπὸ στρατιωτῶν φυλαττομένων.

Having left behind money to those evil speakers, then he/I led the army into the land, the one of the Hellenes {who are} not being protected by the soldiers.
noun plural neuter nominative;  wealth
adj plural neuter dative;  Bad
noun plural masc dative. Orators
participle singular aorist Active masculine nomitive. Leave 
noun sg masc acc. Army 
verb 1st sg aor ind act attic epic ionic redupl. Lead 
noun pl masc gen. Soldiers
part pl pres mp neut gen attic

2)  I quiz myself on all the spread sheets, textbooks and cheat sheets our study group has accumulated.  I found time over the weekend and it really makes me more confident by re-familiarizing myself purposefully. 

3)  I signed up for a tutor.  This is still an experiment for me. I asked questions I thought I knew the answers to, so that I would understand the response when he told me what I did wrong.  This approach really did help this morning, plus he picked out a translation that he thought would help me with the extra time at the end of the session.  

4)  Pray more about this.  If my dream is going to come true I have to concentrate and think on this more.  Gotta make it a higher priority.   

5)  Give up Jeopardy   I love watching Jeopardy after dinner.  I love Homer more, so I gave up Jeopardy for more study time in the early evening when I do best at translating.   

I don't know if any of my readers wanted my unasked for advice or if it is helpful.  But is sure helped me writing it all down.  It sort of means I've committed to all this in front of you all.  Thanks

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

VftSW: Sarpedon Fell

Over at Hour 25 we were duscussing Homeric similes in preparation for Thursday's guest scholar.  I thought comparing the death of Sarpedon to the falling odf a pine on a mountaintop needed a little fleshing out.  So I wrote, I wanted to discuss a simile mentioned in the recent tblog-post.
Sarpedon] fell, as when an oak goes down or a white poplar,
or like a towering pine tree which in the mountains the carpenters
have hewn down
Maybe Homer never dropped a towering pine, but I have. I was sawyer on a firefighting crew. There is a moment,a terrible, awesome moment announced by a loud snap. That loud snap is as earthshaking as a thunderbolt. Sawyer and swamper hold their collective breathes. The tree might shatter its length and explode. It might kick back and swat away the sawyerr and his therapon like a mother swatting a fly away. It might hesitate and wobble, the trunk heading downhill while hurling the top like an ashen spear back at th saw team. If it falls the way it should, the sawyer and his swamper quietly follow their escape away and then stop. As first there is no sound, as the pine falls towards the valley below. Then the rush of the wind in the branches begins to roar like the winds thru the forest. Then it slams into the slope below and shakes the earth, loosening boulders and shaking “widowmakers” out of the neighboring trees. The moment ends with the tinkling of loose rocks below and the crash echoing from the opposite hill. That’s how Sarpedon fell.

Monday, September 26, 2016

TFBT: Ferry, Three, Four and Half-way through Five

This reflects further reading in “The Wisdom of the Myths”, Luc Ferry. 
Continuing his primary message 

“Heroism – the quest for great deeds that might earn eternal glory for those who accomplish them – occupies a central place in the mental universe of the Greeks.    

“…the temptation of hubris, the tendency to immoderation and pride that makes us all believe that we can elevate ourselves to the ranks of the gods with out in any deserving it.  And as we shall see in a moment, in the world of the Greeks, this flaw is never forgiven.”  Christian authors of an earlier age called this temptation to hubris the goddess Ate.  

Know Thyself…At is origin, in Archaic Greek culture, this injunction possessed an obvious significance, even for the humblest citizens; we must stay in our allotted place, not get above ourselves.”  But, what is my alloted place?  Menelaus was promised the Isle of Blest in the Odyssey.  In the Iliad , Achilles' mother offered him two options.   

The human individual is thus defined, above all else as he who can go too far…And it is also this freedom that exposes man to the risk of defying the gods, to the point of even threatening the entire cosmic settlement….hubris always risks overturning the beautiful and just order of things established so painfully by Zeus in his war against the forces of chaos….gods punish hubris: quite simply, they are trying to preserve universal harmony against the madness of men.      The implication here is that we (Heroic Age and Iron Age humanity) are capable of over-throwing the universe.  
Random observations

“They suddenly understand the reason for the tameness of the lions and wolves who crossed their path earlier: these, too, were clearly humans whom Circe has transformed into animals” Ferry fails to mention that Odysseus ate one such fellow disguised as a stag.   

Nausicaä had him (Odysseus) washed, decently clothed and anointed with olive oil, all of which makes him recognizably human…” Hmm, not too long before, in their own way, Ino and Calypso did the same thing.   

“Everyone obeys Hermes, because everyone know that he is the personal messenger of Zeus and speaks in his name.”  Hmm.  I will have to keep this in mind.  In the Iliad Poseidon back talks Iris when she serves as Zeus messenger.  (She invokes the Erinyes and that’s the end of the argument.) 

Ferry, points out that Persephone in eating the pomegranate seeds, ate “something” other than nectar and ambrosia.  So that she like us eaters of bread is “linked irrevocably and forever after to the underworld.”  

“Achelous possesses, moreover, a strange characteristic, no doubt deriving from his fluidity: he is able to metamorphose into different beings.”  Hence the nephele (cloud-nymphs) could take on the shape of Hera and Helen. 

Ferry quotes Hesiod in regards to the birth of Heracles, “The father of men and gods was forming another scheme in his heart: to beget one who would defend against destruction both gods and men.”  He goes on to explain this quote in terms of Heracles destruction of the brood of Echidna.  Most mythologist would explain it in terms of his assistance with the Gigantomachy.  Ferry does not discuss this at all.  He credits the gods giving Heracles bow, quiver, arrows breastplate and cloak to prepare him for his adventures.  In fact is was the self-acquired hide of the Nemean Lion, olive branch club and arrows dipped in the Hydra’s blood that prepared him for his labors and battles with the monsters.  Ferry plays down the place of the gods in nourishing these monsters.