By Jessica Allen - Monday, December 10, 2012 - 0 Comments
A group of scholars, archaeologists, scientists and members of the public have signed an…
A group of scholars, archaeologists, scientists and members of the public have signed an online petition to protest a government plan to cover the “tomb of the gladiator” after it was first discovered in Rome in 2008.
Recent dramatic budget cuts in Italy have made preservation and reconstruction funds all-but-extinct in the city that is falling apart. Reburying the tomb, which is along the Tiber on Via Flaminia, is the cheapest fix, unless the city can come up with two to three million euros it will cost to protect the tomb from winter weather.
But the tomb “is one of overwhelming cultural and historic value not only for Italy but for all of humanity,” says the petition, not only because it was one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the last decade, but also because the lavish mausoleum belongs to Marcus Nonius Macrinus, the general upon whom the character Maximus, played by Russell Crowe, in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator was based. (Which also explains how a tomb of one of Marcus Aurelius’ generals came to be known as the “tomb of the gladiator.”)
Earlier Monday, Russell Crowe himself retweeted the petition link to his 668,018 followers and, according to an interview with the Academy Award-winning actor published in La Repubblica, yesterday he started an online petition of his own sponsored by the American Institute for Roman Culture to encourage Roman heritage officials to consider all their options before the 1800-year-old mausoleum is reburied.
By Jessica Allen - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 4 Comments
Classics clubs are agog as sword-and-sandal epics replace vampires as the trend du jour
On a recent Tuesday evening, seven members of McMaster University’s classics club gathered in Room 719 of Togo Salmon Hall to watch Disney’s animated movie Hercules. So far this academic year they’ve screened Gladiator, 300 and the 1966 classic A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. When the film ended and the Doritos bags and Coke bottles had been emptied, club president Rebecca Rathbone got the discussion rolling by raising the question of factual accuracy. “If they did what was historically accurate,” she said, “nobody would find any meaning in them today.” “Yeah,” said a student in the back, “And I don’t think Disney could show Hercules killing his wife and kids.” “Twice,” added another.
This group was kind. Movie nights are the bread and butter of classics clubs because that’s when members get “to be obnoxious little classicists,” says Sara Mills, a junior at Harvard and president of their classical club. “It’s very hard for us to watch these movies in silence. It’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, look at that outfit!’ ” And Dale Eadeh, president of NYU’s Classics Club, admits, “We can’t resist! It’s the kind of thing where we’ll make a comment and just apologize right after: ‘I’m sorry for ruining the movie but I have a question.’ ” Questions like: why does Alexander the Great’s mother, played by Angelina Jolie, have a Russian accent in Alexander? Why do the Romans in Gladiator take a catapult into a forest? And why does marble statuary inevitably appear pristinely white?
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 1:00 PM - 5 Comments
Is Harry Potter influencing students to study Latin?
Who said Latin was a dead language? Like the Roman army invading Britain, hordes of university students are flooding classics departments, intent on learning Caesar’s tongue. At York, enrolment in beginners’ Latin has doubled over the past few years, while the University of Ottawa has opened more spaces due to demand.
Alison Keith, chair of classics at the University of Toronto, thinks Latin’s popularity has to do with “media interest in the ancients,” as typified in movies like Gladiator. “I’ve spent time looking at the ruins, but they’re down around my knees,” she says, which makes seeing ancient Rome on screen all the more exciting. The Harry Potter books, too, have made an impression: “Lots of the code words have a Latin base,” she says. (Take the lumos spell, close to lumen, Latin for “light.”) Continue…