Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Jason and search for the truth

We have been having a lively discussion about historic truth on our Imperial Rome discussion group. I noticed that the program "The Real Jason and the Argonauts" was going to air again this weekend and found this article about the project interesting - especially the director's philosophical sensitivity about historical truth.

"'You have to be careful dealing with myths because they have a lot to do often with people's sense of self and national identities, and there's no need to shatter things like that.
'What I'm looking at complements rather than undermines. It's just a different way of understanding these stories in different ages, I think.

'These days, the modern inquiring mind requires that we find out who the real people are, but it doesn't mean those myths are any less true for the people of other ages.
'There's a fine balance between literal truth and artistic truth, and often we learn more about ourselves from artistic truth than literal truth."

I was also interested to note that the article pointed out that even the Romans were convinced of the historical nature of the story and attempted to find evidence of the real Jason in ancient Georgia.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Kate Devlin Illuminates the Archaeological Record

Kate Devlin, a researcher specializing in the computer reconstruction of archaeological sites explains her unique approach that incorporates realistic ancient lighting with archaeological perspective, "The ways in which we view, perceive and understand objects is governed by our current lighting methods of steady, bright electric light or large windows, but in order to understand how an environment and its contents were viewed in the past we must consider how they were illuminated. Light cannot be captured in the archaeological record and consequently its importance is rarely considered in interpretations of past environments. Experimental archaeology and realistic lighting simulation allow us to recreate the original lighting of an archaeological site or artefact and show it how it might have looked to those who built and used it. "

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Bravehearts: Men in Skirts

"Bravehearts: Men in Skirts", a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, locates “men in skirts” in historical and cross-cultural contexts and looks at designers as well as individuals who have appropriated the skirt as a means of injecting novelty into male fashion, transgressing moral and social codes, and redefining ideals of masculinity. "

This exhibit reminds me of a website I stumbled across for a Roman reenactors group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Their main page proudly proclaimed "Real men don't wear pants!" I initially read about this exhibit in an article by Barbara Nachman in The Journal News. However, Barbara committed a major faux pax in her remark "Consider the ancient Greeks and Romans, who fought in togas; the Scottish warriors who battled in kilts; the fierce Masai from Kenya, who wore a length of cloth wrapped around their bodies and tied over one shoulder. " I sent her an email to explain that togas were ceremonial garments and were not worn in battle. I suggested she review

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

HBO and BBC to coproduce "Rome"

How exciting!

The BBC and premium movie channel HBO will co-produce an epic and sweeping new drama series Rome, chronicling the rise of the ancient Roman empire through the eyes of two foot-soldiers. The first series of 12 episodes is planned to be broadcast on BBC Two and on HBO in 2005. Rome is an intimate drama of love and betrayal, masters and slaves, and husbands and wives. It chronicles epic times that saw the fall of a republic and the creation of an empire.

The series begins in 51 BC, as Gaius Julius Caesar has completed his masterful conquest of Gaul after eight years of war, and is preparing to return to Rome. He heads home with thousands of battle-hardened men and a populist agenda for radical social change. Terrified, the aristocracy threatens to prosecute Caesar for war crimes as soon as he sets foot in Rome.

Caesar's old friend and mentor, Pompey Magnus attempts to foment mutiny in order to maintain the balance of power. Two of Caesar's soldiers, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, thwart Pompey's plan. Their fates become entwined with those of Caesar, Mark Antony, Cleopatra, and the boy Octavian, a strange and awkward child. By political guile and bloody force, he will become Rome's first Emperor.

BBC Two controller Jane Root adds, "Rome is a unique drama series that allows us to look at the birth of the Roman Empire through the eyes of ordinary citizens as well as famous historical figures such as Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Octavian. It is an intimate portrayal of a fascinating and influential period of history - the birth of a modern society as we know it today. It brings us vividly into everyday Roman life."