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Showing posts from September, 2010

Dulce et Decorum Est- The Poem

The 1910s were simultaneously a period that encompassed the Belle Epoque ("Beautiful Era") of painters like Tissot and Waterhouse and composers like Stauss, Debussy and Ravel; as well as the period of WWI with its mustard gas, trenches, and tanks. For this reason the phrase "Dulce et Decorum Est" seems particularly appropo to describe the timeperiod; for besides meaning "sweet and good/fitting it is", it is also the name of a poem written in 1918 by Wilfred Owen who served and died during "The Great War".
DULCE ET DECORUM EST by WILFRED OWEN
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.



Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!-…

Ermine and Pearls- The Quickstep vs. The Charleston

I confess that although I am not generally a fan of reality television I do enjoy Dancing With the Stars. It's nice that different styles of dance have made a resurgence (I'm looking forward to trying some Swing myself soon), and the video above showcases two of those styles, and, coincidentally, their use on DWtS. Which one do you prefer?

The Quickstep
Developed iin the 1920s as a faster Foxtrot, the Quickstep actually owes some of its steps to the Charleston. Meant to be danced to ragtime music the basic formula is a combination of chasses, quick jerky movements of the feet, and solid armholds punctuated by brief slower pauses and slides. It was a smooth, refined dance that worked well for more conservative dancers, in contrast to the brash youthfullness of...

...The Charleston
It is both a song and a dance style, though the dance can be performed to other songs. Originating on Broadway in Runnin' Wild in October of 1923, it is thought to have been inspired by black dockw…

Ancient Greece- The dinner party or "Things Belonging to Men"

While researching ancient Greek cooking I came across an interesting tidbit. There were two main kinds of banquets; Symposiums and Syssitias. The symposiums (literally "gathering of drinkers") were a popular dinner party centered around a drinking spree at which games were played, ideas exchanged, and a "King" directed the slaves on how strong to make the wine. They even came to be associated with a genre of writing espoused by Plato, Xenophon, and Plutarch consisting of philosophy discussed  at a symposium.

Syssitias were close kin of the symposiums, but much more formal events. Intended to promote companionship between men they were held at times to solidify a sense of honor and brotherhood within units of soliders.

Both types of banquets were held for and by men, with the only women in attendance being high-level prostitutes known as hetaira (or hetaera). Perhaps for this reason the supper parties were also refered to as Hetairia, or Andreia; "Companions…

Polite Society: Queen Victoria's Children

What could be more fitting to kick off the new blog parameters than to jump all the way from the Roman Empire to Victorian England? Well, modern society, perhaps, but be that as it may I present to you Queen Victoria's children.
Victoria married her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in February of 1840, and the first of their children, Victoria, was born in November of the same year. Below is a list of the couple's 9 children and some information that you may find interesting about each.
Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa "Vicky"- born 21st November 1840, died 5th August 1901. Married German Emperor Frederick III, becoming Empress of Germany and Queen of Prussia. After her marriage she remained close to both her younger brother, Edward, and her mother to whom she sent more than 4,000 letters. Her education had been closely supervised and included reading, writing, French, German, literature, science, Latin, history, politics, and philosophy. Despite knowing Ger…

An Announcement- Timewarp

I don't seem to post here often enough, especially considering that I come across interesting things to blog about all the time; it's just that those things so rarely fall into the realm of Classical Antiquity.

But why limit oneself?

So starting tomorrow, Sunday, I will blog about any and all timeperiods, excepting the 18th century as that is covered in my other blog, Letters from the Enlightenment. The schedule is roughly as follows:-

Monday- Classical Antiquity
Tuesday- Ermine and Pearls- The Roaring Twenties
Wednesday- Dulce et Decorum Est (1900-1920)
Thursday- Ship of Fools (Middles Ages and Renaissance)
Friday- Jump, Jive, and Wail (40s and 50s)
Saturday- The 17th Century
Sunday- Polite Society (Regency and Victorian)

Good idea? Bad idea? Indifferent? Let me know!

Dionysus Procession Sarcophagus at the Walters

The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore is one of those rare gems; a museum which is full of interesting and beautiful art and completely free and open to the public. While there recently the Director of Special Events took the trouble of asking if we had seen Elvis yet. Why no, we answered, and to our great surprise he pointed us toward the Roman gallery. There, on a series of Sarcophagi depicting a Dionysian Triumphal Procession are four finials bearing an uncanny resemblance to Elvis Presley, right down to the forward curl of his head.

Of course the sarcophagi themselves are not to missed, with incredibly intricate carvings in Thasian marble from Greece circa 190 A.D. They were acquired by Mr. Walters in 1902, and part of the generous bequest he made to the museum in 1931. Further information can be found at http://art.thewalters.org/viewwoa.aspx?id=33305