our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness Phaedr. 244a

2012/05/05

when white horse day held down all the earth brilliant to see...

~Aeschylus's Persians -- lines 386-388, emc trans
Carole writes about the flick 300:

actually not a bad movie - although it would probably set L's teeth on edge - but, lucky me, I'm not all that steeped in that particular history - so I enjoyed it.

Lots of female nudity, and LOTS of gore - explicit gore - and some explicit sex -the majority with a married couple (which is odd for movies these days). The Spartans are all hunks in black spandex underwear - why they left out the armor is beyond me - maybe it was July and really hot.

And it turns out the stegosaurus are rhinos which I now have to find out if the Persians really brought along their rhinos and elephants - it is possible but I have no idea.

There's several "monstrous" sort of people in it - deformed, unusually tall, etc, which may also be historically - again, no idea, but there seemed to be a lot of them, unless there was some chemical in the water there.

Jessie was delighted that the closeups of the Persian arrows showed them accurately- their arrows were made to be particularly lethal and non-removable.

Anyways- we are home from the battlefront, and now back to work.

Carole
Deb:
Still not seen it. Don't want to be overstimulated, lady that I am. Read Rolling Stone's review here. Excerpt:
Spears, swords and other handy phallic symbols pierce skin with startling regularity, causing great gushes of cartoon blood that make it really sticky for guys to walk in sandals. And what guys! Decked out like gladiators in a gay fashion layout, the soldiers from the Greek city-state of Sparta look gym-ready for battle in crotch-squeezing ensembles that expose as much flesh as an R rating will allow.
But yes, suffice it to say it's likely more about our own time than Herodotus's (Perseus Link). He, Diodorus, and Aeschylus are our main sources for this adventure. And they were playing to their own time, too.


The Persian Version

Truth-loving Persians do not dwell upon
The trivial skirmish fought near Marathon.
As for the Greek theatrical tradition
Which represents that summer's expedition
Not as a mere reconnaisance in force
By three brigades of foot and one of horse
(Their left flank covered by some obsolete
Light craft detached from the main Persian fleet)
But as a grandiose, ill-starred attempt
To conquer Greece - they treat it with contempt;
And only incidentally refute
Major Greek claims, by stressing what repute
The Persian monarch and the Persian nation
Won by this salutary demonstration:
Despite a strong defence and adverse weather
All arms combined magnificently together.
-- Robert Graves

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Liz adds:

Here are some of the translations about the aggressive activities of the sun in Aeschylus' "Persians."

Lines 364-65, framing Xerxes' directions to his admirals:

"When the sun ceases to burn the earth with its rays, and blackness seizes the temenos of the sky . . ."

The description of the Greek activities preparing for naval battle is also framed by the presence of the sun's comings and goings.

Lines 375-94

And not in a disorderly manner (akosmos--adverb) but with obedient hearts (phrenes) each sailor was preparing his dinner, and each sailor fastened the oar handle to the pin, well-fitted to the oar. And when the sun disappeared and night came on, each man the king of his oar departed into the ship, and every man who was master of his weapons; and one row called to the other row down the length of the ship, and they sailed as each had been commanded.
And all night long the lords of the ships kept the whole nautical host sailing continually... And night began to leave, and the Greek army did not attempt furtive escape in any way. And when white-horse sun, brilliant to see, held down all the earth, first the cry from the Greek side of good omen sounded like a song, and immediately the echo sounded back from the island rocks. And there was fear among all the barbarians, having been mistaken in their judgment. For it was not in flight that the Greeks were then singing the sacred paean, but they were rushing into battle with courage and confidence . . .

The sun's destruction of Xerxes' fragmented host fleeing back to Asia.
Lines 502-07.

Whoever rushed out before the rays of the god dispersed has been saved. For the bright orb of the sun, burning with its rays, went through the middle of the passage, heating it with its flames. And they fell upon eachother; and whoever the breath of life broke from most quickly was fortunate.

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see also Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World
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"Listen, Moirai (Fates) ... hear our prayers ... send us rose-bloomed Eunomia (Good Order in civic government) and her bright-throned sisters Dike (Justice) and garland-wearing Eirene (Peace), and make this city forget its heavy-hearted misfortunes." - Greek Lyric V Anonymous Fragments 1018 (from Stobaeus, Anthology)

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adding: notes

what is the space btwn inner and outer? where is it? that space the two share is the stage where the Greeks met their gods, (great perspective in the intro by David Kovaks to the most recent Loeb Bacchae) to a physical statement, a place where all can meet. fixed in time, moved by eros, theatre the meeting of mortals and immortals.

film is this too, but film is not married to time. which both limits and expands what it can do.

the temple is the eye of the polis. and so is the stage.

analogs:

the physical timespace manifestation of that personified messenger, the daemon Hermes / Dionysos... birth star... all of these. (raw scan of first chapters: http://themoonsfavors.blogspot.com/2012/12/demons.html ... I try to give back to artist's work some of the forgotten things we now so need...)

novel is an inner / outer meeting space, a "stage" for the daemon.
unfixed in time and space.