The vast majority of recent ‘Classical’ movies are, almost universally, completely mangled versions of the Classical history/mythology/literature on which they were supposedly based, without even the potentially redeeming feature of decent acting (I’m thinking of ‘Troy‘, ‘300‘, ‘Centurion‘…I’m sure you can fill in others). Classical movies from several decades ago, on the other hand, are, almost universally, completely mangled versions of the Classical history/mythology/literature on which they were supposedly based, without even the potentially redeeming feature of decent acting…and yet possessed of a certain vintage charm that somehow makes them utterly hilarious and hugely entertaining to watch.
In our never-ending quest to bring our readers the best in home entertainment, therefore, Res Gerendae‘s dedicated team of film critics selflessly set out to investigate and judge a series of cult Classics films – broadly defined as films relating (or claiming to relate) in some way to Greek or Roman history or mythology, dating from the 1950s-1980s. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give you – the Cult Classics Oscars!
We’ve been having a ‘Phoenician for Classicists’ seminar in the Faculty this term, for anyone mad *ahem* keen enough to spend their Friday lunchtimes attempting to read inscriptions in a language they don’t know, written in a script that doesn’t represent vowels and in which about half of the consonants look essentially identical to each other. Put like that, who wouldn’t come along and join us?
Anyway, it’s been great fun, if mind-blowing (I blame the very little work I’ve got done any Friday afternoon this term on having expended all my brain cells trying to understand Phoenician), and it seemed appropriate to celebrate the last of these seminars with cake. And so, I hereby present the Phoenician Epigraphy Cake:
I’m afraid this post is not going to be an in-depth analysis of the current use of the internet to facilitate Classical learning, or anything actually useful or relevant like that. In fact it’s really just two links to things I came across in the course of today that seem like a nice illustration of the principle that you can literally find anything on the internet (without, in this case, even trying particularly hard). First of all (courtesy of rogueclassicism) we have what must be the best piece of bureaucratic correspondence ever, in the form of two poems in medieval Latin style, dating from the good old days of the 1930s.
To celebrate this glorious/inauspicious day (depending on your Roman political stance), some wonderful Victorian and early-20th-century advertisments for how to avoid ending up like Julius Caesar from the British Newspaper Archive:
Following on from my Linear B tablet cake, the mission to raise the profile of obscure Bronze Age scripts through the medium of baked goods continues — this time with Cypro-Minoan, which was used on Cyprus from the 16th century B.C.E. until at least the 11th century. It has also been found at Ras Shamra, Syria (ancient Ugarit), from where this tablet comes:
Editor’s note: A copy of this report was found this morning pushed under the door of the Mycenaean Epigraphy Room; it is reproduced here in its entirety, including the original illustrations. It is unsigned, and the author is unknown; presumably he or she wishes to remain anonymous in order not to jeopardise future fieldwork.
Many an explorer, anthropologist, or documentary-maker has attempted to enter the mysterious land known as the Faculty of Classics in order to study its inhabitants (termed Classicists). Living so long in isolation from the influence of the outside world, this uncontacted tribe must, it is often speculated, have developed its own, completely unique, culture, such as every anthropologist would dream of studying. It was, therefore, a great privilege for me not only to gain access to the Faculty of Classics just a few days ago, but also to witness first-hand one of the most important events of the Classicists’ ritual calendar: the festival known as Graduate Tea.
I was recently inspired by this blog to do some Mycenology-themed baking – in other words, to make a Linear B tablet cake. The result:
This is a replica of a tablet from Knossos, KN Fp 1. I chose this particular tablet for two reasons. Firstly, it’s an extremely interesting document, listing ritual offerings of olive oil to various recipients – including Diktaian Zeus (line 2, di-ka-ta-jo di-we – Diktaiōi Diwei), the shrine of Daidalos (line 3, da-da-re-jo-de – Daidaleionde, ‘to the Daidaleion’), the Erinys (line 8, e-ri-nu), and the Priestess of the Winds (line 10, a-ne-mo , i-je-re-ja – anemōn hiereiāi).
Secondly, and more importantly, it was the first tablet I could think of that’s approximately the same proportions as my traybake tin.
If anyone else feels similarly inspired to create a Classics-themed cake, please post the results!