Nice slide show of Etruscan treasures

Slide Show

Eagle of the Ninth to be filmed

Newsbites: The Greco-Roman edition!
1. Kevin Macdonald (Touching the Void, The Last King of Scotland) will start shooting The Eagle of the Ninth in August; the film concerns “a wounded Roman soldier and his loyal Celtic slave who try to solve the mystery of the Ninth Legion, a brigade of Roman soldiers that vanished after heading into the untamed Highlands of Scotland 15 years earlier.” — Variety

2. Coincidentally, Neil Marshall (The Descent, Doomsday) is already making his own movie about the Ninth Legion; it is called Centurion, and it is far enough into production that the filmmakers recently released a making-of video and a photo of former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko made up to look like “a savage-looking Pict warrior woman”. — Empire, Rotten Tomatoes

3. Bond girl Gemma Arterton has been cast as the demi-goddess Io in the upcoming remake of Clash of the Titans (1981). Meanwhile, Cinesite has been hired to provide some of the “major creature animation” — using computers, of course, rather than the stop-motion techniques that living legend Ray Harryhausen used on the original film. — Empire, VFXWorld

4. Sean Bean will play Zeus, Kevin McKidd will play Poseidon, Pierce Brosnan will play Chiron, Uma Thurman will play Medusa and Melina Kanakerides will play Athena in Percy Jackson, an adaptation of the best-selling children’s novel The Lightning Thief, which is set in the present day and concerns the half-human children of the gods. — Variety, Hollywood Reporter (x2)

5. The Gotham Group is developing a film based on Steven Sherrill’s novel The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, which concerns “the mythical half-man, half-bull minotaur who was supposedly slain by Theseus 3,000 years ago and now lives a lonely life in a Wichita trailer park, making ends meet as a short-order cook in a rundown diner.” — Variety
Total Film
State Of Play director Kevin Macdonald is going back to Roman times for his next film, signing up to direct The Eagle Of The Ninth.

The film finds a wounded Roman soldier and his loyal Celtic slave (Jamie Bell, below) who attempt to solve the mystery of the Ninth Legion.

Who are they? They would be a brigade of Roman soldiers who set off for the wild Scottish Highland hills 15 years before… And were never seen again.

Channing Tatum has been offered the role of the injured Roman, but he hasn’t yet decided if his accent’s up to the job. Sorry, that he’ll take the part.

If he signs, he’ll be off to shooting Hungary (doubling for Roman-occupied England) in August. Scotland, meanwhile, will be played by Scotland.

Seems England’s a little too built up to really serve Roman times.

And what is it with Romans, suddenly? Neil Marshall’s in production on Centurion and now this?

Medieval recycling – or robbing Roman walls

Medieval News

Archaeologists in Gloucester have unearthed evidence that recycling is not just a twenty-first century idea. An archaeological investigation in the centre of the city has discovered that medieval settlers used parts of a Roman wall to construct buildings.

Gloucestershire County Council’s archaeology team is exploring the area where Kimbrose Triangle meets Southgate Street before work begins in the summer to connect the Quays to the city centre. But they were frustrated in their search for the line of the old Roman wall.

Gloucestershire County Council project officer Paul Nichols said: “We found Roman deposits about one metre below the pavement level. The earliest deposits were soil layers containing shards of Roman pottery and fragments of wall plaster. Above that was a mortar floor surface, which we believe was the internal floor of a Roman building.

“We didn’t find any evidence for the Roman wall, suggesting that we were just inside the line, but it’s also possible that parts of it may have been recycled and used to build later buildings. It was certainly a worthwhile exercise and we will be providing a full report that will be of benefit to city planners.”

The nearest remains of the wall are inside Gloucestershire Furniture Exhibition Centre on the corner of Southgate Street and Parliament Street, and Blackfriars. Henry Hurst uncovered the wall at Bearland in 1969. It runs under Berkeley Street, to the nearest corner of the Cathedral, to St Aldate Street, through King’s Walk, Brunswick Road, and Parliament Street.

“They could have been just inside the city wall, if the wall is there,” said Gloucester Civic Trust’s Nigel Spry. “It may be that it’s been taken away during later periods to use in other buildings.”

2,200-year-old bronze statue fished up

Yahoo news

ATHENS, Greece – A Greek fisherman must have been expecting a monster of a catch when he brought up his nets in the Aegean Sea last week. Instead, Greek authorities say his haul was a section of a 2,200-year-old bronze statue of a horseman.

A Culture Ministry announcement said Monday the accidental find was made in waters between the eastern islands of Kos and Kalymnos. The fisherman handed over the corroded metal figure to authorities, who have started the cleaning process.

Dating to the late 2nd century B.C., the statue represented a male rider wearing ornate breast armor over a short tunic and armed with a sheathed sword. The trunk of the horseman and his raised right arm have survived.

Lysistrata parallels

Thanks to Rogue Classicism/Explorator, a whole list of modern Lysistrata parallels.

Heston’s Roman Feast

Someone is asking about Heston’s Roman Feast.
Try this.

Pacific Rim comes to London

Rogue Classicism has details of an interesting0looking conference in July, and on our own doorstep.

*Pacific Rim Roman Literature Seminar 2009: “Utopia and Dystopia in Roman Literature”
University College London, 7–9 July 2009 (Archaeology Lecture Theatre)*

It is a great pleasure to announce that the annual Pacific Rim Roman Literature Seminar 2009 will be coming to London this year.
It will discuss the topic of “Utopia and Dystopia in Roman Literature” and will be held at University College London, 7–9 July 2009 (Archaeology Lecture Theatre).

Message from Alan Chadwick.

This message is from Alan Chadwick. (I am handing over this blog to a colleague, and am concentrating on a personal blog, in which I am hoping to record my thoughts, feelings and experiences while facing terminal cancer. This the URL:

Hi David,

Sorry, I’ve not been keeping as up-to-date with your blog as I ought, so I don’t know if you’ve seen this website below.

In fact, it’s just a graphic – a Virgilian pastiche on Facebook if you like. I think it is very good, if a bit “contemporary” for some of our more reserved colleagues, although even they would wish to join Turnus’ new group.

Here is the link.

A Roman Diet Question usually provides pretty reliable information, so people may find this useful.

Friday March 27, 2009
At least that’s how I chose to read it. People have started asking me questions on Twitter instead of via email, so I can’t claim this is an email question:

Do you have any suggested reading on diet and everyday life in late antiquity / early Dark Ages?

One problem with answering questions on Twitter is the 140-character limit. My initial reaction to the question was that this is something Melissa Snell, Medieval History Guide, probably has lots of information on, and that’s still my answer, but I did find and recommend an interesting article: “Female Longevity and Diet in the Middle Ages,” by Vern Bullough and Cameron Campbell. Speculum, Vol. 55, No. 2 (Apr., 1980), pp. 317-325. The point made is that around the 9th century women started outliving men because there was finally enough protein and iron in the diet. This came following a change in farming methods. The earlier, Roman diet had consisted of mostly bread, made of rye, wheat, or barley mixtures, and a broth made from whatever was available. In the ninth century, a new plow was developed and a three-field rotation replaced a two-field rotation. In addition, by the time of Charlemagne, protein-providing and plentiful rabbits had been introduced from Spain making meat more available for peasants.

Seneca’s Oedipus to be staged

From Leigh Valley

Moravian College works with Touchstone Theatre
School receives outside assistance to stage Roman version of classic tragedy “Oedipus.”
Saturday, March 28, 2009
The Express-Times

Christopher Shorr thinks the nation could use a healthy dose of Roman theater.

Shorr, a visiting assistant professor of English at Moravian College who runs the school’s theater department, says the visceral nature of Roman drama helped guide his decision to have his students perform “Oedipus” by Seneca.

The Greek “Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles, is the more famous play. But Shorr wanted to produce Seneca’s later version, because he wanted to challenge his students and because he thought the timing seemed right.

“Maybe America is ready for some Roman tragedy,” says Shorr. “There are things that are happening in our society that show that we’re not as young and optimistic as we once were, and as the Greeks once were.”

“Oedipus” opens Thursday at Moravian College’s Arena Theater and runs through April 5. The Moravian College Theatre Company is producing the play, in conjunction with Touchstone Theatre.

Romans borrowed a great deal of their culture from the Greeks, adding their own cultural twist. So instead of Zeus, the Romans had Jupiter. And they may not have changed the name of “Oedipus,” or the central storyline — a man tries to avoid his fate of killing his father and marrying his mother and ends up doing just that — but Shorr points out some key differences.

For one thing, there’s a lot more blood.

“One of the major differences bet Greek tragedy and Roman tragedy, in general, is that in Greek tragedy more violence happens offstage, whereas in Roman tragedy the violence happens onstage,” Shorr says.

This creates subtle changes in the plot, too. (Spoiler alert.) In Sophocles’ play, Oedipus blinds himself (offstage) after his wife/mother, Jocasta, commits suicide. In the Roman version, Jocasta discovers her son already blinded, and stabs herself, onstage.

Shorr reached out to Touchstone Theatre for help with staging “Oedipus.” A former Virginia resident, Shorr says he knew of the South Bethlehem theater company’s reputation before he moved to the Lehigh Valley. Touchstone ensemble member James Jordan says the troupe had not collaborated with Moravian before, and the opportunity seemed right.

Jordan consulted on the technical aspects of “Oedipus,” pushing the students to come up with creative solutions to the problems of Seneca’s play. They responded well, Jordan says.

“I’ve been amazed at some of the students and their willingness to immerse themselves in the work,” he says. “It’s neat to … pass the torch and give them the knowledge.”

Shorr says the collaboration with Touchstone was a success, and made sense from the start.

“Because the theater program is very small, we don’t have a faculty of acting teachers and directing teachers and designing teachers … we just have me,” he says.

Jordan agrees: “It’s just this perfect match, and such a fulfilling experience,” he says.

“Oedipus” stars Moravian College student Jason Ginther in the title role, student Becky Kolacki as Jocasta and professor Christopher Jones as Creon. Because of the play’s violence and mature themes, it is not suitable for children.

Adam Richter can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at