Mary Beard Sentence of the Day

Hypocrisy is a common weapon of power.

p. 358, SPQR

Mary Beard: How To Lose an Election Campaign

In early Roman times, campaigns used public debate and canvassing to win elections. The debates were “semi-formal meetings,” at which loud “political passion” was so involved that once a crow “which had the bad luck to be flying past” (I believe that’s a Mary Beard joke) “fell to the ground, stunned.”

In the second century BCE, a candidate named Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica (You can forget the name now; he’s not important. In fact, self doesn’t know why she bothered to type out the entire name rather than identifying him as PCSN) “was out canvassing one day in a bid to be elected to the office of” blah blah “and was busy shaking the hands of voters . . . when he came across one whose hands were hardened by work in the fields. ‘My goodness,’ PCSN joked, do you walk on them?’ He was overheard and the common people concluded that he had been taunting their poverty and their labour. The upshot, needless to say, was that he lost the election.”

#lol

SPQR p. 192: only the rich could afford to run for public office (Campaigns, then as now, are expensive) but “success . . .  was a gift bestowed by the poor.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreadingpoetry: James Merrill

Fed
Up so long and variously by
Our age’s fancy narrative concoctions,
I yearned for the kind of unseasoned telling found
In legends, fairy tales, a tone licked clean
Over the centuries by mild old tongues,
Grandam to cub, serene, anonymous.
. . . So my narrative
Wanted to be limpid, unfragmented;
My characters, conventional stock figures
Afflicted to a minimal degree
With personality and past experience —
A witch, a hermit, innocent young lovers,
The kinds of being we recall from Grimm,
Jung, Verdi, and the commedia dell’arte.

— James Merrill, excerpt from the long poem The Changing Light at Sandover

Dense 3: Annaghmakerrig

“A walk in the woods presented so many different textures bumping into each other . . . thick, bright, impenetrable.” — Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

Three examples, for this week’s Photo Challenge: DENSE

Stone, Pattern, Paint

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Stone and Narrow Windows: Studios in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

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Detail of a Work By Kathy Prendergast (b. 1958, Dublin)

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Detail of a Work by Nick Miller (b. 1962, London, lives and works in County Sligo)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Beautiful Day in Annaghmakerrig

#amwriting #TyroneGuthrieCentre #Annaghmakerrig

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Dense 2: At the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig

Texture. Texture. Texture.

That’s what she thinks about, when she thinks of this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: DENSE.

Self loves stone, and exposed brick, and rough surface, like the inner walls of her cottage:

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Interior Wall of Self’s Unit at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig

In attempting a picture of a painting, she ended up “layering” the image with the reflection of the room behind her: her writing studio.

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Self does all her writing in this room on the 2nd floor. She was trying to take a picture of a painting in her room and ended up experimenting with the reflections on the glass.

#amwritingfantasy

Excerpt of the story she’s been writing (TRIGGER WARNING: Language):

Drinker says, low: “Big passed.”

I answer:  “Fucker. Big’s not big. He’s Big XXX. Mark it. I slash three quick XXXs across my screen.”

Finally, what real bread looks like: a loaf from Cootehill SuperValu (studded with cranberries) Self has been slicing off thick chunks, toasting, and then slathering with rich Irish butter)

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Handmade, Cranberry Loaf

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More From Mary Beard

Self just loves writing that name so much: Mary Beard. Mary Beard.

It’s a wonderful name for a writer. Maybe if self was a man, she would still like to be called Mary Beard.

Anyhoo, in SPQR, Mary Beard tells us that the Imperial Roman Army was divided into centuries (So that’s where that word comes from!). These centuries were not all equal: even the rich served, so in the army the top “eighty centuries of men” were from “the richest, first class, who fought in a full kit of heavy bronze armour.”

Following these were four more centuries, “wearing progressively lighter armour” (“the richer you are, the more substantial and expensive equipment you can provide for yourself”).

The lowest class of centuries “fought with just slings and stones.”

The “very poorest . . . were entirely exempt from military service.”

#Huh

Would the reasoning go something like: The rich have the most to lose, so they would make the best warriors. The poorest class have nothing to lose, so we can’t trust them to defend the motherland with the same determination (Plus, if they can’t afford their own armor, the poor things would be killed quite handily)

Thinking of the modern-day American Army, it is an all-volunteer Army. No rich man needs to fight. Neither do the children of the rich.

You will see that certain states are more well-represented than others. Such as, for instance, West Virginia. Most people who sign up for the Army do so because they can’t afford to pay for college on their own; if they sign up, the Army will pay for college. So, they take their chances.

(Self has seen recruiting stations in malls in Daly City and South San Francisco, NEVER in Palo Alto, Cupertino, Menlo Park, etc etc Not even in downtown San Francisco. Need you ask why?)

This organization had a parallel in the voting structure (At least Imperial Rome recognized the vote!): Each century had just one block vote (like our American electoral college): “If they stuck together , the eighty centuries of the richest, first class . . .  could outvote all the other classes put together . . .  The richest citizens were far fewer in number than the poor, but they were divided among eighty centuries, as against the twenty or thirty for the more populous lower classes, or the single century for the mass of the very poorest.”

Fascinating.

Stay tuned.

The Emperor Claudiues, 48 CE

  • Claudius knew a good deal about Etruscan history. Among his many learned researches he had written a 20-volume study of the Etruscans, in Greek, as well as compiling an Etruscan dictionary.

SPQR, p. 114

To describe someone who has written a 20-volume study of the Etruscans as someone who “knew a good deal” about Etruscan history is . . .

Self will just go ahead and call it: the #understatementoftheyear

Stay tuned.

Dense: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 29 March 2017

This week, let’s get into the thick of things.

— Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

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The Forest Around Annaghmakerrig: Evening

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The Forest Around Annaghmakerrig: Dawn

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The Forest Seen From the Lake: Early March

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

212 CE: Emperor Caracalla Grants Full Rights of Citizenship to Every Member of the Roman Empire

The Roman Senate gradually became what we might now describe as a decidedly multicultural body, and the full list of Roman emperors contains many whose origins lay outside Italy: Caracalla’s father, Septimius Severus, was the first Emperor from Roman territory in Africa; Trajan and Hadrian, who reigned half a century earlier, had come from the Roman province of Spain . . .  Rome had been open to foreigners from the beginning.

— Mary Beard in SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, p. 67

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