Earth Day, April 2017

Share an image that means ‘earth’ to you — whether it’s a panorama of a landscape that takes your breath away, a close-up revealing a detail in nature, or another scene that honors the outdoors . . .

— Cheri Lucas Rowlands, The Daily Post

Went for a long walk this morning, in honor of Earth Day. It was peaceful and beautiful by the lake. Here are some pictures:

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The first swan she’s seen at the lake this year!

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More flowers popping up all over!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Surprise! It’s Spring

Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise!

— Wallace Stevens, quoted in The Daily Post

Yesterday was self’s first walk to the lake in over a month. It’s but a five or 10-minute walk at the most. But self has been busy, and the weather’s been unpredictable.

Yesterday, Esther came to change the sheets. So self took advantage of the break to go out of her cottage. And the first thing she noticed was: close by the cottages, there were suddenly so many flowers! (Has it really been that long since she took a walk? Apparently, it has! Surprise!)

Self had a lovely walk. Spring has truly arrived!

Here are some other beautiful spring shots:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Pugnacious Fulvia: RUBICON, pp. 365 – 366

TRIGGER WARNING: PHYSICAL BRUTALITY, MAIMING OF CORPSES

At this point in Tom Holland’s Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, Julius Caesar has been murdered and Rome is descending into anarchy. The murder of the great man was a tad anti-climactic, mebbe because self read that section on the same night that the United States dropped its most powerful (non-nuclear) bomb on Afghanistan? #SMH

In one of those super-ironic, stranger-than-fiction developments, the 18-year-old boy who showed up unannounced at Cicero’s villa, a few pages earlier, the one who turned out to be the designated heir of the murdered Caesar, exhibits great stores of determination. He manages to raise his own army (selling his own property in order to do so) and marches on Rome to assert his rights as Caesar’s heir. Just a month earlier, the kid was on the border with Parthia, fighting in one of those expeditionary Roman legions. Now, he has Rome on its knees? Go figure.

The murder of Caesar is as nothing compared to the execution of Cicero. Cicero had sided with the plotters. He had a chance to flee and join the forces of Brutus and Cassio, but his ship was delayed by a storm. And while waiting out the storm, Cicero then made what Holland calls the most courageous decision of his life, which was NOT TO FLEE.

His executioners caught up with him while he was heading to one of his villas, whereupon Cicero stuck his head out of his palanquin and offered his own throat up.

When the head and hands of Cicero were brought to the Capitol, the widow of one of Cicero’s enemies, one Fulvia, hurried to inspect the grisly souvenirs. Whereupon she spat on Cicero’s head, and pulled his tongue out with a hairpin.

Now married to Marc Antony (who was off dawdling with Cleopatra in the East), the “ever pugnacious Fulvia” attempted to stir up a rebellion in Italy. Her opponent, the boy Caesar, was able to quell the rebellion (but just barely). His revenge on Fulvia was to pen “abusive verses on the subject of her nymphomania.”

Let’s get this straight: the woman pulled out Cicero’s tongue with a hairpin (granted, the man was already dead); she tried to start a rebellion against Caesar’s heir; and on top of all that, she was a nymphomaniac? What next?

You can see why the murder of Julius Caesar, his stabbing by senators in the Forum, is really small potatoes compared to what happens after.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Nearing the End of RUBICON

The next book in her reading list is a novel, which is a change from the history she’s been reading most of 2017. But it’s a novel of ancient Rome, and the lead character is Cicero, who’s been a major player in SPQR and Rubicon. She’ll probably move faster through that book. In the US it’s Conspirata but in Ireland it has a different name — ? She ordered it from Dublin bookstore Chapters.

After that, she’ll be reading Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, and then William Finnegan’s surfing memoir, Barbarian Days. Those are the last books she brought with her from the States. After that, everything she reads will be what she can find here.

Rubicon was great. Five stars.

In the final pages, a young man appears at the home of Cicero, introducing himself as the heir of the murdered Julius Caesar. The stranger is blonde, bright-eyed, all of 18. A month earlier, he’d been with an expeditionary force on the Roman frontier of Parthia. Next thing you know, Julius Caesar is murdered, the will is read, and the eighteen-year-old becomes Julius Caesar’s designated heir.

You couldn’t make stuff like this up.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Tom Holland, RUBICON, p. 120

We learn about the importance of outward appearance in Rubicon, p. 120:

Julius Caesar was forced to flee Rome because of a power struggle in which he ended up on the wrong side, saved from assassination only by his mother’s family ties to some of Rome’s richest and wealthiest.

While in Rome, young Caesar raised eyebrows when he wore “his belt too loosely. In the courts of Eastern kings, however, stylish dressers were much admired, and the provincial authorities were quick to realise that the patrician dandy would be ideally cut out for diplomatic missions. Caesar was accordingly dispatched to Nicomedes, the King of Bithynia — who was indeed charmed by his Roman guest. Too charmed . . .  Nicomedes was believed to have demonstrated his appreciation of Caesar by taking him as a lover.”

By the time Julius Caesar returned to Rome, “not only had he” managed to keep “Nicomedes sweet . . . he had managed to borrow much of Nicomedes’ fleet.”

Those Romans, though! #SMH

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: The Next in Self’s Imperial Saga Reading List

In the book self just read, SPQR, Mary Beard told of how, in a shockingly short period of time (less than a year?), Imperial Rome destroyed two cities that had stood for hundreds and hundreds of years. Not just destroyed, but razed to the ground, killing all the survivors (Not women, though — those were enslaved) and forbidding anyone from building over the ruins. The cities were Carthage and Corinth.

(Since these two were centers of culture in the ancient world, no one knows exactly how much ancient history was effaced, but the loss must have been substantial.)

Which brings to mind an anecdote from Mary Beard: some Carthaginian potentate was accustomed to playing the Romans, always delaying the response to Roman demands, or ignoring them completely, with slight consequence. One day, a Roman general appeared at the head of (xxx) legions. He presented the Roman demand to the Carthaginian. The Carthaginian received the demand and said he would think on it. The Roman drew a circle around the Carthaginian’s feet (with his sword) and said that before the other man stepped outside of that circle, he must have an answer. The answer came almost immediately.

In Rubicon, by Tom Holland, self learns what happened to the former Carthaginian territories, specifically the ones in Spain:

  • The mines that Rome had annexed from Carthage . . .  had been handed over to the publicani, who proceeded to exploit them . . . A single network of tunnels might spread for more than a hundred square miles, and provide upwards of forty thousand slaves with a living death. Over the pockmarked landscape there would invariably hang a pall of smog, belched out from the smelting furnaces through giant chimneys, and so heavy with chemicals that it burned the naked skin and turned it white. Birds would die if they flew through the fumes. As Roman power spread, the gas-clouds were never far behind . . . for every ton of silver extracted over ten thousand tons of rock had to be quarried. — pp. 42 -43, Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, by Tom Holland

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Density in Annaghmakerrig

Self loves looking at things up close. Very, very up close.

But she also loves looking for patterns.

And she also works (in her writing) through layering, which is more the way a visual artist works.

And this week, in Annaghmakerrig (more specifically, the Tyrone Guthrie Centre), she found many, many opportunities to elaborate on The Daily Post Photo Challenge this week, DENSE:

Pillows and bedcovers:

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Pillow and Blanket: Self loves the saturation of color. Also, she’s never seen a white so blinding as it is here in Annaghmakerrig.

More trees! This shot self took yesterday evening. It had rained all day. Suddenly, around 7 p.m., sun!

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Annaghmakerrig, After a Day of Constant Rain

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Bernadette Burns: Whether it’s because she lives on an island (off Skibbereen, West Cork) and self’s father came from an island (in the Philippines), self saw so many affinities with her work. Look at the dark boat, floating on an ethereal sea. The boat looks amazingly DENSE, yet it floats.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 3 April 2017

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Art by Bernadette Burns, from Skibbereen, West Cork : http://www.bernadetteburns.com

Bernadette Burns left Tyrone Guthrie this morning, early.

She told self to go to her studio; she’d leave something.

A few minutes ago, self ran through rain, entered the studio, which was completely empty, ready for the next occupant.

On a table, a note and two prints.

#love #sobeautiful

This is what her studio looked like, just two days ago:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

pp. 398 – 399, Mary Beard

TRIGGER WARNING: Because some of those Roman Emperors #selfshakesherhead were clearly cray-cray.

The Emperor Commodus “dressed as a gladiator and” threatened “the senators in the front-row seats of the Colosseum by waving the head of a decapitated ostrich at them” (An eyewitness “had to pluck some laurel leaves from the wreath he was wearing and stuff them in his mouth to stifle the giggles.”)

Tiberius retired from public life almost entirely, preferring to stay in his villa on Capri where he used “little fishes” (euphemism for “boys”) to nibble at his _________ underwater. (There is a film re-enactment in Bob Guccione’s 1970s Caligula)

Mary Beard says the following is “even more chilling” than Tiberius or Commodus: Domitian would torture “flies by killing them with his pen.”

#what #Sorrybutno #youcannotbeserious #whocaresaboutflies

She derides Marcus Aurelius for being cliché: “Do not act as if you were going to live 10,000 years. Death hangs over you.”

Vespasian (69 CE) put “a tax on human urine.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Caligula’s Real Name Means . . .

You will not believe this, but according to Mary Beard, the name ‘Caligula’ means Bootikins.

It was a nickname whose origin was thus:

His parents “had taken him as a young child to military campaigns and dressed him up in a miniature soldier’s uniform, including some trademark miniature army boots (The Latin for boots is caligae).”

— p. 391 SPQR

#lmao

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