Battle in Robert Harris: p. 248 of Conspirata (Or, If You’re in the UK, Lustrum)

Cicero’s great enemy is Catilina. Catilina is dispatched, as self knew he would be (She’s read about Catilina’s dispatching in both SPQR and Tom Holland’s Rubicon). But, as Harris writes a few pages earlier, No victories in politics are permanent (This is a paraphrase; self has little time to be hunting up the exact page, as the day is almost done and she hasn’t met her day’s writing quota).

Still, Harris manages to make Catilina’s defeat exciting:

  • It was a terrible carnage and Catilina was in the thick of it all day. Not one of his lieutenants surrendered. They fought with the ferocious abandon of men with nothing to lose. Only when Petreius sent in a crack praetorian cohort did the rebel army finally collapse. Every one of Catilina’s followers, including Manlius, died where he stood; afterwards their wounds were found to be entirely in the front and none in the back.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Greek Philosophy in Robert Harris

The Stoics vs. Aristotle & Plato

pp. 199 – 200 of Conspirata (Lustrum in the UK; self has to make that distinction every time, it’s a bear)

Cicero delivers a speech to the Roman Senate, making fun of his colleague Cato:

For there was a man of genius called Zeno, and the disciples of his teaching are called stoics. Here are some of his precepts: the wise man is never moved by favour and never forgives anyone’s mistakes; only a fool feels pity; all misdeeds are equal, the casual killing of a cock no less a crime than strangling one’s father; the wise man never assumes anything, never regrets anything, is never wrong, never changes his mind.

Now I must admit when I was younger I also took some interest in philosophy. My masters, though, were Plato and Aristotle. They don’t hold violent or extreme views. They say that favour can sometimes influence the wise man; that a good man can feel pity; that there are different degrees of wrongdoing and different punishments; that the wise man often makes assumptions when he doesn’t know the facts, and is sometimes angry, and sometimes forgives, and sometimes changes his mind; that all virtue is saved from excess by a so-called mean. If you had studied these masters, Cato, you might not be a better man or braver — that would be impossible — but you might be a little more kind.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

CATO in Robert Harris (Conspirata, p. 92)

#amreading all Imperial Rome narratives

Until next week, when self begins Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Robert Harris’s Conspirata (In the United Kingdom it’s got a different title: Lustrum) covers exactly the same ground as the books self just finished reading: SPQR by Mary Beard, and Rubicon by Tom Holland. So she knows how everything is going to end. But Harris is such a good writer (She read Fatherland, years ago: highly recommend) that self is giving Conspirata a go.

Here’s a speech by Cato which self thinks is fascinating for what it reveals of the character (Also, it is interesting that millions of youths around the world see the name Cato and think immediately of that blonde bully in The Hunger Games):

Never be moved by favour. Never appease. Never forgive a wrong. Never differentiate between things that are wrong — what is wrong is wrong, whatever the size of the misdemeanour, and that is the end of the matter. And finally, never compromise on any of these principles. “The man who has the strength to follow them — is always handsome however misshapen, always rich however needy, always a king however much a slave.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: from ANNAGHMAKERRIG, Book # 7, Unit # 1, Tyrone Guthrie

Salt, Chapter 1, by Claire Keegan

I married Billy Fennell in a cold, lambing season . . . Nobody came to our wedding.

Book # 6: Unit # 1, Tyrone Guthrie Centre

A Clash of Kings, by George R. R. Martin

This book was here last year, when self was undergoing very painful Game of Thrones withdrawal symptoms, because she had missed the last four episodes of Season 6. It saved her life.

Leaving King’s Landing was easy, just like he’d said. The Lannister guardsmen on the gate were stopping everyone, but Yoren called one by name and their wagons were waved through. No one spared Arya a glance. They were looking for a highborn girl, daughter of the King’s Hand, not for a skinny boy with his hair chopped off.

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They took five wagons out of King’s Landing, laden with supplies for the Wall; hides and bolts of cloth, bars of pig iron, a cage of ravens, books and paper and ink, a bale of sourleaf, jars of oil, and chests of medicine and spices. Teams of plow horses pulled the wagons, and Yoren had brought two coursers and a half-dozen donkeys for the boys. Arya would have preferred a real horse, bu the donkey was better than riding on a wagon.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Book # 4: Unit # 1, Tyrone Guthrie Centre

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This morning, the first thing after I got out of bed, I looked in the mirror.

— Chapter One, Part One, Young Adam by Alexander Trocchi

About Alexander Trocchi:

Born and educated in Glasgow, Trocchi joined the Parisian literary scene of the early 1950s. He was editor of Merlin — the influential Paris quarterly magazine which helped establish the reputations of fellow expatriates Samuel Beckett and Henry Miller.

In case you were wondering: yes, that is in fact Ewan McGregor on the book cover. The book was made into a film.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

In Honor of International Women’s Day

Books that rocked self’s world:

  • Break It Down, by Lydia Davis
  • Empty Chairs, by Liu Xia
  • The Charm Buyers, by Lillian Howan
  • Yes (A screenplay), by Sally Potter
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
  • Night Willow, by Luisa Igloria
  • Palayok: Philippine Food Through Time, by Doreen Fernandez
  • The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
  • Bad Behavior, by Mary Gaitskill
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  • After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
  • Memories Flow In Our Veins: Forty Years of Women’s Writings from Calyx, edited by the Calyx Editorial Collective
  • The Infernal Devices Trilogy, by Cassandra Clare
  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  • Going Home to a Landscape: a Filipino Women’s Anthology, edited by Virginia Cerenio and Marianne Villanueva

Sentence of the Day: AMERICAN GODS, p. 307

So far, really enjoying this road trip with supernatural elements thrown in.  There are so many interesting encounters, and Gaiman writes like a dream.

The below is part of a very long rant by a woman named Sam:

  • I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like the Martians in War of the Worlds.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Dinner is Served: Spaghetti and Meatballs, AMERICAN GODS, pp. 304- 305

Shadow is invited to dinner by a woman named Marguerite Olsen and meets Marguerite’s half-sister Sam (same father, different mothers: Sam’s mom moved to Tasmania after meeting “a guy on the Internet who lived in Hobart”) Sam tells him

  • “how all the aboriginal natives of Tasmania had been wiped out by the British, and about the human chain they made across the island to catch them which trapped only an old man and a sick boy. She told him how the thylacines — the Tasmanian tigers — had been killed by farmers, scared for their sheep, how the politicians in the 1930s noticed that the thylacines should be protected only after the last of them was dead.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Story of the Twins: AMERICAN GODS

It’s a very long fable that gets dropped in on p. 252, and it is one of self’s favorite sections, so far.

The events unfold in 1778 (How does self know? Because Gaiman puts the date right before the beginning of the fable, lol). The twins are born, captured by slave traders, and separated at auction. This part is so horrific, but Gaiman’s voice is at its most mesmerizing:

Their uncle was a fat and lazy man. If he had owned more cattle, perhaps he would have given up one of his cattle instead of the children, but he did not. He sold the twins. Enough of him: he shall not enter further into this narrative. We follow the twins.

In addition, today, self watched Fences. She hasn’t seen the original play, but the first third or so of the movie is very play-iike. The action is mostly limited to the confines of a house, and there’s a whole lot of braggadocio from Denzel’s character, Troy. About a third of the way in, however, the story takes a very interesting turn, and self was never less than absorbed.

She does feel, however, that the movie should have closed with the image of Troy swinging futilely away at a baseball attached by a frayed rope to a tree branch. Troy’s face as the camera zooms in — riveting. Instead, we’re given a kind of epilogue. It’s nice to see what happens to Troy’s son, Cory, though.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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