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The difficult art of prose. Oscar Wilde, his Oxford years and the Greeks

Oscar Wilde. courtesy of the Oxonian Review. Source

Oscar Wilde. courtesy of the Oxonian Review. Source

Since I’ve been experiencing in the last month ‘the difficult art of prose’ in a foreign language (text will be rewritten three times, here’s the Italian original, definitely better) I’ve googled the said words and have found this article by Thomas Wright on Oscar Wilde that I liked quite a lot (and which incidentally considers the notion in an entirely different way.)

Apart from the difference between poetry writing and prose writing, the article is rich with details about Oscar Wilde’s education at Oxford (it seems that Wilde’s poetry blossomed at Oxford; then Walter Pater came and said: “Why do you always write poetry?”)

At Magdalen College, Oxford, “Wilde flourished in variegated ways – Thomas Wright narrates. “He mastered the rigors of the literae humaniores or ‘Greats’ course […]“

“During his undergraduate years Wilde also perfected the persona—part aesthete, part Disraelian dandy, and part Athenian philosopher—with which he would later make a splash in London’s artistic and social circles.

The aesthetic flaneur who liked to pose as a ‘dilettante trifling with his books’ at Oxford was really only pretending to be wicked. The truth was, Wilde read hard ‘surreptitiously, into the small hours’ in a bedroom bursting with books and cigarette smoke.”

“Along with all the primary and secondary set texts of his Greats course,” – Thomas Wright goes on – “he devoured at Magdalen the writings of Hegel, Kant, Schopenhauer, Darwin, Clifford, Buckle, and Spencer, drawing from them the central tenets of his own intellectual credo.”

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After analysing the influence played on O.W. by Walter Pater and his Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873), the article mentions John Addington Symonds’ two-volume Studies of the Greek Poets (1873 & 1876), another of Wilde’s “golden books.”

What Thomas Wright writes here is interesting:

“A Trinity [College, Dublin, MoR] contemporary would recall Wilde’s love of Studies—the book was, he remembered, perpetually in Wilde’s hands. [...]“

“Studies offers an imaginative analysis of most of the surviving corpus of Greek literature; Symonds also discusses Greek historiography, mythology, philosophy, and the genius of Greek art. In the late 19th century, classical works were often regarded, in Mahaffy’s words, as ‘mere treasure-houses of roots and forms to be sought out by comparative grammarians’, with many classicists focusing solely on the linguistic minutiae of the texts. The historicist school of scholarship was also prominent in the period […]

In Studies, Symonds eschewed both philological and historicist approaches. He attempted instead to enter [emphasis by  MoR] into a stimulating dialogue, across the centuries, with the ancients. He regarded the Greeks as essentially modern men, whose literature spoke directly to 19th-century readers. He also believed that the ancients had exercised a profound influence on contemporary culture. “Except the blind forces of nature,” he declared, “nothing moves in this world that is not Greek in its origin”—a phrase that Wilde would quote with approval. Symonds drew attention to the many points at which modern and ancient cultures touched, comparing Aristophanes to Mozart, Aeschylus to Shakespeare, Greek Myth to Medieval Romance, and Greek drama to European Opera. Wilde marked many of these parallels in his copy of Studies.

Wilde enthusiastically embraced Symonds’s approach to the ancients […]

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A side note by MoR. Symonds’ approach is extreme and simplistic. He doesn’t consider:

1. That the Greeks were just dwarfs on the shoulder of giants (their mythology, philosophy, science and art would not exist without the Egyptians, the Hebrews, the entire Fertile Crescent up to Mesopotamia) 2. that these giants were in their turn dwarfs, at their beginnings, on the shoulders of someone else (even though deprived of writing) 3. Rome’s substantial, and creative, contribution 4. the contribution of India and China, equally substantial 4. the Arabs etc.

And yet in many ways he is right, in my view, as this blog tries to point out in various ways (see a list of posts below, although ‘a quirky research on Romanness’ says it all’.)

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Related posts.

The Weird Story of a Beautiful Girl Whose Body Was Found Incorrupt in a Coffin

14 Places in Egypt You Must Visit in 2014

Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria etc. Arab Spring Revolutions seen from Rome (2)

Over at Cheri’s. Alcibiades, the Golden Dude of Classical Greece

La communication intérieure

Posted on

Man of Roma:

Elisabeth (tarotpsychologique) writes:

“Elly Roselle a développé des outils pour communiquer efficacement avec des facettes de notre personnalité qui s’opposent à ce que nous voulons de la vie, afin qu’elles deviennent une force qui contribuent à la réalisation de nos rêves et désirs”.

“Les recherches de Elly Roselle ont démontré que les messages conflictuels que nous recevons à l’intérieur de nous-mêmes qu’ils soient de nature psychosomatique, émotionnelle ou mentale, sont un reflet des croyances conscientes et inconscientes que nous transportons de génération en génération[les italiques sont de nous].

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MoR: “Dear Elisabeth, I may be pulling Elly Roselle’s thought by the sleeve (and am in any case too wide-ranging) but I here see a link to a Gramsci’s notion I received via my Mentor (or Maestro.) which I later developed in my own free-wheeling way [see related post below.]

I’ll thus quote Antonio Gramsci directly:

“[People's - not the pro philosophers' - conception of the world may be strangely composite] : it contains – Gramsci argues – Stone Age elements and principles of a more advanced science, prejudices from all past phases of history [etc. ]

The starting point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is ‘knowing thyself’ (1) as a product of the historical (2) process to date which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory. The first thing to do is to make such an inventory [all italics is mine].”

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Notes.

(1) “Know thyself” [γνῶθι σεαυτόν, MoR] was the inscription written above the gate of the Oracle at Delphi, and became a principle of Socratic philosophy. [This note and Gramsci's translation is from: Antonio Gramsci. Selection from the Prison Notebooks. Lawrence & Wishart. London, 1971; now freely available in PDF, said passage: pp. 627-628]
(2) I do not agree with the adjective historical, unless Gramsci – as I just suppose, I was studying Gramsci 42 years ago! –  makes evolution & history as one. I’ll think about it, although, his mentioning ‘Stone Age’ is revealing in some way.

ψ

Related post (with better-than-the-post discussion) :

Is the Human Mind like a Museum?

 

Originally posted on tarot psychologique:

La communication intérieure se manifeste par des messages que nous recevons de notre intérieur, sous forme de pensées, d’images, d’émotions et de sensations physiques. Voici quelques exemples : Vous est-il déjà arrivé de ne pas pouvoir dormir à cause de scénarios d’inquiétude qui trottaient sans arrêt dans votre tête ?

Vous est-il déjà arrivé de vouloir complimenter une personne que vous ne connaissez pas et soudainement bloquer votre élan lorsqu’une peur du rejet fait surface ? Vous est-il déjà arrivé de vous critiquer intérieurement parce que vous avez subi un échec ?

chat  lionNotre communication intérieure se reflète dans notre communication avec les autres. Les croyances et perceptions que nous avons et les émotions que nous ressentons se manifestent dans la tonalité de notre voix et dans notre langage verbal et corporel, cela est bien connu.

Les gens qui vous critiquent ont leur propre critiqueur interne. Les gens durs et intransigeants…

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14 Places in Egypt You Must Visit in 2014

14 Places in Egypt You Must Visit in 2014

Man of Roma:

Il Cairo. From Ansa. Fair use

Il Cairo. From Ansa. Fair use

[Needs some pruning perhaps and related posts and links at the end. After this blog's new graphical clothing is up and running. Too many WordPress pages tangled with posts: custom menus  may be the solution]

ψ

An excellent blog about Egypt. I will hunt for others.

Mario: “Why Egypt?”

MoR: “Everybody liking Antiquity must have Egypt in his / her mind.”

Fulvia: “I thought Greece and Rome shaped what became later the ‘proud West’ that conquered the world”

Extropian: “C’mon, Fulvia, that I can’t take my eyes away from your bazookas doesn’t mean you haven’t said ‘na stronzata!”
*they all laughing & winking at her*

The Tobacconist: “Allow me, Fulvia, friends. That the Greco-Romans of any time went, for their Grand Tour, to Egypt and to other Semitic lands – and beyond, with links to Mesopotamia & India – is a historical fact.”

ψ

A conversation actually occurring at an outdoors cafe in Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, clouds looming all over.

Campo dei Fiori a Roma. Cielo nuvoloso

Campo de’ Fiori a Roma. Cielo nuvoloso. Source. Courtesy of OtveTur.ru. Click on last link for great pictures of Rome

Clodia standing not far and overhearing our conversatioin, sits at our table in a flash.

A high-brow seductive slut of 45, Clodia. Some of us call her Lesbia, Catullus’ lascivious-refined lover).

“My dear friends – she breaks the ice – this conversation has captured my attention (and that female friend was so boring I much prefer here”
*Looking at the men furtively, her Scarlett-Johansson-like body invisibly vibrating*

“Should I remind you that in any philosophy manual for schools accurate scholars argue that philosophy and science were born in Greece? That other races, considered well not lower – on peut pas dire cela – toutefois incapable …”

ω

Everyone ignores her words, rejected in a quasi-careless way due to their absurdity, although, thing being, we are also – men and women alike – absolutely mesmerized by Clodia’s sensual magic.

It pervades the air round us since she sat down. Spring, despite the lousy weather, not helping much either.

ω

“A sensuality that could rival that of Cleopatra (had Cleopatra been less intelligent)” was the thought of a few of us.

Wrong, Clodia is refined and cultivated, but Cleopatra (Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ,) who seduced both Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius and (which counts much more) the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt c’mon.

Cleopatra VII in hieroglyphs

Cleopatra VII (69 BCE – 30 BCE), last Pharaoh of Egypt, in hieroglyphs. Click for source. Wikipedia

Vénus de l'Esquilin or Venus Esquilina

Esquiline Venus, found in 1874 on the Esquiline Hill in Rome (from the Horti Lamiani possibly). Capitoline Museums, Rome. To some scholar the model for this statue was Cleopatra herself

The Samnite, 30, his brand-new Sony smartphone in his left hand, saves us all:

“Let me see … yes. In A.L. Basham introduction to Oxford’s A cultural History of India one reads:

“The four main cradles of civilizations …. moving from east to west … [were] China, the Indian subcontinent, the Fertile Crescent, and the Mediterranean, especially Greece and Italy.”

Extropian: “That the Greco-Romans (and, later, proud conquering West) were considered the high races and the Semitic and other folks the lower races (incapable of real philosophy and science – you find it in almost all European manuals of the first half of the 1900, not just those by a certain type of German historians in the 1930’s.”

The Samnite: “Which means justifying colonialism with ideology and history (of philosophy, science etc.)”

MoR: “Despite the fact that history is never neutral, yes, this is the idea.”

Egyptian jewel

Egyptian jewel

 

Enjoy Egypt’s Antiquity, readers, much more ancient than the Greeks (and deeper in wisdom & philosophy, what do you think?)

Originally posted on Egyptian Streets:

Credit: Mohamed Hakem

The White Desert Credit: Mohamed Hakem

While Egypt may be facing political and social turmoil, Egypt’s exotic, mysterious and historic locations continue to stand, receiving adventurers and explorers. If you are thinking of exploring Egypt in 2014, then here are 14 must-visit places in Egypt, along with others that you should already have planned to see!

(Note: Many of these photographs are thanks to Mohamed Hakem. Check out his blog heremhakem.com)

1. The White Desert

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Credit: Mohamed Hakem

While it may look like the moon, this photograph was taken at the White Desert near Bahareya Oasis. The white surfaced desert which resembles an alien planet has been used to film Sci-Fi movies, including Vin Diesel’s Riddick. The desert is renowned for its rock formations, safari trips, and over night camping.

2. Sultan Qalawun Mosque in Old Cairo

Sultan Qalawun Mosque in Old Cairo

Credit: Mohamed Hakem

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Credit: Mohamed Hakem

While Old Cairo is filled…

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How to write Greek Uncial

Posted on

Man of Roma:

Found In Antiquity Carla Shodde

For lack of time I’ll reveal tomorrow the secret of secrets.

(How to Learn Ancient Greek in 7 days)

ψ

I will thus reblog Carla Shodde‘s fantastic post.

Mario: “A lose lose situation then”
“Not at all. It will allow readers to rest on the Seventh Day, according to Universal Good and Justice”
Fulvia: “I don’t get it”
30-year-old Samnite Youth: “Daje Fulvia, you’ll get ahead one day by just watching Carla Shodder writing in Greek Uncial ca. 350 CE.”

*Fulvia is staring*[Just ancient craftiness, her inner soul is void, blank void]

 

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

 

Originally posted on Found in Antiquity:

Have you ever wondered how to write in one of earliest Ancient Greek calligraphic scripts? Wonder no more! I’m happy to present the first video I’ve made for Found in Antiquity, so that you can see first hand how to write the alphabet in Greek Uncial.

What exactly is Greek Uncial?

Greek Uncial hails from the first few centuries of the Common Era. Unlike Ancient Greek cursive, Uncial is surprisingly readable even if you’re mostly used to reading modern Greek letter forms. While most of the surviving examples were written on parchment, Greek Uncial started life on papyrus and was generally used for literary texts like Homer’s Iliad (below).

2nd century AD, Greek Uncial on papyrus. From Thomson, An introduction to Greek and Latin palaeography (1912), p142.

2nd century AD, Greek Uncial on papyrus. From Thomson, An introduction to Greek and Latin palaeography (1912), p142.

It is an understated script. There are very few serifs or extra decorations. Its minimal aesthetic makes this script look very clean and…

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“As long as I live they too will live inside me and battle, positively and fruitfully, giving me strength.” Dialectics (3)

"Maddening, beautiful, magical, horrible, painful, wonderful, joyous thing": Love

“Maddening, beautiful, magical, horrible, painful, wonderful, joyous thing”: Love. And its ‘fruits’? Click for credits and to enlarge

 

Furious Love’s Children

We have talked about two (human) trees dialectically intertwined in furious love.

Will English philosopher (and Sci-Fi writer) Olaf Stapledon from Seacombe possibly shed light on other species’ (or aliens’) love?

Or Hegel ? Or Darwin?
[tough, I know, though tougher than it seems: pls go on reader]

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In the meanwhile we’ll continue with this ‘maddening love’ thing yet from the view-point of its ‘fruits’.

Children.

What happens to the fruits of struggling lovers?

No output here (am I right?) though maddening non the less

No output here (am I right?) though ‘maddening’ none the less. Click for credits

To Anju (Nomad) & to Reema,
Bengali Sisters

We all have (or have had) parents therefore all readers /writers are ‘children’, figli.

Now, my dear Indian bloggers being the first ones to baptize the Man of Roma I hence feel affection to all of them:

[Ashish the GeekWrestler, the first commentator ever of this blog; Poonam Sharma; Ishmeet; Nita J. Kulkarni; Devinder; Amith; Chandrahas; Falcon;  Destination Infinity; Anshul, Usha; Shefali.. the list is not complete damn. It will be]

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Two Bengali sisters are though important here from a certain angle.

Mario: “Don’t get it. Bengali Indians and NOT all Indians?”
Manius:Sir Rabindranath Tagore is Bengali: a genius polymath shedding light, in his sublime way, on harmonious Love, among the rest. Giovanni btw knows only two Bengali bloggers.”

Exactly.

This post is in fact dedicated to Anju and Reema

[whose parents being 'harmonious' were though man and woman, ie different]

Let us start.

Nikos Kazantzakis’
Twin Currents of Blood

nikos kazantzakis

Nikos Kazantzakis, a modern Greek genius. Click for attribution and additional infos

How do children from ‘struggling’ loves react?

In his spiritual autobiography (Report to Greco) Greek Nikos Kazantzakis from Crete (Νίκος Καζαντζάκης, 1883 – 1957) mentions several times this crucial relationship that shaped his life (and work.)

Two quotes.

1. “The influence of this [….] hoax – Kazantzakis writes -, of this delusion (if it is a delusion) that twin currents of blood, Greek from my mother and Arab from my father, run in my veins, has been positive and fruitful, giving me strength, joy and wealth. My struggle to make a synthesis of these two antagonistic impulses has lent purpose and unity to my life.”

2.Both of my parents circulate in my blood, the one fierce, hard, and morose, the other tender, kind, and saintly.

I have carried them all my days; neither has died. As long as I live they too will live inside me and battle in their antithetical ways to govern my thoughts and actions.”

“My lifelong effort is to reconcile them so that one may give me their strength, the other their tenderness to make the discord between them, which breaks out incessantly within me, turn to harmony inside their son’s heart.”

 ψ

Reconcile them … eg the discord which breaks out incessantly turning to harmony. How can one not adore Kazantzakis (also for making dialectics clearer, I hope?)

রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর

Tagore

Sir Rabindranath Tagore, Rabīndranātha Thākura, রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর. Public domain. Click for source. Majestic and sweet

Now, look at this man, at this polymath.

Who is better than him as for harmony, struggle reconciliation – aka σύνθεσις?

[Another help for fathoming Hegelian dialectic, I do hope]

 

Piercing the Darkness of Time

Here come clips related to Tagore and the Bengali culture.

The above clip, found here, is bit westernized and mixes up Tagore‘s poems Unending Love and My Song.

A few more words on Tagore:

“Tagore (রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর) was possibly the greatest writer in modern Indian literature, “Bengali poet, novelist, educator, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Tagore was awarded the knighthood in 1915, but he surrendered it in 1919 as a protest against the Massacre of Amritsar, where British troops killed some 400 Indian demonstrators protesting colonial laws.”

[quote credits]

ψ

 

Still have to write down a note with bibliography etc.

India's emblem

 

Previous installments:

Love Never Did Run Smooth. Dialectics (1)

WTM?!? …. Dialectics (2)

The Old Man and the Water Flowing

An old man in Crete

An old man in a café, Crete, Greece. Click for credits

“I saw an old man kneeling on the stones. He was leaning over a channel, and watching the water run, his face bathed in inexpressible ecstasy. It seemed as though his nose, mouth, and cheeks had vanished; nothing remained but the two eyes which followed the water as it flowed between the rocks. I went up to him.

‘What do you see there, old man ?’ I asked him.

And he, without lifting his head or removing his eyes from the water, replied:

‘My life, my life which is running out…’  “

ψ

[From Report to Greco by Nikos Kazantzakis (translation by P.A. Bien)]

Songs of the Grikos. Oral Greek Love Poems surviving from Magna Graecia (2)

[Enjoy some images from Magna Graecia (basically the Italian coastal South) and listen to some songs in the Griko language]

As promised in the previous post here are some of the oral Greek poems collected on the field from the Griko people – South Italians who still speak Greek.

It is a selection from the book Il tesoro delle parole morte (Argo, 2009, Lecce) by Brizio Montinaro which regards the Griko poetry from Salento, Apulia. Some of these poems were collected by Montinaro himself, whose mother is Griko.

My translation is inadequate and in progress. Any suggestion is welcome. I’ll provide the Greek text of the first poem only.

Mαχάιρι ᾽ναι τὰ μάτια σου,
σπαθιὰ τὰ δυό σου φρύδια
καὶ παὶζουνε με τὴν καρδιὰ
πολλῶ λογιῶ παιχνὶδια.

Knife your eyes
Swords your eyebrows:
They play with the heart
Games of great art.

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That curl so fair
That is bending under your ear
Woven with silk thread,
The most beautiful of your whole head.
Ah had I that curl in my hand!
Out of joy I would fly to heaven’s land.

ψ

Here comes the sun, the moon, the star,
Here comes the maiden who breaks my heart apart.
Here is she who points a knife at me
And chases me away but I cannot but stay.

ψ

Your bosom hides two lemons
That send such a sweet scent.
Give at least one of them to us
To turn over in our hands.
“I hoe, I water, I do not offer lemons.
Go to the gardener, maybe there will be grace.”

ψ

Wherever you go, young man,
May the sun not burn you, and a cloud
May appear in the sky to protect you.

ψ

The wind came
And took away your scarf
And it removed my hat
Uncovering your fair neck.
That night happily I slept.

ψ

ψ

When you see me, as a viper you hide in the bush:
I am he who put your breasts upside down.

ψ

Girl of mine, it was night when we kissed.
By whom were we seen?
By the night, by the dawn, by the star and the moon.
The star bowed and told the sea,
The sea told the oar, the oar told the sailor,
And the sailor sang it at the door of his love.

ψ

I kissed red lips and they dyed my own,
I cleaned them with a cloth
And they dyed the cloth.
I washed the cloth in the river and it dyed the river
Which dyed the beach shore and it dyed the sea floor.
An eagle came down to drink and dyed its wings,
And the sun was half dyed and the moon in the full.

ψ

May I become a swallow and enter your room
And make my nest in your pillow.

ψ

And I wish I were a flea from here
To get like a hawk into your bed,
And nibble all that flesh,
And you’d let down your hand and catch me!

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Martano, one of the Griko towns of Salento. A poem below refers to it. Click for credits

ψ

I sigh and burn,
And my heart drips blood.
But the pain is sweet
When I suffer for you.

ψ

As maiden I loved you, as woman I had you not,
Soon the time will arrive when as widow you’ll be mine.

ψ

Foolish was I to love you!
Like the wind you never stop.
Better had I loved a wall,
It would perhaps have stopped a moment.
Better had I loved a stone,
It would have softened and something I’d have had.
But I have loved you instead, the Galanto,
Who enchanted Martano with his canto.

ψ

I sent you four apples,
One with a bite,
And in the mid of the bite
I placed a kiss.

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