The Little Land of Upmeads

2017-05-28 01:35 am
semyaza: (Medieval feathered helmet)
[personal profile] semyaza
William Morris, The Well at the World's End.

But clear as was the fashion of the mountains, they were yet a long way off: for betwixt them and the ridge whereon those fellows stood, stretched a vast plain, houseless and treeless, and, as they beheld it thence grey and ungrassed (though indeed it was not wholly so) like a huge river or firth of the sea it seemed, and such indeed it had been once, to wit a flood of molten rock in the old days when the earth was a-burning.

Now as they stood and beheld it, the Sage spake: "Lo ye, my children, the castle and its outwork, and its dyke that wardeth the land of the Well at the World's End. Now from to-morrow, when we enter into the great sea of the rock molten in the ancient earth-fires, there is no least peril of pursuit for you. Yet amidst that sea should ye perish belike, were it not for the wisdom gathered by a few; and they are dead now save for the Book, and for me, who read it unto you. Now ye would not turn back were I to bid you, and I will not bid you. Yet since the journey shall be yet with grievous toil and much peril, and shall try the very hearts within you, were ye as wise as Solomon and as mighty as Alexander, I will say this much unto you; that if ye love not the earth and the world with all your souls, and will not strive all ye may to be frank and happy therein, your toil and peril aforesaid shall win you no blessing but a curse. Therefore I bid you be no tyrants or builders of cities for merchants and usurers and warriors and thralls, like the fool who builded Goldburg to be for a tomb to him: or like the thrall-masters of the Burg of the Four Friths, who even now, it may be, are pierced by their own staff or overwhelmed by their own wall. But rather I bid you to live in peace and patience without fear or hatred, and to succour the oppressed and love the lovely, and to be the friends of men, so that when ye are dead at last, men may say of you, they brought down Heaven to the Earth for a little while. What say ye, children?"

Then said Ralph: "Father, I will say the sooth about mine intent, though ye may deem it little-minded. When I have accomplished this quest, I would get me home again to the little land of Upmeads, to see my father and my mother, and to guard its meadows from waste and its houses from fire-raising: to hold war aloof and walk in free fields, and see my children growing up about me, and lie at last beside my fathers in the choir of St. Laurence. The dead would I love and remember; the living would I love and cherish; and Earth shall be the well beloved house of my Fathers, and Heaven the highest hall thereof."

"It is well," said the Sage, "all this shalt thou do and be no little-heart, though thou do no more. And thou, maiden?"

She looked on Ralph and said: "I lost, and then I found, and then I lost again. Maybe I shall find the lost once more. And for the rest, in all that this man will do, I will help, living or dead, for I know naught better to do."

"Again it is well," said the Sage, "and the lost which was verily thine shalt thou find again, and good days and their ending shall betide thee. Ye shall have no shame in your lives and no fear in your deaths. Wherefore now lieth the road free before you."

Bah

2017-05-28 12:49 am
splix: (sherlock oh hell)
[personal profile] splix
TFW the only reason you eat is so you'll have something to throw up.

Welp I said I wasn't going to cancel my vacation/summer plans.... I cancelled all my vacation/summer plans. U2 show, Chicago, Con*Strict....boo.

My hair hasn't fallen out yet. Next week I believe. It's off to Supercuts. I did get my wig from the American Cancer Society assisted by a couple of very nice ladies, both survivors. Only got a wig bc I'm getting my drivers license photo taken in August and don't want to be bald for it. Otherwise plan to rock the punk look. The wig, btw, is very Mary Tyler Moore 70s era. Shoulder length. Pics when I'm actually bald.

Anyhow what else. Nausea, bone pain, fatigue, digestive nightmares...and it's only my first round. Yay. I've lost eight pounds already. I can afford to lose another, say, sixty, before the state of my body gets really alarming. Last time I lost about 150 and it more or less stayed off. Another 100 and I'm going to be a disgusting sack of loose skin covering bone. And it's only been two weeks since diagnosis. I'd say bring on the ice cream and butter but food is grossing me out so much. :-/

I got really really salty on Facebook with someone who told me that I had to visualize the outcome I wanted re. my health. I said that if the cancer killed me I hoped it wasn't bc I wasn't visualizing properly. Pretty much done with gladly suffering fools thanks very much. I don't care how well intentioned that was, it was an asshole thing to say.

Safe to say I'm a wee bit salty still.

Pardon the choppiness I'm in bed on my iPod. Hope you're all well.

Doctor Who 10.07

2017-05-28 08:22 am
selenak: (Brig and Tardis by Ellisbelle)
[personal profile] selenak
This was the first Doctor Who episode since "The Caretaker" I disliked thoroughly, albeit for different reasons.

Read more... )

(no subject)

2017-05-27 08:30 pm
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[personal profile] nowhere posting in [community profile] fandom_icons
105 | wonder woman


105 icons @ [community profile] insomniatic.
[syndicated profile] 2nerdyhistorygirls_feed

Posted by Susan Holloway Scott

Breakfast Links are served - our weekly round-up of fav links to other web sites, articles, blogs, and images via Twitter.
• The education of women: in 1735, this article argued that women were more "adapted" for learning than men.
Brown Bess: musket or mistress?
George Washington's presidential desk, now inside NYC's city hall.
• For fans of Marie-Antoinette: twenty-five essential travel destinations.
Image: Delightful piggy rattle from Cyprus, C3rdBC.
• What "colonial kitchens" say about America.
Mary Anning, the "greatest fossilist the world ever knew," born this week in 1799.
• The ultimate list of wonderfully specific museums.
Image: Notable telegram from Eleanor Roosevelt to Gypsy Rose Lee, 1959.
• "Would you mind imprisoning my wife?": infamous letters from the archives of the Bastille.
• The startlingly modern photographs of 19thc pioneers David Hill and Robert Adamson.
• A brief history of hearing aids.
• Defying convention and marrying for love in the 15thc: Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Duchess of Bedford and Countess Rivers.
Image: Martha Washington's 1797 response to Abigail Adams' request for advice on being First Lady.
• The ten best paintings of lace.
• The Leicester Square panorama, opened in May, 1793, gave Londoners their first taste of virtual reality.
• Beautiful miniature books worth straining your eyesight to see.
• Exploring the long-gone streets of old London.
• From high style architecture to the humblest of houses: surveying America's built environment.
• A walking tour of 1767 New York City, using 18thc maps.
• A documented interracial marriage in Georgian England.
• Not history, but we these librarians are true warriors in their neighborhood.
Hungry for more? Follow us on Twitter @2nerdyhistgirls for fresh updates daily.
Above: At Breakfast by Laurits Andersen Ring. Private collection

There's hope...

2017-05-27 10:20 pm
openidwouldwork: (elder sign)
[personal profile] openidwouldwork


*smiles* and *is happy*

Fic: Duck

2017-05-27 10:27 pm
afra_schatz: (Default)
[personal profile] afra_schatz
First of, [personal profile] noalinnea posted another bit of hilarity which you all need to read (and feel Orlando's pain).

Secondly:

May, 27th – Duck )

[ SECRET POST #3797 ]

2017-05-27 03:47 pm
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[personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets

⌈ Secret Post #3797 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.

01.


More! )


Notes:

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[ SECRET SUBMISSIONS POST #545 ]




The first secret from this batch will be posted on July 3rd.



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[syndicated profile] historian_movies_feed

Posted by aelarsen

More stupid crap in Empire:

Unknown.jpeg

No, the punishment for treason by a Vestal was not being buried up to the neck and then stoned. The Vestals were untouchable except for the severe offense of fornication. The punishment for that was being buried alive with a jug of water and a loaf of bread. The purpose of that was no specific person was responsible for the Vestal’s death, because that would have outraged the gods. Touching them, even to punish them, was unacceptable because it was seen as impinging on their chastity. Since their chastity was understood as vital to the health of the Roman state, the idea of punishing them in any way that involved physical contact was unacceptable.

No, Italy did not have a massive gladiator school somewhere in Mordor where Tyrannus (Jonathan Cake), Octavius (Santiago Cabrera), and Senator Magonius (Dennis Haysbert) could be thrown after they are captured, only to fight their way out of. Gladiators were valuable property and were not forced to live like wild animals in a mine.

No, it did not take an enormous crisis for the Senate to have the authority to appoint a new Pontifex Maximus and no, Brutus was not appointed as said Pontifex Maximus so that he could forcibly take Camane from the Temple of Vesta. The college of pontiffs elected the Pontifex Maximus from their own number, and after Caesar’s assassination, the office went to Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, who became an ally of Antony and Octavian.

No, Romans did not use medieval broadswords, even during gladiatorial training. Nor did they use medieval flails for gladiatorial training.

No, Romans did not say ‘Hail, Caesar!” during his lifetime. The phrase is a common modern misquote of the phrase “Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant” (“Hail, emperor, those who are about to die salute you.” The only recorded use of the phrase dates to 52 AD when a group of fighters in a fake naval battle (technically these were not gladiators at all, but naumachiarii) greeted Claudius with the salutation. While widely known and misquoted today, there is literally no reason to think the phrase was customarily used by gladiators or anyone else.

No, ‘Caesar’ was not a title in this period. It was just a cognomen, which Octavian acquired as soon as he was adopted. When Cassius shouts “you’ll never be Caesar,” it’s like someone telling me “you’ll never be Larsen.” But then, we already know that movies and tv shows never get Roman names right.

No, Cicero (Michael Byrne) was not a supporter of Caesar and Octavius and an opponent of Brutus and Cassius. It was pretty much the opposite. He was politically opposed to Caesar, and Mark Antony (Vincent Regan) was a personal enemy of his. He was something of an ally of Brutus and praise Caesar’s assassination. He did to some extent befriend Octavius, but mostly as a way to play him off against Antony, and in the period 44-43 BC, produced a series of 14 Phillipic Orations against Antony.

imperiya-1

Vincent Regan as Mark Antony

No, Mark Antony did not have a beloved dog named Sulla. How do I know this? Because Sulla was one of the optimates, the pro-Senatorial, anti-crowd factions in Roman politics, while Mark Antony was one of the populares, the pro-Tribune, anti-aristocratic elite faction (I’m oversimplifying, because many of the populares  were themselves aristocrats and senators). So naming his dog after one of the arch-optimates of the previous generation would be like Hillary Clinton naming her beloved dog Nixon. Nor is it likely that he would joke about his wife being his ‘commanding officer’, because submission to women was seen as a sign that a man was unfit to rule.

No, there were not people called ‘master assassins’ in ancient Rome. The whole concept of being a master at an occupation is a fundamentally medieval concept, only beginning to emerge in the 12th century with the guild system. The concept of people who were trained as assassins only emerged around the 12th century in the Middle East when the Ismaili section of Shia Islam was established, and even these people weren’t ‘professional’ assassins, but rather religious fanatics who went on suicide missions. And whatever assassins existed in ancient Rome sure as hell weren’t magical beast-masters who could see what their falcons saw and shape-change into wolves. This is supposed to be actual history, remember?

No, orgies were not regular features of Roman parties. While Romans had somewhat more lax rules about where and when and with whom sexual activity was acceptable than more Americans do, they regarded unrestrained sex parties with disapproval and suspicion as something likely to erode the morality of Rome and as potentially politically subversive. Simply a rumor about such activity was enough to get the cult of Bacchus banned in Italy in 188 BC. Stories about Roman emperors such as Tiberius and Caligula throwing debauched parties were told to demonstrate the emperor’s unsuitability to rule and may well simply be slanderous inventions. Even if these stories are true, later Roman historians report them disapprovingly, demonstrating that even a century after this period, Roman culture considered sex parties disreputable.

No, there was no mass murder of Caesar’s supporters using asps and wolves during an orgy in Rome. It certainly wouldn’t have been engineered by Mark Antony, because he would have been killing off his own supporters and allies.

And no, the screenwriters of this horrid piece of dreck should not have been allowed to write a mini-series about a historical period they clearly cared nothing about.

Want to Know More?
Go take a walk instead. It’s nice out. The exercise will do you good.


sunnymodffa: (Snidely Whiplash)
[personal profile] sunnymodffa posting in [community profile] fail_fandomanon
 
What kind of cretinous, shrieking worm designs a kitchen where you can't open the oven door all the way, but includes a walk-in closet?? And how are they getting SO MUCH WORK?

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cimorene: (gr arg)
[personal profile] cimorene
So, when you print a pricetag at the Red Cross thrift store where I work, you have to navigate a hierarchical tree using arrows and Enter. An example would be "Apparel>Women's Clothing>Undergarments" or "Apparel>Accessories>Children's". Now the department is in the barcode, and the store/chain know what was sold, how long it was on the shelf first, what it cost, etc, and they use this to produce statistics.

And as a result of this, the cash registers can be programmed to automatically discount a whole department, like Women's Clothing or Furniture or Sport, all at once. This is useful for promotions like "ALL CLOTHING -50% THIS WEEK ONLY" - nothing for the cashier to do. (In contrast, with something like Buy Two X, Get the Cheaper ½ Off, the cashier has to check which it is and click 'Discount'.)

Well, this week, my department, Accessories, is on sale. The problem is, my department doesn't have a department in the store like the others. Socks, undergarments, and pajamas are in their respective clothing departments. Hats are there and also in sports. Scarves are in 4 different displays. Jewelry, wallets and sunglasses are in 3 displays unless they're designer or for special occasions. Swimsuits everyone just forgets about until the season. And most of the cashiers can't pass a test on whether all these items are part of the Accessories department or not.

Unfortunately, they need to know, because some (undergarments and swimwear) are officially categorized as clothing instead on the tag according to edicts from the chain level. So these have to be individually discounted anyway (and why not just leave them off the sale? Nobody asked me, that's why). BONUS: we just discovered my coworker in Accessories has been mistagging everything, up to and including jewelry, as clothing.

So that's hundreds of mistagged tiny items scattered throughout the store for the cashiers to (a) identify as accessories and (b) remember to check to make sure the discount rings up and individually discount it if not. Being a cashier here doesn't have any educational or experience prereqs, but it certainly requires certain abilities.

For bonus stress, I'm a cashier as well, and all week when I was at the register it meant I wasn't putting out stuff for the sale.

Children's stories

2017-05-27 10:36 am
watervole: (Default)
[personal profile] watervole
 Favourite Oswin (age 3) moment this week.

Picking up a book of wild flowers and sitting down to read it (she loves flowers of every kind), we heard her 'reading' aloud:
"Once upon a time, there was a bluebell..."
mirabile: (My beating heart)
[personal profile] mirabile
I have been saving so many links, so here they are. Lots of sad and/or upsetting stuff, but that's the fucking world we live in.

Everybody has heard about the devastating explosion in Manchester at the Ariana Grande concert. What miserable fucker targets children? Jesus. Anyway, Ariana Grande was new to me but this touching essay explained who she is and why so many children were at the concert: Manchester's heartbreak: 'I never grasped what big pop gigs were for until I saw one through my daughter's eyes': Music aimed at teenage girls is derided but the likes of Ariana Grande provide the kind of empowering, transcendent experience that terrorists hate. Written by a dad.

I'm equally sure that everyone has read The Atlantic's essay "My Family's Slave," which left me puzzled and disturbed. I found this article helpful: It Is Really Important to Humanize Evil. Normal people -- people who otherwise have no signs of derangement or a lack of a grip on basic human moral principles -- do evil stuff all the time.

Fivethirtyeight has an excellent graphic about mortality rates in the United States. Really shocking differences among different counties, and don't neglect the drop-down box so you can select specific causes of death. Also click the word "play" to see how mortality rates have changed since 1980.

I had never heard of the journal Evonomics before, but somehow I bumped into this essay, The Future of Work, Robotization, and Capitalism's Ability to Generate Useless Jobs. This is something I actually think about, no doubt due to reading so much Kim Stanley Robinson, but what will people do when robots and computers can do most of the work? I firmly believe that if a computer can do a job, it should do the job -- but where does that leave people? That's one of the biggest taboos of our times. Our whole system of finding meaning could dissolve like a puff of smoke.

I blame Nigel Farage for a lot of bad shit. Read him shoot himself in the foot: They Will Always Hate Me: Nigel Farage loves giving interviews. But if you ask him about his connections to Russia and about the consequences of Brexit, he'll put a stop to the conversation. Fucker.

I think this is an important discussion -- nominally it's a review of three books but it's a lot more than that: 'Bullshit is a greater enemy than lies' -- lessons from three new books on the post-truth era. I have the book On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt, and it is absolutely a must-read. Every library must own a copy by now, so go read it. I haven't read the other books discussed in the article, but they sound pretty good, too. [The bullshitter] does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of truth than lies are. You can't say that often enough: BULLSHIT IS A GREATER ENEMY OF TRUTH THAN LIES ARE.

A wonderful speech by the mayor of New Orleans about why they are removing the old Confederate monuments in the city. We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Librarians are awesome.

And Then There Were N-One, a short story by Sarah Pinsker that I really enjoyed. Science fiction. Cool.

That's a good place to end, I think. Here in the States it's Memorial Day weekend. It used to be called Decoration Day, which Wikipedia (an interesting read) says originated in the American Civil War. For me, it has another significance: on that day this year, Webster and I celebrate our 37th anniversary.

[ SECRET POST #3796 ]

2017-05-26 06:23 pm
case: (Default)
[personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets

⌈ Secret Post #3796 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.

01.


More! )


Notes:

Secrets Left to Post: 00 pages, 00 secrets from Secret Submission Post #543.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.
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[personal profile] usernamehere posting in [community profile] followfriday
 
  Got any Follow Friday-related posts to share this week? Comment here with the link(s).
Here's the plan: every Friday, let's recommend some people and/or communities to follow on Dreamwidth. That's it. No complicated rules, no "pass this on to 7.328 friends or your cat will die". Just introduce us to some new things to read.

Hidden Passages

2017-05-26 10:52 am
calliopes_pen: (sallymn dark and stormy story)
[personal profile] calliopes_pen posting in [site community profile] dw_community_promo
[community profile] hidden_passages: Hidden Passages is a new community dedicated to gothic horror and gothic romance works in film, television, and literature across history.
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Flashback Friday. 

Responding to critics who argue that poor people do not choose to eat healthy food because they’re ignorant or prefer unhealthy food, dietitian Ellyn Satter wrote a hierarchy of food needs. Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it illustrates Satter’s ideas as to the elements of food that matter first, second, and so on… starting at the bottom.

The graphic suggests that getting enough food to eat is the most important thing to people. Having food be acceptable (e.g., not rotten, something you are not allergic to) comes second. Once those two things are in place, people hope for reliable access to food and only then do they begin to worry about taste. If people have enough, acceptable, reliable, good-tasting food, then they seek out novel food experiences and begin to make choices as to what to eat for instrumental purposes (e.g., number of calories, nutritional balance).

As Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist writes, sometimes when a person chooses to eat nutritionally deficient or fattening foods, it is not because they are “stupid, ignorant, lazy, or just a bad, bad person who loves bad, bad food.”  Sometimes, it’s “because other needs come first.”

Originally posted in 2010; hat tip to Racialicious; cross-posted at Jezebel.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

(no subject)

2017-05-26 07:45 am
baranduin: (Heart tree from primula_baggins)
[personal profile] baranduin
Harry tells me it's [personal profile] addie71's birthday today and sends his best purrs and tummy displays. I hope you have a great day :-)

OMG

2017-05-26 01:48 pm
afra_schatz: (Default)
[personal profile] afra_schatz
Okay, you all need to drop what you are doing right now and go to [personal profile] noalinnea's DW and read this which is possibly even BETTER than the thing she wrote yesterday (okay, okay, I am biased because this one also has Orlando in it and I love him and his disapproval with all my heart). So, in case you were wondering what Eric and Viggo were doing yesterday while Sean and Orlando got their heart broken and mended again by Emmerdale, you should go and read this NOOOW. It's so good. <<<33

It's a birthday...

2017-05-26 06:33 am
claudia603: (Default)
[personal profile] claudia603

Happy Birthday to the marvelously lovely [livejournal.com profile] addie71!!!



hqdefault

I hope you are well taken care of today by your family and you have as sweet a day as you!!

♥ ♥ ♥
sunnymodffa: (Victorian raptor)
[personal profile] sunnymodffa posting in [community profile] fail_fandomanon
 
I feel like this is something I should ask Dr. Chuck Tingle. I bet he'd know.

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[syndicated profile] 2nerdyhistorygirls_feed

Posted by Susan Holloway Scott


Susan reporting,

It's hard to believe that Ken Burns's monumental documentary, "The Civil War", is now nearly thirty years old. Debuting in 1990, it captured the tragedy of the American Civil War with words, music, and images that many of us still haven't forgotten.

This is one of the most memorable segments: the final letter that Major Sullivan Ballou wrote home to his wife Sarah. Ballou served with the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry, and like many of the war's soldiers on both sides, he'd left behind not only a wife and sons, but also a prospering career. He had been a respected lawyer and was House Speaker in the Rhode Island legislature when he enlisted to defend his country and his beliefs. This letter was never mailed, but was found in his belongings after he died from injuries after the First Battle of Bull Run in July, 1861. Ballou was 32 at the time of his death; Sarah was only 24, and never remarried. His words to her are eloquent and achingly beautiful, and so full of love that it hurts.

This weekend we mark Memorial Day in the United States. I hope that, in the middle of the picnics, sales, and pool openings for the holiday weekend, you'll pause for a moment and think of Major Ballou and all the other soldiers, from every war, who have made such sacrifices for us. More than ever, it's a message we need to remember, especially in an era where the world seems more unsure by the day.

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[ SECRET POST #3795 ]

2017-05-25 08:44 pm
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⌈ Secret Post #3795 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.

01.


More! )


Notes:

Secrets Left to Post: 01 pages, 10 secrets from Secret Submission Post #543.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.

(no subject)

2017-05-25 08:44 pm
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Harry/Ginny Daily has moved to dreamwidth! Join us @ [community profile] hgdaily  for your weekly (mostly) dose of Harry/Ginny fics, art, recs  & news :)

Fic: Psychologist

2017-05-26 12:53 am
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[personal profile] afra_schatz
I won't even pretend that this isn't extremely autobiographical :). Fyi, I am both Sean and Orlando in this scenario, and Philipp Haydock is everyone around me. It's not my fault.

May, 25th – Psychologist )

Star Wars icons

2017-05-25 05:27 pm
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here @ [community profile] swannee
(The Force Awakens, Rogue One)
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"NEEGATIVE FIVE STARS. What a terrible recipe! I was out of flour but
didn't want to go to the store so I substituted a cup of plaster and a cup of gravel, spray margarine for the cultured butter, and stevia drops for the sugar, and then fried the batter in bacon grease instead of baking it. And I didn't give it the 24 hour rest recommended in the recipe because I'm impatient. The results are INEDIBLE and clearly you CANNOT COOK and should DELETE YOUR BLOG."


Context is tired of stupid recipe reviews.

Empire: Caesar’s Will

2017-05-25 07:04 pm
[syndicated profile] historian_movies_feed

Posted by aelarsen

Empire  is quite possibly the worst thing I’ve ever watched on ancient Rome. I’ve gotten freshman term papers on ancient Rome that were way more interested in the facts than this piece of crap is. But I’m getting paid to review it, so I need to do another post on it. Please bear with me.

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The plot of the series turns on the question of who Caesar’s heir will be. At the start of the series, Caesar (Colm Fiore) is correctly positioned as the dominant man in Rome, although it’s not explained how or why he got there, except that the crowds of Rome love him. Early on, Brutus (James Frain) and Cassius (Michael Maloney) comment that Caesar wants to be both king and god, statements that are fairly accurate for 44 BC. When Caesar is assassinated in the Senate chamber, he tells Tyrannus (Jonathan Cake) that his heir is going to be Octavius (Santiago Cabrera), not Mark Antony (Vincent Regan). This comes as a surprise to everyone, including Octavius, who was under the impression that Caesar despised him. Brutus and Cassius are desperately trying to get Caesar’s will so they can quash this, while Cicero (Michael Byrne) and Camane (an utterly wasted Emily Blunt) are doing everything they can to disseminate the will so that everyone in Rome will know the truth, so that the Senate will have to…make Octavius king maybe? Something like that. I’m not sure the series knows, but who cares? It’s only the main plot of the whole goddam thing.

The reality is, surprise surprise, different. Julius Caesar had no surviving children, despite three marriages, but his sister Julia did have a grandson, Octavius, who was the logical person to make his heir. So late in 45, Caesar wrote a will that adopted Octavius and bequeathing him about 75% of Caesar’s considerable fortune. The will would have been given to the Vestal Virgins, who were responsible for keeping wills, and would not have been publicly announced until after Caesar’s death. It is not known if Caesar told Octavius about the contents of his will, but it seems to me highly unlikely that the will would have been a surprise to Octavius; he was the obvious choice of heir being Caesar’s closest male relative, he was a canny and astute politician (as his entire political career demonstrated) who must have known what his position in Roman society was, and Caesar was smart enough to have recognized that he would have to groom Octavius as his successor (although he certainly didn’t foresee getting murdered just a half-year after making his will). Additionally, as soon as news of the assassination reached Octavius, who was in Apollonia on the west coast of Macedonia at the time, he immediately began to act like Caesar’s heir, ordering that Caesar’s war-chest be sent to him in Apollonia. If he was unaware of his status as heir, it’s improbable that he would have done this.

However, the series’ assumption that Octavius found his designation as heir a surprise is not an entirely outrageous one, because we have no formal evidence that he was told about it before Caesar’s murder. So I’ll reluctantly give the series a pass on this one.

(A short aside about names is necessary here. When he was born, he was given the name Gaius Octavius, since his father was from the Octavian gens. Upon his adoption, he legally became Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, the ‘an’ element signifying that he had been adopted out of the Octavian gens. After he achieved complete domination of the Roman political world in 27 BC, he was given the agnomen Augustus, which he consistently used down to the end of his life. There is no evidence that he ever actually styled himself Octavianus (although some of his opponents did). He preferred to refer to himself as Caesar and later Augustus Caesar, using the formal ‘Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus’. However the universal modern historical convention is to call him Octavian (the anglicization of his name) for the period between 44 and 27 BC and then Augustus thereafter. Since his adoption was posthumous, the series is technically correct to call him Octavius, even though pretty much no one today ever uses his birth name unless they’re being super-precise.)

Unknown.jpeg

Octavian, being posthumously appalled by this series

 

According to Roman law, a posthumous adoption only applied to inheritance of property. Caesar had no legal way to pass on any of his formal political power or office, any more than John Kennedy could have bequeathed his presidency to one of his children, since in the Republic, all political offices were subject to public election and were not personal property. So what Octavian was technically inheriting was his adoptive father’s wealth and his name (since posthumous adoption typically required the adoptee to accept the adopter’s name). Informally, Octavian was inheriting the enormous goodwill the Roman crowd had for Caesar as well as the prestige of now belonging to perhaps the oldest and most glorious of all Roman gens. Since the anger of the crowd pushed the Senate to immediately declare the dead Caesar a god (something that Caesar seems to have been angling for already in the last year of his life), Octavian also acquired the huge and unprecedented clout of being able to style himself Divi Filius, ‘son of the god [Julius]’. In order to achieve his father’s political power, however, he was going to have use that inherited wealth, prestige, and goodwill to fight his way up to political power, especially because Mark Antony was the clear successor to Caesar’s military authority, since he was essentially Caesar’s lieutenant and an experienced soldier, while Octavian had no military experience to speak of, being only 18.

Whether his adoption surprised him or not, Octavian immediately moved to capitalize on the opportunity the adoption provided. As noted, he took charge of Caesar’s war-chest, sailed to Naples, and traveled north to Rome, collecting political support and a modest army along the way. He demonstrated a solid understanding of Roman politics, contacting key political figures for their support; he decision to land at Naples allowed him to meet up with Cornelius Balbus, one of Caesar’s most important supporters. At no point did he ever betray any sense that he was doing anything other than acting on his full legal rights as Caesar’s heir.

In Empire, however, Octavius is a cloth-headed idiot. When Tyrannus tells him that Caesar has named him his heir, Octavius initially refuses to believe it, and refuses to leave Caesar’s villa outside Rome until his mother warns him that he’s in a butt-load of danger and Tyrannus can protect him. Tyrannus insists on fleeing Rome entirely with no money or guards or anything else. The next morning, however, Octavius wakes up before Tyrannus, and rides back to Rome to see his girlfriend, some skank whose father is a senator but who immediately betrays him to the gladiator/soldiers who are looking for him. He gets chased, Tyrannus rescues him by magically knowing where he is, and Cicero gives them a list of supporters to track down. Then they ride out of Rome again. All of this is a real disservice to Octavian, who ranks among the savviest politicians in the history of the world.

images.jpeg

Octavius and Camane, wishing they weren’t in this series

 

Brutus and Cassius, meanwhile, are torturing Octavius’ mother for the will, intimidating Cicero, and threatening the Vestal Virgins. They are having trouble with the crowd, which catches them trying to smuggle Caesar’s corpse out of the city, and seizes the corpse and burns it, which outrages Octavius even though it’s basically the way elite Roman funerals worked. Camane orchestrates a plan to produce dozens of copies of Caesar’s will and nail them up all around the city so everyone will know that Brutus and Cassius are dicks. They respond by lighting Rome on fire, which seems like something of an over-reaction, given that if the city is destroyed, there isn’t much of a Roman state for them to govern. Then they send an assassin after Octavius, but Tyrannus spots him because apparently in ancient Rome only assassins carry gladiator swords that are actually late medieval short-swords.

Then Octavius and Tyrannus run off to visit Senator Magonius (Dennis Haysbert), a black man who has a northern Celtic name at a time when senators were only drawn from Italy. Magonius refuses to give the gladiator/soldiers his legion (despite the fact that legions were only given to sitting or just-stepped down consuls at the authorization of the Senate). So, despite the legion Magonius owns, the gladiator/soldiers decide to make him a slave because in times of political unrest, historical accuracy is always the first casualty.

MV5BMWY4MmRiNGMtM2Q5Yy00NDQxLWIwNjMtYWZhMDc2MWM0NDQyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQxMTIxMTk@._V1_SY1000_SX1250_AL_

Brutus and Cassius with some woman who might be Servilla

 

Oh, and evidently because apostrophes haven’t been invented yet, the subtitles telling us where things happen never use apostrophes. So scenes take place at ‘Julius Caesar Villa’ and ‘Vestal Copy Room’.

You can do this, Andrew. You’re getting paid for this.

Want to Know More?

Well, if you insist, you can find Empire on Amazon.

There are lots of biographies of Augustus. The one I have on my shelf is Pat Southern’s Augustus.



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[community profile] shadowhunterstv: A fan community to share fanwork (graphics,fan fics,discussions etc) for Freeform's Shadowhuntes: The Mortal Instrument TV series.
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From [community profile] punning's profile:

Puns and wordplay welcome, the worse the better. Long, short, contorted, obscure, whatever. Filthy OK, but must use cuts and some kind of content warning. Likewise triggery. Visual puns OK, but must have description in an alt= tag. Likewise, recorded audio or video puns need a transcript of some kind. (I'm not deaf or blind, so leaving the specifics open, but if you don't know what's needed, be prepared to take those who do at their word, and accept contributions if offered.)

Clean or filthy, puns will likely break your brain over time and cause copious amounts of pain. If you can't live with that, you probably shouldn't be reading this comm.

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