cloudy symbols of a high romance

crave the knife that cut me :: a catullus/clodia fanmix (x)
"but the wound still bleeds, and I still crave the knife that cut me" (Steven Saylor, The Venus Throw)
lady gaga - beautiful, dirty, richwe do the dance right, we have got it madelike ice-cream topped with honeybut we got no moneydaddy I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry yeah, we just like to party, like to party yeahbang bang, we’re beautiful and dirty richbang bang, we’re beautiful and dirty richbat for lashes - laurayou say that you’re stuck in a pale blue dreamand your tears feel hot on my bedsheetsdrape your arms around me and softly saycan we dance upon the tables againyou’re the train that crashed my heartyou’re the glitter in the darkooh laura, you’re more than a superstaryou’ll be famous for longer than themyour name is tattooed on every boy’s skinooh laura, you’re more than a superstaremmy the great - paper forest (in the afterglow of rapture)it’s like these days i have to write down almost every thought i’ve heldso scared i am becoming of forgetting how it feltand these fears they will unravel me one daybut still i am afraidlaura marling - little love caster i wish that i had, i wish that i had’ve told you thenwhere my kindness endsi will take you home, i will take you home and thenour lovespell will endyou are new to meyou are new to meand i can’t seem to say"i’d like you to stay"adele - melt my heart to stoneeach and every time i turn around to leavei feel my heart begin to burst and bleedso desperately i try to link it with my headbut instead i fall back to my kneesas you tear your way right through mei forgive you once againwithout me knowingyou’ve burnt my heart to stoneand i hear your words that i made upyou say my name like there could be an usi best tidy up my head i’m the only one in lovei’m the only one in lovethe national - anyone’s ghostsay you stayed at homealone with the flufind out from friendsthat wasn’t truego out at night with your headphones on, againand walk through the manhattan valleys of the deaddidn’t want to be your ghostdidn’t want to be anyone’s ghostdidn’t want to be your ghostdidn’t want to be anyone’s ghostbut i don’t want anybody elsei don’t want anybody else

crave the knife that cut me :: a catullus/clodia fanmix (x)

"but the wound still bleeds, and I still crave the knife that cut me" (Steven Saylor, The Venus Throw)

lady gaga - beautiful, dirty, rich
we do the dance right, we have got it made
like ice-cream topped with honey
but we got no money
daddy I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry yeah,
we just like to party, like to party yeah
bang bang, we’re beautiful and dirty rich
bang bang, we’re beautiful and dirty rich

bat for lashes - laura
you say that you’re stuck in a pale blue dream
and your tears feel hot on my bedsheets
drape your arms around me and softly say
can we dance upon the tables again
you’re the train that crashed my heart
you’re the glitter in the dark
ooh laura, you’re more than a superstar
you’ll be famous for longer than them
your name is tattooed on every boy’s skin
ooh laura, you’re more than a superstar

emmy the great - paper forest (in the afterglow of rapture)
it’s like these days i have to write down almost every thought i’ve held
so scared i am becoming of forgetting how it felt
and these fears they will unravel me one day
but still i am afraid

laura marling - little love caster
i wish that i had, i wish that i had’ve told you then
where my kindness ends
i will take you home, i will take you home and then
our lovespell will end
you are new to me
you are new to me
and i can’t seem to say
"i’d like you to stay"

adele - melt my heart to stone
each and every time i turn around to leave
i feel my heart begin to burst and bleed
so desperately i try to link it with my head
but instead i fall back to my knees
as you tear your way right through me
i forgive you once again
without me knowing
you’ve burnt my heart to stone
and i hear your words that i made up
you say my name like there could be an us
i best tidy up my head i’m the only one in love
i’m the only one in love

the national - anyone’s ghost
say you stayed at home
alone with the flu
find out from friends
that wasn’t true
go out at night with your headphones on, again
and walk through the manhattan valleys of the dead
didn’t want to be your ghost
didn’t want to be anyone’s ghost
didn’t want to be your ghost
didn’t want to be anyone’s ghost
but i don’t want anybody else
i don’t want anybody else

by purple death I’m seized and fate supreme

I knew Gore Vidal’s ‘Julian’ would be sad, but I never realised it would be so heartbreaking.

Part of it is just how much I loved his Julian - this naive, heartfelt, talkative, romantic, exuberant, bookish, thoughtful, energetic dork. His relationship with Helena was especially fascinating, because so often arranged marriages in fiction are polarised into either working well or really, really not, and here……they clearly didn’t love each other, and would never have chosen each other normally, and yet there were moments where you could see a potential for at least partnership, and maybe even friendship, between them.  I was particularly touched by her wishing they had been closer in age, and by her death scene, where Julian tells Oribasius he doesn’t know how to feel.  (though I feel like there’s something of sublimated grief in its being followed by his dedicating his chastity to Cybele, and maybe even the moment where he thinks that Faustina is the Princess, not the Augusta.  I did really like how the death of his first child was handled, because Robert Browning in his biography of Julian makes a point of how cold his lack of reaction is, whereas here it’s acknowledged that he learned of the child’s existence and its death in pretty much the same moment, making it harder to sincerely grieve.  Plus I feel like there’s something very deliberate and pointed in his focusing on the troops marching in Pyrrhic measure, a careful non-reaction when normally he says and feels so much about everything.) 

He’s made more lovable by just how much those people who get him care for him — I found Priscus difficult to like throughout much of the book (mostly due to his cynicism and misogyny), much as some of his bitchy asides were absolute gold, yet I was moved by his berating himself for having been unable to express his affection at Julian’s deathbed and talking about Plato instead.  It was Libanius who truly broke me, though - the part where he says he was enchanted by Julian, and all of the ending, especially the sincerity of his letter to Theodosius and his encounter with John Chrysostom, where Chrysostom says he saw Julian in the Forum of Antioch leaving for Persia, and Julian smiled at him and he thought this man is a saint, why do we hate him? and Libanius starts weeping.

What I like best, though, is how gently and sincerely it handles Julian’s beliefs, with a depth you wouldn’t see in many historical novels nowadays.  He’s not a prig or a fanatic.  There is something unutterably beautiful about the classical pantheon - I feel the pull even reading the poetry of that time, and how much more would you feel it being steeped in philosophy, knowing that it informed everything you love, knowing how close by it was, and being able to sense some sort of falling away from the heights of Roman culture to now; some indefinable, inexplicable decline?  I’ve always judged his attempt to restore paganism as ‘tragically misguided’, and now I feel embarrassed at coming to such a snap conclusion (even though I don’t think Christianity had anything to do with the fall of Rome).

(also the Eleusinian mysteries.  I’ve only ever read about what exactly they entailed, so far as we know, in one other book - it was a terrible mystery novel set in ancient Greece - and somehow it’s stayed with me, somehow it feels meaningful.)

However what I think Christianity has to offer, on the other hand, is forgiveness and charity.  While I don’t know very much about what classical philosophy has to say on how to lead a good life, Roman society in the late Republic/early Empire was dog-eat-dog, and surely there was something wonderfully radical in saying blessed are the meek, the persecuted, the merciful, the reviled; that strongest isn’t always best.  In the book the Christians Julian sees are all very worldly, dedicated to the letter rather than the spirit of the law, and it’s easy to see how for him it’s just another part of the oppressive machinery of the court, and why he insists that Hellenic priests must lead a pure life.  But thinking objectively about why he failed, you have to wonder exactly what the appeal of Christianity was.

Finally, the last section of the book was painful - it’s always difficult to read novels about someone you’ve come to love, knowing when they will die and watching the clock inevitably tick down.  I was caught between wanting to stop and wanting to read faster so it would be over with. (and oh, he died in Persia at age 32, leaving his succession to the best, just like Alexander.  I keep a biography of Alexander at my bedside; it is finished with living it.  I’m also reading Robin Lane Fox’s book about Alexander at the moment, and much as I knew that all Romans heading east invoked him, cf. Pompey, I hadn’t realised the eerie synergy.)

I think for me it would be four stars rather than five, just because there were moments where I found myself sliding off it, and reading without really taking in, but what a beautiful, rich book.  Are there any good non-fiction treatments of Julian?  I think I might go with Adrian Murdoch’s The Last Pagan, but do let me know if there are any others I should be reading. (would love Shaun Tougher’s, but it’s a bit expensive; ditto Julian’s Gods, which looks fab; and apparently Bowersock has really got it in for him.  Browning I’ve already mentioned - from a skim it seems elegant but I don’t think he’s a fan.)

And finally, where in the Iliad does my title come from?  My copy is on Kindle so I can’t flick, and googling only turns up Julian’s quoting it.

Some False Historic Myths

golden-cages:

Okay, so I thought it was about time to gather some of the most believed myths and rumours about historical people that are simply not true. Here we go:

Marie Antoinette never said “Let them eat cake!”. The phrase was first published in the memoirs of Jean-Jacques Rousseau which was written in 1765 when Marie Antoinette was 10 years old and still in Vienna.

Anne Boleyn did not have a sixth finger. After her execution it became widespread to further “shame” the late Queen and at the time a sixth finger was considered a sign of witchcraft which was just among the charges laid to her. It has been suggested that she had an extra fingernail but a King would never have married her with such an obvious mutation.

Cleopatra did not have a vibrator run by trapped bees. Like Anne Boleyn this was a rumour spread to demean the Egyptian Pharaoh and underline the rumours that she was promiscuous - which she was not either.

Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia did not have an incestuous affair. At the time incest was not merely considered wrong but a death sin and the rumour happened to circle when the Borgias was at the height of their power - it was nothing else but a way to demean and spread a sense of sin and disgust of the family.

Christopher Columbus was not the first European to discover America. The Vikings had reached American soil 500 years before Columbus ever set sails and were therefore the first Europeans to reach the new continent - of course the native Americans were already there. Leif Eriksson is the man remembered for several Viking expeditions to America and not that long ago Viking jewels and tools were found in the USA, conclusively proving that Columbus was not the man who discovered America.

Napoleon Bonaparte was not a short man. Actually, he was the average height of a French man of his time which - granted - is not considered tall today but nothing out of the ordinary. He was nicknamed “the little Corporal” not because of his height, but because he never snubbed his soldiers and was generally friendly with them.

Elizabeth I never had a child in secret. Honestly this one is just against common logic since the Queen was constantly surrounded by her courtiers and it was not uncommon for a lady-in-waiting to sleep within her chambers. This means that there is no way that the Queen could ever had had a child without anyone finding out.

Juan Borgia was not murdered by his brother, Cesare Borgia. Though it has long been the told story the myth is today denounced as false - instead it was almost certainly the Orsini family who was responsible for the death of Juan.

Nero did not play the fiddle while watching Rome burn. There is a very simple reason for this: the fiddle was not invented until 1500 years later. Officially he was not even in Rome at the time but with an insane Emperor there is a chance he might have been there.

Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb. The British Sir Humphrey Davy had invented a method to create light using a carbon filament four decades earlier. The only thing the technicians of Thomas Edison did was to figure out a way to make it shine for a longer period of time but they did not invent it - Thomas Edison himself was nowhere near the entire product.

So there you go. For some reason these rumours has survived the edge of time despite their falseness. Perhaps we just want to believe something sensational about people we can never meet?

Reblogging because I’ve never heard the bee vibrator story about Cleopatra before - is this a thing?? (also, why would you need a vibrator powered by trapped bees when you have Mark Antony, I’m sorry. ;D)

Source: golden-cages
acaele:

ecstatic disaster - an atia/antony fanmix (x)
Perjury, perjury, in the high’st degreeMurder, stem murder, in the direst degree;All several sins, all used in each degree,Throng to the bar, crying all, Guilty! guilty!I shall despair. There is no creature loves me;And if I die, no soul shall pity me:Nay, wherefore should they, since that I myselfFind in myself no pity to myself? (Richard III, V.iii)

lover’s day - tv on the radio (sex)

oh but the longing is terrible//a wanton heart under attack//i wanna love you//all the way off//i wanna break your back//colour of all that’s hysterical//travels along your bones//just to be near you sucking your skin//not gonna leave you alone

evil and a heathen - franz ferdinand (they fit like puzzle pieces)

your teeth are black with wine//as you place those lips on mine//and the moon hangs heavy and forbidden high//on the night of our lives//i’m evil and a heathen//i’m evil and a heathen//i’m a heathen and evil like you//there’s not a lot//not a lot we couldn’t do

killer queen - queen (atia)

caviar and cigarettes//well versed in etiquette//extraordinarily nice//she’s a killer queen//gunpowder, gelatine//dynamite with a laser beam//guaranteed to blow your mind//anytime

the rake’s song - the decemberists (antony)

charlotte i buried after feeding her foxglove//dawn was easy, she was drowned in the bath//isaiah fought but was easily bested//burned his body for incurring my wrath//alright, alright, alright//and that’s how i came your humble narrator//to be living so easy and free//expect that you think that I should be haunted//but it never really bothers me//alright, alright, alright

put the law on you - natalie merchant (when they fight, atia)

though you made it clear from the very start//there was no trusting you with my foolish heart//though you maybe made it clear that didn’t make it right//do you really think you’ll get away?//you can’t escape my justice ‘til my dying day

lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off - panic! at the disco (when they fight, antony)

i’ve got more wit, a better kiss, a hotter touch, a better fuck//than any boy you’ll ever meet, sweetie you had me//girl i was it, look past the sweat, a better love deserving of//exchanging body heat in the passenger seat?//no, no, no, you know it will always just be me

i declare a ceasefire - my latest novel (when they make up)

i declare a ceasefire, ‘cause otherwise i’d find it hard//in among the crossfire, where arrows simply pierce my heart//and puncture my desire to put aside the previous part//analyzing dialogue, an arsenal so lightly thrown

his fire - franz ferdinand (rekindling the affair)

eyes, burning a way through me//overwhelm, destroying so sweetly//now, there is a fire within me//a fire that burns//this fire is out of control//i’m going to burn this city

some unholy war - amy winehouse (political task force with feelings)

if my man was fighting//some unholy war//i would be behind him//straight shook up beside him//with strength he didn’t know//it’s you i’m fighting for//he can’t lose with me in tow//i refuse to let him go//at his side and drunk on pride//we wait for the blow

the howling - within temptation (death and destruction)

we’ve been seeing what you wanted, got us cornered right now//fallen asleep from our vanity, might cost us our lives//i hear they’re getting closer//their howls are sending chills down my spine//and time is running out now//they’re coming down the hills from behind//when we start killing//it’s all coming down right now//from the nightmare we’ve created//i want to be awakened somehow

acaele:

ecstatic disaster - an atia/antony fanmix (x)

Perjury, perjury, in the high’st degree
Murder, stem murder, in the direst degree;
All several sins, all used in each degree,
Throng to the bar, crying all, Guilty! guilty!
I shall despair. There is no creature loves me;
And if I die, no soul shall pity me:
Nay, wherefore should they, since that I myself
Find in myself no pity to myself? (Richard III, V.iii)

lover’s day - tv on the radio (sex)

oh but the longing is terrible//a wanton heart under attack//i wanna love you//all the way off//i wanna break your back//colour of all that’s hysterical//travels along your bones//just to be near you sucking your skin//not gonna leave you alone

evil and a heathen - franz ferdinand (they fit like puzzle pieces)

your teeth are black with wine//as you place those lips on mine//and the moon hangs heavy and forbidden high//on the night of our lives//i’m evil and a heathen//i’m evil and a heathen//i’m a heathen and evil like you//there’s not a lot//not a lot we couldn’t do

killer queen - queen (atia)

caviar and cigarettes//well versed in etiquette//extraordinarily nice//she’s a killer queen//gunpowder, gelatine//dynamite with a laser beam//guaranteed to blow your mind//anytime

the rake’s song - the decemberists (antony)

charlotte i buried after feeding her foxglove//dawn was easy, she was drowned in the bath//isaiah fought but was easily bested//burned his body for incurring my wrath//alright, alright, alright//and that’s how i came your humble narrator//to be living so easy and free//expect that you think that I should be haunted//but it never really bothers me//alright, alright, alright

put the law on you - natalie merchant (when they fight, atia)

though you made it clear from the very start//there was no trusting you with my foolish heart//though you maybe made it clear that didn’t make it right//do you really think you’ll get away?//you can’t escape my justice ‘til my dying day

lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off - panic! at the disco (when they fight, antony)

i’ve got more wit, a better kiss, a hotter touch, a better fuck//than any boy you’ll ever meet, sweetie you had me//girl i was it, look past the sweat, a better love deserving of//exchanging body heat in the passenger seat?//no, no, no, you know it will always just be me

i declare a ceasefire - my latest novel (when they make up)

i declare a ceasefire, ‘cause otherwise i’d find it hard//in among the crossfire, where arrows simply pierce my heart//and puncture my desire to put aside the previous part//analyzing dialogue, an arsenal so lightly thrown

his fire - franz ferdinand (rekindling the affair)

eyes, burning a way through me//overwhelm, destroying so sweetly//now, there is a fire within me//a fire that burns//this fire is out of control//i’m going to burn this city

some unholy war - amy winehouse (political task force with feelings)

if my man was fighting//some unholy war//i would be behind him//straight shook up beside him//with strength he didn’t know//it’s you i’m fighting for//he can’t lose with me in tow//i refuse to let him go//at his side and drunk on pride//we wait for the blow

the howling - within temptation (death and destruction)

we’ve been seeing what you wanted, got us cornered right now//fallen asleep from our vanity, might cost us our lives//i hear they’re getting closer//their howls are sending chills down my spine//and time is running out now//they’re coming down the hills from behind//when we start killing//it’s all coming down right now//from the nightmare we’ve created//i want to be awakened somehow

Source: acaele

so I happened to catch the first 40 minutes or so of The Dreamers a few weeks ago, and oh my goddddd the way Isabelle smiles at Matthew when revealing she’s not really chained to the railings; I can see how he was enchanted by her from that moment.  I don’t know why I actually find Eva Green hotter when she’s playing sweet and girlish than when she’s playing the wicked vamp, but seriously, I can’t.

Sophie Okonedo as Galadriel—the Lady of the Golden Wood, a royal Elf of both the Noldor and the Teleri, one of the leaders in the rebellion of the Noldor and their flight from Valinor during the First Age, and ruler of Lothlórien. Her daughter Celebrían was the wife of Elrond and mother of Arwen, Elladan and Elrohir. A seer and keeper of Nenya, one of the Three Rings, she is considered the mightiest and fairest of all the Elves that remained in Middle-earth.

(part IV in the series YOU LOOK UPON A WOMAN, a project which reimagines Lord of the Rings with a cast of women of color)

Source: notbecauseofvictories

"Book dandies can be distinguished from conventional bibliophiles by their interest in the book as a harmonious aesthetic object. They regarded volumes as delicious symphonies of text, illustration and binding; their Holy Grail was a book in which these elements formed perfect unity. To them, books were beautiful works of art in themselves, rather than mere repositories of the text."

— Thomas Wright, Oscar’s Books - A Journey Around The Library Of Oscar Wilde
Source: inmylittlesecretworld

holy warriors, globe theatre

The other week I went to see Holy Warriors at the Globe, from which we can conclude that Richard the Lionheart is apparently responsible for everything that’s wrong in the Middle East today.  Or something.  But more seriously, I loved John Hopkins’ blunt, energetic Richard, and how little patience he had with Jolyon Coy’s elegant and courtly Philippe (though there was disappointingly little hint of their having been ex-boyfriends! but, oh, the dishonour and bruised pride in Richard’s voice when Philippe presses him to marry his sister the Countess of Vexin, and Richard reminds him that she’s already….familiar with his father).  I was also really taken by the wilfulness of Eleanor of Aquitaine, how much she’s a force answerable only to herself, and the wisdom and grace of Saladin.

But I genuinely wished that it had been a straight-up history play; the section where Richard finds himself in the afterlife and then sees the future of the Middle East presumes a huge amount of knowledge on the part of the audience, in terms of who and what is being referred to, and it doesn’t really come to any conclusions as to how any of this could have been avoided.  It’s all a bit wishy-washy.  Whereas the historical part…..also presumed a lot of knowledge on the audience’s part (I shouldn’t have to go on Wikipedia to figure out that the rulers of Jerusalem are Queen Sibylla and I guess Guy de Lusignan?), but the interplay of all the different factions, and the ties between them, was absolutely fascinating.

I really want a proper TV series about this Crusade now, one which treats everyone involved with respect and understanding, and gives them all depth.  (also one which brings in the Byzantines, because WHERE MY ANGELOI AT.  To be honest I just want a portrayal of the Byzantine Empire on TV full stop; literally any point in their history would do.)

And I keep meaning to read Sharon Penman’s books about Richard, but the thing is, I also want to go through the Angevin pentalogy in order, even if (much as I love Matilda and think she was a total badass) my impatience to get to Richard makes it feel a bit like chomping through your vegetables in order to get to dessert.  Maybe I can skip ahead and then circle back…..