Daniel Torday: A Writer in the Family
Are divisions of history arbitrary? Is it true they never coincide with eras of “artistic achievement”? What gets me on this first page of Glass in Antiquity isn’t so much the single-mindedness of that claim. It’s the one-sentence paragraph that follows: “For this reason it has been impossible not to overstep the bounds suggested by the title of this book.” It is not a question being asked. It’s an answer, and one of intention: There are moments, dear reader, in this book about ancient glass called Glass in Antiquity in which you’ll find … glass that’s not ancient.
"If you were a sexually repressed British butler, then you were well represented in British cinema, but otherwise there was nothing for young people." Grantland invites Paul WS Anderson to reflect on the highlights of a 20-year directing career by picking out his favorite scenes. [more inside]
"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.[more inside]
What were things like in the bars and shops of the ancient Romans?
"Chie, I hope your hemorrhoids rub together so much that they hurt worse than when they ever have before!"
Graffiti from Pompeii is a collection of inscriptions found in Pompeii and published in the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. Much of it is not unlike what you might find scrawled in a toilet stall or on a wall in present day - declarations of love, friendship, and sexual prowess; complaints about careless defecators; philosophical musings about love, life, and death; and meta discussions about the act of graffiti itself.
The Last Days of Pompeii, written by the infamous Edward Bulwer-Lytton, was a Titanic size blockbuster novel back in the 1830s--- but it has not aged well. It is most well known for its many film versions-- there was the silent landmark film from 1913, an adaptation in 1935 and a spaghetti peplum with Steve Reeves from 1959-- but perhaps the most memorable (and exhaustive) version was the colossal star-studded miniseries made in 1984. [more inside]
The Lost City of Pompeii : A snapshot of ancient Roman life via the ruins of Pompeii. Some decor NSFW.
Ancient Pompeii Ruins now on Google Street View Today on Morning Edition I head this story. The Italian government has allowed the ruins of Pompeii to be photographed for Google Street View. It's very cool. (SLGM)
The Works of Giovanni Battista Piranesi: high-resolution scans of all of Piranesi’s etchings. Also, the plates from Les Ruines De Pompei by François Mazois (1812-38), and, the complete 9-volume Le Antichità di Ercolano Esposte (The Antiquities discovered in Herculaneum) published in Naples from 1755-62. Also, at the same site (UT-PICURE: the Center for Research on Pictorial Cultural Resources, at The University of Tokyo), images from the Stibbert Collection of Japanese costume.
Electric Pompeii. A distant church bell tolls, Tumbleweed blows, a lone wolf howls. Snapshots of websites preserved exactly as they were at the moment when the final redundancy notices were handed out...
Ancient Roman erotica to be unveiled, "once thought too scandalous for mere mortals to view."