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June 24, 2017

Thread below the Gardening Thread: Roman Drama [KT]

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

256px-Choregos.jpg

All-male theatrical troupe preparing for a masked performance
House of the Tragic Poet, Pompeii

A week ago, before Johnny Depp, um, made the news, Neo-Neocon wrote:

The current New York production of "Julius Caesar" in which Caesar is portrayed as a Trump-like figure is no ordinary propaganda.

Caesar is a particular figure with particular characteristics. Why was he assassinated? Because the assassins thought he had become a tyrant. They met a bad end themselves, as assassins often do, but along the way they felt they were doing Rome a service by ridding it of a dangerous leader. They considered it to be not an assassination, but tyrannicide. . .

She goes on to make some interesting comparisons with the theatrical visions of John Wilkes Booth. But she also includes commentary on a writer at HuffPo calling for Trump's legal execution. The HuffPo writer also called for additional executions. The HuffPo writer's plan for purifying the land is considerably more disturbing to me than Johnny Depp's recent foray into heroic fantasy. Because Johnny Depp is kind of crazy. And because the HuffPo piece actually got published.

And because Julius Caesar was not the only guy assassinated in Rome.


When classical historian Victor Davis Hanson thinks about Trump, similarities to a later Roman emperor seem to become apparent. Is Trump our Claudius? You know, the guy who came between "the charismatic, youthful heartthrob Caligula" and "a young, glib, handsome, intellectual, and artistic Nero".

Claudius's rule of some 13 years as emperor was marked by financial reforms and restoration after the disastrous reign of the spendthrift Caligula. Claudius-haters like Seneca, Suetonius, and Tacitus focused mostly on Claudius as the uncouth outsider--and overlooked what he had done for Rome after the disasters of the Caligula regime.

The empire under Claudius grew and was largely at peace. Rome annexed Britain, and added a variety of border provinces in the east. While court insiders and gossipers ridiculed Claudius's supposed ineptness, he nonetheless assembled one of the most gifted staffs of advisers and operatives--many of them freed slaves--in the history of the Julio-Claudian and Flavian dynasties. . .

If Claudius constantly scribbled down observations on imperial life (unfortunately now mostly lost), Trump is an incessant tweeter, who daily issues forth a litany of impromptu impressions, half-baked thoughts, and assertions--that are likewise the stuff of ridicule by journalists.

What differences and similarities do you see between our day and the days of Claudius? I, for one, do not want to see anything like the installation of a Marxist Nero.

I get the feeling that palace intrigue goes way beyond the palace these days. Anybody else get the sense that way too many people want a part in political drama?

Neo-Neocon again:

People like the author of that HuffPo piece see themselves as heroes on a great stage. Their disagreements with Trump can't be just the usual political dissension, because that would make them petty and ordinary too. No, the scale must be grand, and the remedy equally grand. There are a disturbing number of people around who feel this way, and some of them almost undoubtedly will try to act.

Hope your personal life is not this dramatic. Anything good going on this weekend?

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posted by Open Blogger at 11:13 AM

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